Battle Relic
: Modern US Army Combat Application Tourniquet
Introduction: We have solved another modern day “battlefield myth”.
While poring over images of US troops deployed in Afghanistan the mysterious red tips protruding from soldiers’ right shoulder pockets struck us as odd.
These “tongue-like objects” mostly appear underneath the Infra-Red US flag on GI Multicam uniforms and often show a bit of black fabric as well.
“A hint to the colors of the Afghani national flag?”, we wondered.

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Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during deployment in Afghanistan
wearing Combat Application Tourniquets in their sleeve pockets.

Item Description:
A one-handed tourniquet proven to be 100% effective by the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research. The C-A-T® completely occludes blood flow of an extremity in the event of a traumatic wound with significant hemorrhage.
The C-A-T® utilizes a windlass system with an internal band providing circumferential pressure to the extremity. Once tightened, bleeding will cease and the windlass is locked into place. A hook and loop windlass retention strap is then applied, securing the windlass to maintain pressure during casualty evacuation. The C-A-T®’s dual securing system avoids the use of screws and clips which can become difficult to operate under survival stress or where fine motor skills are compromised.
The Combat Application Tourniquet® featuring the proprietary red tip design and the mechanical advantage of a band within a band has been the Official Tourniquet of the U.S. Army since 2005.

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A soldier of the 1st "Big Red One" Infantry Division applies the C-A-T® during training.
(Injuries to arm are artificial)

The innovations in the C-A-T® are protected by U.S. Patent Nos. 7,842,067 and 7,892,253.
History:   An intensive search of the internet revealed that these are the strap ends of so-called Combat Application Tourniquets, or CAT’s, recently made mandatory for carrying in the right shoulder pockets for US servicemen in Afghanistan. The Taliban use of roadside bombs, or Improvised Explosive Devises, made this rule necessary. “The red elliptical tip features NAR's Red Tip Technology™ to assist users of the CAT in locating and threading during application”, the official description of the manufacturer tells us.
Seeing troopers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) carry the CAT tourniquet either on post, in combat and on patrol, brings back memories to the Screaming Eagles of World War Two. Then, the sky soldiers not only distinguished themselves from “persons other than paratroopers” by wearing jump wings and jump boots. In combat they adorned their web gear or helmets with the special first aid kits for paratroopers containing a morphine syringe, a bandage and…. a tourniquet. The red tip reminds us of the paper sulfa powder bag packed with each bandage in the kit. Thanks to the internet, we now also own one of these tourniquets, “noted as the best pre-hospital tourniquet in […] The Journal of Trauma”.


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Lay-out of a C-A-T® (left) and the contents of a World Ward Two Vintage
"First  Aid Kit, Parachutist's" (right)
Note that a "Red Tip" was called a "Red Flap" in the 1940's.

The proper way of carrying the C-A-T® in the right sleeve pocket
of the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Patten (OCP) Uniform.

Apparently the wear of the C-A-T® is subject to unit prescriptions.
In this image, which this agency took during the September 17th 2014 assault of
"A" Company of the 501st Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division,
on the road bridge across the river Maas at Grave in the Netherlands,
the unit's C.O., CPT Burnette, is seen with a tourniquet strapped to his 
Fighting Load Carrier (FLC) Tactical Vest, typical to his unit.

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