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12 Strong - Behind the kit - 2nd Line Gear



2001 saw the world change in minutes and with it came a change in tactical and strategic war fighting. No longer were units preparing for conventional warfare against armoured columns and practising for large force engagements, they were having to adapt quickly to; a changing environment, command structure, engagement methods, rules of engagement and a guerilla fighting enemy.


Whilst forces were soon spun up and deployed, the kit and equipment utilised by the forward deployed forces such as the Navy Seals, Delta, SAS etc were dragged onwards from the Gulf wars where a different enemy posed a different problem. The initial equipment deployed with was what the teams could grab quickly from military armouries and stores as well as surplus stores etc to head into the unknown.


This blog covers the 2nd Line Gear of each individual member of ODA 595 who were deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 featured in the movie 12 Strong. 2nd Line Gear is the kit and equipment carried to achieve the mission and it's objectives, predominantly plate carrier, body armour, assault vest etc. The movie 12 Strong provides a fantastic insight into some of the kit and equipment certainly used and some that may have been used. With the dramatization and fictionalisation of some of the encounters from the book 'Horse Soldiers' by Doug Stanton (which the film is based on), the producers did use some artistic licence when dealing with the characters, kit and equipment.


The kit and equipment hails from mainstream manufacturers and from those manufacturers that are either less well known or have ceased trading with kit now being rare and sought after. These events did happen nearly 20 years ago. Whilst there are some standard / uniform comparisons between the team and their plate carriers, 2nd Line gear etc, again; individuality, style, mission requirements and interoperability shine through.


This blog was built up from looking at a vast amount of HD images, trailers and watching then re-watching the movie. The main staple of well know manufacturers and the repeated usage of tried and tested 2nd Line Gear means that if you build a base of any of the below, you'll have a great vantage point from which to expand as and when you discover new kit.


Equipment manufacturers


Those involved in the prop store and armory for 12 Strong managed to capture fairly well, the kit and equipment that was used by forces back in 2001. Generally the surplus kit and equipment now found in militaria warehouses and stores across the States that was picked up was genuine US issued clothing and tactical equipment. Some kit though as expected is nowadays rare, hence why the prop store has used kit and equipment that is either a direct reproduction of actual gear used, or is similar enough to represent genuine equipment.


ODA 595 use some well known real steel manufacturers across all of their kit. In relation to their gear the following are the main manufacturers of note.



Captain Mitch NELSON (ODA - Commanding Officer)


ODA Commanding Officer is a Captain. Primary role is to account for men and equipment under their command, ensuring that all are prepared for the mission ahead. Role requires an understanding of how conventional and unconventional forces work and further understanding of how to merge the two to complete the teams' given objectives.


The below section details the plate carrier, chest harness and ancillaries utilised by Mitch NELSON.



Guarder MOD II Plate Carrier (OD), a replica, is likely worn in lieu of a FSBE AAV QR (Full Spectrum Battle Equipment Amphibious Assault Vest), manufactured by Point Blank Armor.


The Guarder MOD II was identified by;


  • 4 rows of 6x molle loops from neck to chest with 5 further rows of molle loops underneath.

  • Quick release cables evident on left and right shoulders with wires exposed over top of black neoprene / rubber material (second image - highlighted red).

  • Emergency doff loop under carrier at front.

  • Quick release cables on left and right hip area with wires exposed through buckle (third image - highlighted red).

  • Left and right rear where front flap goes over rear flap, there is a noticeable gap between the 3 rows of molle on the front and rear flap (fourth image - highlighted red).

In conjunction with the plate carrier, a chest harness was also worn.



Blackhawk Commando Chest Harness - tan


The Commando chest harness was identified by;

  • Vertical buckles connecting rig to shoulder straps clearly seen to have the name Blackhawk moulded in them (third and fourth images above).

  • Buckles connecting rear of rig to rear of shoulder straps also have Blackhawk moulded in them.

  • Underside of rig, hanging vertical velcro straps for use in conjunction with a belt which would be velcro'd into position.

  • Standard 4x mag pouches with velcro flaps and tabs.

  • Utility pouch on left and right hand sides (1 on right hand side was used as medic pouch).


In addition to the plate carrier and harness, there were a number of ancillaries attached;

Cold Steel SRK - SK-5



SRK was identified by;

  • Cold Steel is the preferred manufacturer of issued knives to the US Military, specifically to Navy Seals who are issued the SRK for BUDS training.

  • Shape and length of sheath, plus lanyard holes and mounting slits on the sheath (third image - highlighted red).

  • Lanyard hole position and colour (third image - highlighted green).

  • Shape of guard / bolster with thumb rest (fourth image - highlighted green). Shape of sheath (fourth image - highlighted red).

In addition to the plate carrier and chest rig, there were a number of ancillaries attached;


  • Thales reproduction MBITR PRC 148.

