By definition, the term “military equipment” indicates any weapons systems, vehicles, and general accessories or tools that were intended for use by the United States Armed Forces to aid in the execution of battlefield missions. Examples include combat aircraft, command ships, combat vehicles, uniforms, and weaponry. Vehicles and materials that were not intended for the battlefield, such as simulators, training aircraft, and test equipment, are regarded as general property.
There are certain requirements that military equipment must follow. This type of equipment must:
- Be expected to have a useful life of two or more years
- Not be intended for sale in the ordinary conduction of business
- Not lose its identity as supplies intended solely for the Armed Forces
- Be available for the use for its intended purpose
A wide variety of products and services are supplied to the Armed Forces, however all of it must be specifically designed for military purposes and intended for use as war, munitions, or arms material. This equipment not only aids the United States military in executing missions, but also supports their day-to-day operations through the provision of items such as personal protective equipment, commodities, and surveillance.
Types of Military Equipment
The term “military equipment” encompasses many different items. However, there are several main categories of military equipment that are common throughout each of the five military branches:
- Weapons. Arsenals of weaponry are created for the Armed Forces. These arsenals are designed to neutralize occupied vehicles and structures, suppress enemy positions, and assault targets from far away. Weapons include the squad automatic weapon (SAW), grenade launchers, machine guns, rifles, and enhanced sniper rifles. Ammunition falls uder this category as well.
- Aircraft. This category incorporates fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and helicopters. Each of these performs a variety of functions to support those on the ground, including reconnaissance, light transport and supply, search and destroy, and assault. This aircraft is often equipped with its own weaponry. Well-known military helicopters include the Black Hawk and the AH-64 Apache.
- Ships and submarines. From the SEAL Delivery Vehicle, which carries small combat swimmer teams and equipment both on land and at sea, to the amphibious command ships that command U.S. Navy fleets, ships that were created for the Armed Forces serve as floating headquarters and support undersea operations.
- Tanks and fighting vehicles, such as the Ground Mobility Vehicle used by Special Forces, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV), and the Army’s main combat tank, the M1 Abrams. These were designed to transport infantry and provide firepower. They’re heavily armored, can withstand explosions, and quickly deploy soldiers.
- Support vehicles. These non-combat vehicles, like the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), move supplies and soldiers from different locations. Support vehicles are intensely strong, maneuverable, and can haul everything from M1 Abrams tanks to payload trailers.
- Gear/personal equipment. Some of the gear that service members use include uniforms, GPS locators, laser target finders, night vision goggles, parachutes, tactical vests, extended climate clothing, combat tents, general purpose masks, chemical agent detectors, spotting scopes, individual first aid kits, and mine detectors. All of these aid in an individual’s ability to perform their required tasks during day-to-day operations as well as to survive life-threatening situations.
- Specific electronics and software programs, such as Nett Warrior, a dismounted situational awareness system for leaders and intended for use during combat. Some software is designed to aid service members with surveillance and operations while they are in the field.
How to Label Military Equipment
Facilities that supply to the Department of Defense (which incorporates the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy) must comply with established standards that have been developed to track items through the supply chain of defense contractors. Any military equipment needs to be labeled with military condition tags. These condition tags come in five separate colors, which correspond with the current condition the equipment is in as well as specific DOD forms:
- Yellow tags: Indicate that the equipment is serviceable and corresponds with DD Form 1574
- Brown tags: Equipment has been suspended and goes with DD Form 1575
- Blue tags: Equipment is under testing/modification; DD Form 1576
- Red tags: Equipment is unserviceable to the point where it has been condemned; DD Form 1577-1
- Green tags: Equipment is unserviceable but reparable; DD Form 1577-2
If the item is meant for the Armed Forces and not intended for ordinary sale, it must have a condition tag. This applies to everything from large combat aircraft down to night vision goggles that are designed for special operations. The tags help maintain clear communication between branches and divisions, and keep everyone on the same page. They’re made of durable material that withstands tough conditions, and use bright colors to be easily seen. Not only do tags relay the condition of equipment, they also enable the Department of Defense to keep track of tools and inspections. Supplies that are correctly labeled aid the DOD in recording their assets.
The Importance of Military Equipment and Proper Labeling
While the maintenance and functionality of equipment is essential in any industry, tracking and communicating the condition of military equipment is especially important. Many military operations rely on minute details to fall into place. If a weapon is not operational or a service member is using a piece of equipment that actually has been suspended, this can lead to injuries, unsuccessful missions, and lives being put at risk.
If supplies have become unserviceable or suspended, it is imperative to label and communicate this. Inspections and equipment that has been determined to be reparable are also important to keep track of in order to save resources and lower costs. The Department of Defense has standardized the labeling system and corresponding forms, so whether a soldier or a sailor are using the equipment, they’ll be able to easily and quickly understand its condition. Correct labeling and a solid understand of exactly what military equipment is helps missions run smoothly and keeps everyone safe.
- MIL-STD-129: Military Marking for Shipment and Storage
- Asset Tags: Tracking Inventory & Equipment
- PPE: Personal Protective Equipment [Safety Standards]
- Calculating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
- OSHA Safety Sign Requirements [1910.145]
- Electrical Wire Colors
- Arc Flash Label Requirements [2018 Updates]
- What is HAZCOM? (Hazard Communication Definition + OSHA Standards)