An Underrated Genre
I often find that people have one very important book genre missing from their personal libraries. Sure, they have some of the classics, a few self-improvement books, and maybe a couple of history books, but U.S. Military field manuals are notably absent.
The U.S. Military is great at a lot of things. They train, equip, transport and support our troops all around the world. One thing that doesn’t always come to our attention, however, is that the U.S. Military is one of the largest educational institutions in existence.
Each soldier, seaman, and airman has an important job to do. The U.S. Military is great at breaking down the technical skills and knowledge that correspond to each branches respective duties. They distill this knowledge into simple and easily comprehensible field manuals.
What struck me when reading these field manuals is that each of them really drills the information into my head. Repetitions, acronyms, and other learning hacks are sprinkled throughout these field manuals. They even have written tests occasionally pop up. Of course, the field manuals can’t replace experience, but they can give you valuable knowledge. If you do want the first-hand experience, you can head over to your local military recruiter. He’ll be more than happy to help you find the military experience you’re looking for.
My Favorite Field Manuals
1. FM 21-76 Survival:
The FM 21-76 survival manual is a classic for good reason. It covers all the basics of surviving in adverse conditions. Fire, water, food, shelter, self-defense, medical and navigation are all addressed. The manual includes a plethora of other information that could come in handy. It explores the correct mentality you need to have in order to survive. This is probably the best survival manual on the market and in true field manual fashion, it is broken down into simple terms and contains no fluff or filler.
2. MCWP 3-15 Sniping:
Sniping manuals are great because they provide insight into what you’ll really encounter as a sniper. Obviously, the fundamentals of good marksmanship are explored, but so are camouflage, tracking, and target prioritization. This is a must-read for anyone interested in sniping.
3. FM 21-20 Physical Fitness Training:
This manual covers every aspect of physical fitness, including diet and physiology. When it comes down to it, getting in shape requires work and dedication. This manual gives you all the background knowledge and techniques you need to understand how to put the work in and how to sustain your dedication.
4. GTA 05-02-013 How to Avoid Getting Lost:
One of the most important skills to have is the ability to find your way back to your home, camp, or base. This manual teaches you exactly how to do this in a simple and easy to understand way.
5. FM 2-22.3 Human Intelligence Collector Operations:
This manual is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It details the role and responsibilities of a human intelligence collector. As you browse through it, you’ll be fascinated. What really surprised me was the insight it provides into the human psyche. The “Approaches” section was my favorite, as it dealt with various questioning techniques. Did you know that honest, sincere, and straightforward questioning is effective on 90% of enemy combatants?
6. Navedtra 14295 Opfor Worldwide Equipment Guide:
This 400+ page document catalogs foreign and domestically manufactured weapons that you’re likely to run into when fighting forces that operate within black markets. What it lacks in practical information, it makes up for in a description of an incredibly cool topic.
Start Educating Yourself
There’s a lot to learn in these field manuals. Most of the manuals are easy to skim. You don’t need to read them cover to cover to appreciate the main takeaways. Field manuals tend to be scattered around the internet. That said, some of these manuals are outdated, poor quality, or watermarked versions. They’re not too hard to weed out. When doing so, make sure any manuals you download are marked “Declassified” or “Approved for Unlimited Distribution.” It’s not hard to run into leaked manuals, that can get you in a lot of trouble for downloading.
An easy alternative is to go to my website, LiveFireManuals.com, that collects and vets the manuals. We usually charge a couple of bucks, but our curated list of manuals can end up saving you a lot of time. We have over 500 field manuals for immediate download for under 7 bucks.
So, if you’ve ever got a minute to kill and are looking for something to read, consider a US Military Field Manual. You’ll be glad you did.