  • Thales reproduction MBITR PRC 148 PTT Handset.


Chief Warrant Officer Hal SPENCER (ODA - Executive Officer)


ODA Executive Officer is the 2IC (Second in Command). Role is to disseminate orders, ensure logistics are squared away, provides briefs and plans / orders to the men. Requires the ability to command one element if an ODA needs to be split.


The below section details the plate carrier and ancillaries utilised by Hal SPENCER.



Emerson Compact High Speed Vest (OD), a replica, is likely worn in lieu of an Eagle Industries SPC (Scalable Plate Carrier).



The Vest was identified by;

  • 4x rows of molle on upper chest area, where 3rd row of molle sticks out further than the rest (third image - highlighted green).

  • Removable straps (fourth image - highlighted blue) have simple stitching, whereas SPC has stronger more defined stitching.


In addition to the plate carrier, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • LBT Triple Mag Pouch - Stitching on mag pouches shows 2 rectangles side by side vertically. LBT & Eagle Industries have same stitching however vertical line runs from centre of rectangles up and over flap (third image - highlighted red).

  • Blackhawk Hydrastorm Torrent bladder - HYRDASTORM written on cap (fourth image - highlighted red) and label at bottom removed (fourth image - highlighted green).

  • LBT Admin Pouch

  • LBT GP Pouch

  • LBT Single Mag Pouch

  • LBT Radio Pouch

  • Glock Field Knife (either 78 or 81)

  • Petzl carabiner

  • MS2000 strobe

  • U94 PTT

Sergeant First Class Sam DILLER (ODA - Operations / Intelligence Sergeant)



The below section details the plate carrier, chest rig and ancillaries utilised by Sam DILLER.



Guarder MOD II Plate Carrier (Desert), a replica, is likely worn in lieu of a FSBE AAV QR (Full Spectrum Battle Equipment Amphibious Assault Vest), manufactured by Point Blank Armor.



The Guarder MOD II was identified by the same elements as Captain NELSONs.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a chest rig was also worn.



FLYYE High Speed Recon Chest Rig - OD, is likely worn in lieu of an LBT / Blackhawk chest rig.



The Recon Rig was identified by;

  • Square and cross shaped stitching above front buckles (second image - highlighted red).

  • Distinctive shoulder strap material and stitching (second image - highlighted green).

  • Distinctive panelling used on rig at rear left and right where material forms a rectangular shape (third image - highlighted red).

  • Over the top pouch retaining velcro tab (third image - highlighted green).

  • 4x rear adjustment buckles (2x shoulders, 2x waist) (third image - highlighted blue).

  • 4x fixed double magazine pouches.

  • 2x pistol / GP pouches (third image - highlighted purple).

  • 2x fixed utility / radio pouches (1 used by Diller to hold a pistol).


In addition to the plate carrier and chest rig, there were a number of ancillaries attached;


Sergeant First Class - Sean COFFERS


The below section details the armour, load system and ancillaries utilised by Sean COFFERS.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by;

  • 3x distinct vertical columns of molle in centre of chest (second image - highlighted green).

  • Over shoulder velcro strap with additional pull for grip (second & third images - highlighted red).

  • 4x stitched molle loops at base of BALCS (second and third images - highlighted blue).


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a load system was also worn.



SPEAR ELCS (Equipment Load Carrying Subsystem) - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The ELCS was identified by;

  • Shoulder strap adjustment buckles (second image - highlighted red).

  • Shoulder strap molle that the strap threads through to keep padded strap in place (second image - highlighted green).

  • 45° molle mounting platforms on both left and right hand side (second image - highlighted blue).

  • 2x horizontal small buckles (neck and mid chest).

  • 1x large belt buckle looped through bottom of vest.

  • Rear of vest has 2 shoulder strap buckles at top (third image - highlighted red).

  • Vertical shoulder strap runs down behind horizontal molle (third image - highlighted green).


In addition to the plate carrier and load system, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • Cold Steel SRK - SK-5

  • 4x Double 30rd M4 ammo pouch.

  • First aid / compass pouch.

  • Water canteen pouch - left hand side (empty).

  • Water canteen pouch - right hand side (canteen).

  • Large GP pouch - left hand side.


Staff Sergeant Kevin JACKSON (ODA - Communications Sergeant)


The below section details the plate carrier, chest rig and ancillaries utilised by Kevin JACKSON.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by the same elements as COFFERS.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a tactical vest was also worn.



LBV-88 - TLBV (Tactical Load Bearing Vest) - M81 woodland, appears to be genuine issue.



The LBV-88 was identified by;

  • Shoulder strap adjustment buckles (second image - highlighted red).

  • Antenna straps on both shoulder straps(second image - highlighted green).

  • 2x horizontal buckles (second image - highlighted blue).

