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Can someone tell me what color glowsticks/lightsticks the US Military uses and what each color signifies? Was curious.

Thanks.

Greg
 

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Hi Greg;

There isn't a universal SOP for chem light colors ("chem lights" are what I've always heard them called). They typically are defined by unit SOP and more importantly what your supply sgt has available. Some of the colors use is pretty obvious (red = stop/danger, green = go etc.). We typically tried to stay away from red because of the emergency connotations. Leaders would usually get marked with the color we had the least of (less leaders than other things to mark).

Some uses I have seen for chemlights are:

Mark routes, unit/vehicle positions by color (red 1st platoon, green 2nd etc)
Marking stationary positions by color (rally point, cache rucks, casualty evacuation point)
Mark the end of the fast rope at night (real important in case the rope is short and/or to tell how close the ground is)
Mark people/key troops/vehicles by color

Some considerations that folks might not be aware of is that chemlights out of the wrapper are pretty bright at night and the bad guys can see them also. We had a lot of NVGs so a pinprick through the wrapper was sometimes enough for marking purposes. Even a dime sized hole through the wrapper was enough for troops without NVGs. I liked the small two inch versions the best because you could carry plenty and they weren't so bright I couldn't use them. Note - NVGs don't see differences in colors in chemlights (there goes your color plan). Less was always better when putting out chemlights. I've seen some christmas tree type setups that had us rolling (typically around service/support units or a newby). IR chem lights are pretty expensive especially compared to conventional ones. IR chem lights tend to get used with KEY locations and only with units that have NVG capability. You can also use chem lights for signaling (putting an IR chemlight on a rope and swinging it around your head really helped our pilots pick you up on an LZ minimizing loading time). Last note as I'm probably going on way too long I only marked my helmet in training. I NEVER wore a chemlight in combat, just too good a target.

Hope that helps.
 

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great info Major.Rod!! I did have a couple of questions but I think they are OPSEC so I won't ask them openly.
 

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New Clone (OSW Staff)
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That is very useful info Major.rod. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Everyone's welcome. Glad I can help.

Its tough to imagine a question involving chem lights being a violation of OPSEC. Send me a PM. If its something I can share I will.
 

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Devils and Dust
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Ahhhh, the good ol "minis" chem lights. Seemed like every time supply would get them in, they would vanish quicker than you could blink. Oddly enough, you would then find them at someones house during the course of a party. :rolling :rolling
 

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LOL,

That is so true.

I used to carry a lit one in my mouth in the field and use it to do quick map checks on the move.

It would always come in handy when my CO would be looking for me in the dark. All I'd do was smile. Looked like the Cheshire cat.

I'm rolling. You had to be there.
 

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sits in a loose parts box
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Arent Yellow Ones used to mark Rooms that have been cleared during a raid?
 

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Palaboon said:
Arent Yellow Ones used to mark Rooms that have been cleared during a raid?
Like Major Rod mentioned, there isn't any specific color use. It all depends on the unit,its SOP and the availability of the chem lights at the moment. So, yes, they could be used for that purpose. Along with blue, green, IR, etc..
 

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Unabashed 5.11 Junky
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Very cool thread. Thanks to everybody for their input!
 

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Master of the Iron Horse
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I'll tell you what chemlights are for.
Throwing them at Iraqi drivers and at eachother, The roads were littered with those things after we passed through. :D
 

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Average Guy
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Chemlight wars in the barracks is a pretty favored pastime among some people. If I remember correctly they use green and red ones at free fall school for night jumps.
 

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A Stickler for Accuracy
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Chemlight wars in the barracks is a pretty favored pastime among some people. If I remember correctly they use green and red ones at free fall school for night jumps.
I've seen them used as celebratory "fireworks" in an assembly area after an exercise in Germany; a handful of different colored chem lights thrown by several troops in conjunction with each other looks pretty cool at night!

MFF SOP: Red chem light on the front of a jumper = Danger! Turn away! Green chem on the back = Safe, Jumper moving away from you. Simple and effective.
 

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Do chem lights last any shorter (ie. expiry) when they are out of their foil wrapping? I've seen on many photos of operators with chem lights on their gear out of their packaging. On the cyalume packaging it says "IMPORTANT: Keep in original warp until ready to use."
 

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Average Guy
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That is an interesting question. Glow sticks are made up of Cyalume and Hydrogen peroxide though, and Hydrogen peroxide breaks down fairly quickly when in direct sunlight. So I am guessing that would cause a much shorter lifespan for them if they are left out of the package and in sunlight. But it doesn't make sense to me to take them out unless you want to use them anyway. The military apparently goes through about 15 million each year though so there always seems to be lots of them about.

For the lifespan while wrapped and stored properly, it can be pretty good. The use by date is usually a good guess and after that point the reliability of the stick may degrade. I have come across ones that expired a decade ago and some will still work and some won't.
 

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Running from explosions
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For the lifespan while wrapped and stored properly, it can be pretty good. The use by date is usually a good guess and after that point the reliability of the stick may degrade. I have come across ones that expired a decade ago and some will still work and some won't.
We had a bunch expire at my warehouse recently and they handed them out to the employees. I ended up with about 100 of them!:gimme
 

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Several HT figs have their chemlights out and hanging. Doesn't this go against what the instructions say? Also, I see that some of the figs have brown tape wrapped around them. Is this something that is done to minimize the light output?:nerd
 

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Average Guy
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We had a bunch expire at my warehouse recently and they handed them out to the employees. I ended up with about 100 of them!:gimme
Good deal. I seem to acquire quite a few like that too. When they expire and are past due its to the trash with them. But no one likes to just toss something as fun as chemlights so they end up giving them away.

Several HT figs have their chemlights out and hanging. Doesn't this go against what the instructions say? Also, I see that some of the figs have brown tape wrapped around them. Is this something that is done to minimize the light output?:nerd
It is true that just wearing them around unwrapped is against the instructions (that come on the wrapper). But its probably safe to assume the figures wearing them are actually using them not just carrying around unwrapped, but unlit lights. And if for some reason they are carrying the sticks unwrapped and unlit, then they would just toss them when they got back.

The tape could be to cut down on the light, or to make it appear different. For example several tape wraps around the make it look as if there are glowing bars. I haven't seen the example you are talking about though so its just a guess on my part. The lights also come in a good variety of colors to include IR versions.
 

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Yes, they tend to expire quite fast when out of their wrapping. It's not unheard of for snaplights to be DOA even when in their packaging.For emergency pourpouses, never pack just one.

DA-type dudes unwrap and attach them to their gear for MOUT and use them to mark cleared/uncleard rooms or whatever your SOP is that you mark with chemlights. I used to run a lenght of paracord through the hole att he top of the chemlight and then just yank one free when needed. One green bundle and one red bundle.
 
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