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There’s a dirty side to the military. Literally. Troops are human, they need toilets now and again, or often. Portable toilets are commonly used in the U.S. military in training and overseas. They’re even affectionately known among the armed forces as “porta shitters.” 

Everyone has their own memories of the simple, straightforward, porta shitters. They’re useful, simple and covered in art. 

Porta shitter art!

Posted by U.S Army W.T.F! moments on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

But that’s the thing, they’re toilets. A toilet is not a complicated device. Which makes a recent DVIDS photo surprising and confusing. Meet the “tactical toilet system.”

“Soldiers transport a tactical toilet system during Western Strike 22 at Orchard Combat Training Center June 11, 2022,” the DVIDs caption reads. “Western Strike 22 is an eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise led by the Utah National Guard’s 65th Field Artillery Brigade, that provides National Guard Soldiers immersed training similar to a combat training center and aims to increase participating unit’s readiness and lethality.”

Yes, tactical toilet system. We understand that toilets are serious business, there have almost been wars because of them. But what exactly makes this toilet “tactical?” Is it camouflaged? Can it hold extra magazines or rolls of toilet paper and an endless number of attachments on rails? Is this something only for specialized units? We want to know. There are a lot of questions. Was this something developed by DARPA? The tactical toilet system in the DVIDS photo looks like a simple portable toilet mounted on a tow bed. But there seems to be more here. Presumably, based on the details of that exercise, it can help with unit readiness (surely it cannot increase lethality, it is a toilet). 

Given the obsession these days with anything military-tested or tactical, there has to be a consumer end point for this. Is this something we might see marketed to the civilian world, with special operator veterans hawking the toilet on the merits of its use in the field? Use promo code “portash*tter” for 10 percent off, perhaps. 

Task & Purpose cannot speculate on the effectiveness of this system, nor how it fared in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presumably this tactical toilet system beats having to dispose of waste with jet fuel.

That said, remember, Army regulations stipulate that “ [d]isposal of waste will be performed by the Corps of Engineers.” So the next time a sergeant tries to assign that task as punishment, let them know what the rules say. 

But we want to know more. Have you had to transport a tactical toilet system? Reach out to nicholas@taskandpurpose.com.

Update: After we posted this story, we heard back from someone with the 65th Field Artillery Brigade. It seems that the tactical toilet system isn’t the most enjoyable tool.

“The TTS is more crowded than the average Porta shitter and seems to fill up a hell of a lot quicker and when they don’t get cleaned it’ll make you gag because of how fast it becomes a literal pool of shit,” Sgt. William Trae Smith told Task & Purpose by email.

That said, Smith added there is a benefit to the system.

“The way it’s emptied is actually smart. It’s got a valve similar to a camping trailer and you just hook up a hose and it’s easy to empty,” he said. “And everyone hates when you use the ‘dumpster’ that is attached to the TTS trailer.”

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