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Soldier's Military Compass
U.S. Military Compass
Compass and map skills are fundamental to warfighter readiness. The compass has been a basic instrument for unit leaders, artillerymen, and scouts since colonial times. A trained soldier with map and compass is never lost and will reach his planned objective. Magnetic compasses are suitable for military units for reconnoitering, determining direction, orienting maps, fire control and other uses. During World War I and through the early days of World War II, U.S. military compasses were in the form of a pocket watch. The modern "lensatic compass" developed from earlier "prismatic compass" designs, a line that ended with the M-1938 model. The most common modern compass for land navigation is the improved lensatic compass, carried by U.S. soldiers and Marines since World War II.
The liquid filled "Silva" or "Suunto" compasses with their clear plastic base are smaller and lighter than the military Lensatic Compass. The military compass design has survived due to its ruggedness and good fit with military training and usage for more than a half century. The commercial style compasses are procured and have NSNs but they are not regular issue for field use.
This section of Olive-Drab has these pages about U.S. military compasses:
There are other compasses in use with the U.S. military, such as mounted compasses in aircraft, ships, and gun platforms or the unusual sun compass. The compasses covered in these pages are the most common, used by large numbers of personnel and available to militaria collectors.
U.S. Military Compass & Direction Finding Terminology
Here are the definitions of some terms used for military land navigation by compass:
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