  • 4x riveted holes in rear panel of LBV with elasticated cord joining rear and front panels (third image - highlighted red).

  • Material of rear panel is solid and not mesh like reproductions / other variants (third image - highlighted red).

  • Belt loops (third image - highlighted blue).


In addition to the plate carrier and tactical vest, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;


Sergeant First Class Ben MILO


The below section details the armour, tactical vest and ancillaries utilised by Ben MILO.



Ranger Body Armor (RBA) - Desert Tri-color - Gen 1, appears to be genuine issue.



The RBA was identified by;

  • Exterior ballistic plate pocket on front of vest has a distinctive rectangular shape with top left (when viewing from the front) corner cut to allow easy shouldering of the rifle (second and third image - highlighted red).

  • Velcro fold over shoulders.

  • Gen 1 as rear of vest does not have external pocket for plate. Gen 2+ had pockets front and rear.

  • Stitching at rear of Gen 1 appears vertical and double stitched (fourth image - highlighted red).


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a tactical vest was also worn.



Guarder MOD (Modular Operation / Duty) Tactical Vest - Black, a replica, is likely worn in lieu of the SDS RACK (Ranger Assault Carry Kit).



The Guarder TV was identified by;

  • Poppers and connecting strap on admin panel above main chest rig connecting panel to front straps (second image - highlighted red).

  • Rear of TV had 3 simple separate / non-joined straps; 2x cross back and 1x waist (third image - highlighted red). SDS RACK had a cross stitched panel on rear joining left and right shoulder straps in centre of back.

  • Cross back straps have 2x elasticated loops to enable loose strap material to be secured (fourth image - highlighted red).


In addition to the plate carrier and tactical vest, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • Petzel carabiner.

  • Pistol mag pouch top left of panel.

  • Triple m4 mag pouches.

  • Water bottle pouch worn left hand side.

  • Large GP pouch worn right hand side.

  • Double pistol mag pouch worn rear right hand side.



Sergeant First Class - Vern MICHAELS (ODA - Communications Sergeant)


The below section details the armour, load system and ancillaries utilised by Vern MICHAELS.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by the same elements as COFFERS.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a load system / vest was also worn.



FLC (Fighting Lead Carrier) 2001 version - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The FLC was identified by;

  • Tan shoulder straps - 'US' marking has been faded out / fabric'd over (second image - highlighted red).

  • 2001 variant had no vertical tabs, 2004 variant did (second image - highlighted green).

  • 8x rows of Molle reaching right up to shoulder straps.

  • 1x exterior chest buckle (second image - highlighted blue).

  • 1x looped belt buckle (second image - highlighted purple).

  • 2x back straps (upside down V shape with buckles at both ends (third image - highlighted red).


In addition to the plate carrier and load system / vest, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • Mixture of Eagle Industries, USGI and LBT pouches.

  • Frag grenade pouch.

  • 4x double magazine pouches.

  • Water canteen pouch - left hand side (empty).

  • Thales reproduction MBITR PRC 148.

  • Thales reproduction MBITR PRC 148 H-250 Handset.


Master Sergeant - Pat ESSEX


The below section details the plate carrier, load system and ancillaries utilised by Pat ESSEX.



Guarder MOD II Plate Carrier (OD), a replica, is likely worn in lieu of a FSBE AAV QR (Full Spectrum Battle Equipment Amphibious Assault Vest), manufactured by Point Blank Armor.


The Guarder MOD II was identified by the same features as mentioned under Captain NELSONs section.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a load system vest was also worn.



ALICE (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) LC-2 + H Suspenders, appears to be genuine issue.



The ALICE LC-2 + H Suspenders was identified by;

  • Horizontal molle loop above shoulder strap buckle on front, LC-1 Suspender variant did not have this (second image - highlighted red).

  • Roll pin style buckle on shoulder strap and black long style clip for belt connection (second image - highlighted green).

  • H style back straps from shoulders to belt at rear (third image - highlighted red).


In addition to the plate carrier and load system, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • 4x elasticated loops for 40mm grenades.

  • 4x ALICE magazine pouches.

  • LBT radio pouch - rear left hand side.

  • ALICE FFD (First Field Dressing) / Compass pouch (mounted left shoulder).

  • ALICE Butt pack.

  • Water canteen pouch - rear right hand side.


Staff Sergeant - Fred FALLS


The below section details the armour, chest rig and ancillaries utilised by Fred FALLS.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - Desert Tri-colour, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by the same elements as COFFERS.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a chest harness was also worn.



Defcon Commando Chest Rig, a replica, is likely worn in lieu of an LBT / Blackhawk chest rig.



The Defcon Chest Rig was identified by;

  • Shoulder strap has 2x elasticated loops on each (second image - highlighted red).

  • 2x D ring loops on each shoulder strap (second image - highlighted green).

  • Rear strap across back has 4x molle loops (third image - highlighted red).

  • Rear strap also connected via 2x buckles (third image - highlighted green).

  • Shoulder strap adjustment enables slack to be looped (third image - highlighted blue).

  • Shoulder strap connect to rear of front panel via buckle (third image - highlighted purple).


In addition to the plate carrier and chest rig, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • KA-BAR knife (believed to be the D2 1292)

  • Torch

  • 3x USGI Double M4 mag pouches

  • Medic Pouch - left hand side

  • Large GP Pouch - right hand side

  • Petzel carabiner


Sergeant First Class - Bill BENNETT


The below section details the armour, load system and ancillaries utilised by Bill BENNETT.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - M81 Woodland, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by the same elements as COFFERS.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a load system was also worn.



SPEAR ELCS (Equipment Load Carrying Subsystem) - M81 Woodland, appears to be genuine issue.



The ELCS was identified by the same features as mentioned under Sergeant First Class Sean COFFERS section.


In addition to the plate carrier and load system, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • FFD (First Field Dressing) taped to left hand shoulder strap.

  • USGI First Aid Kit - belt line left hand side (third image worn on left hip).


Sergeant First Class - Scott BLACK (ODA - Medical Sergeant)


The below section details the armour, load system and ancillaries utilised by Scott BLACK.



SPEAR BALCS (Body Armor / Load Carriage System) - M81 Woodland, appears to be genuine issue.



The BALCS was identified by the same elements as COFFERS.


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a load system was also worn.



SPEAR ELCS (Equipment Load Carrying Subsystem) - M81 Woodland, appears to be genuine issue.



The ELCS was identified by the same features as mentioned under Sergeant First Class Sean COFFERS section.


In addition to the plate carrier and load system, there were a number of pouches / ancillaries attached;

  • BlackHawk Hydrastorm Turbine 100oz 3L hydration pack - M81 Woodland (appears that Blackhawk label at top of pack has been removed as per the Hydrastorm Torrent packs used by others in the team).

  • Water canteen pouch - rear left hand side (later changed for below)

  • Large GP pouch

  • Radio pouch rear of ELCS mounted next to hydration pack


Staff Sergeant - Charles JONES


The below section details the armour, tactical vest and ancillaries utilised by Charles JONES.



Ranger Body Armor (RBA) - Black - potentially Gen 1.



The RBA was identified by;

  • Exterior ballistic plate pocket on front of vest has a distinctive rectangular shape with top left (when viewing from the front) corner cut to allow easy shouldering of the rifle (second and third images - highlighted red).


In conjunction with the plate carrier, a tactical vest was also worn.


Condor Elite Vest, appears to be genuine product.



The Elite Vest was identified by;

  • Plastic D rings situated on left and right hand shoulder straps (second image - highlighted red).

  • Velcro fold over flap on left and right (second image - highlighted green).

  • Mounted FFD / compass pouch left shoulder strap (second image - highlighted purple).

  • 3 vertical stitch lines on right hand should strap (second image - highlighted blue).

  • Admin pouch right hand side with velcro on exterior for mounting shotgun loops or patch (second image - highlighted orange).

  • 2x buckles chest and waist (third image - highlighted red).

  • Zip (third image - highlighted green).


Thoughts and opinion


12 Strong takes us back in time nearly 20 years to the start of what would be a generations defining moment for both the military and civilian world. Taking us back 20 years, takes us back to when some manufacturers that exist today, didn't. When proof of concept equipment and prototypes were deployed into operational theatres for battle stress testing. The marked difference between 2001 and 2021's warfighters is huge. The evolution of weapons platforms, vehicles, armour, load bearing equipment (armour & pouches) progressed rapidly to suit operational requirements, operational theatres (tundra, snow, desert etc) with the intent of being multi purpose, reliable, hard wearing and fit for purpose for those using the equipment.


The variety of kit and equipment utilised by ODA 595 is broad, whilst some follow set armour and load systems, others favour a personal approach and refined gear to suit themselves, it was all about personal choice. This variety gives everyone the ability to recreate a specific members loadout for a screen accurate version or use a mixture of vests, pouches, etc to create a unique loadout that may have been seen on the field back in 2001. Generally the kit and equipment are freely available, likely at surplus stores or from online retailers. Harder to source kit (with it being 20 years ago), is likely to pop up once every so often, but there are a wide number of exact reproductions available or slightly aesthetically different reproductions too if you're happy to stray that way.


If you want to focus on building that ODA 595 impression, you don't need to break the bank to do so, as you can use surplus gear or reproductions. If you want it to be accurate using real steel parts, it'll cost you time (searching for it) and money (rare = expensive). If you choose to go down the replica route, a near enough impression can easily be achieved. As I always say, if buying real steel, be at peace knowing that you will be buying quality long lasting products that won't let you down.



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Final Note


I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.

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