The Army’s Body Armor May Be Too Heavy For Soldiers In Combat, Report Finds

Discussion in 'Security & Defenses' started by dave8383, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    It's my understanding that SOF have access to lighter armor. Lets spend the money and make the lighter armor available to the regular combat units also.





    MILITARY TECH


    The Army’s Body Armor May Be Too Heavy For Soldiers In Combat, Report Finds
    By
    MATTHEW COX, MILITARY.COM
    on September 26, 2018
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    Editor’s Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

    The U.S. Army should authorize commanders to allow combat troops to leave the service’s heavy, over-designed body armor behind on certain missions to increase physical performance, according to a new report from the Center for a New American Security.

    “Body armor provides increasingly advanced protection, but at a cost in soldier performance,” according to “The Soldier’s Heavy Load,” part of the “Super Soldiers” series of reports that Army Research Laboratory commissioned CNAS to conduct looking at soldier survivability.

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    “Increased soldier load not only slows movement and increases fatigue, but also has been experimentally demonstrated to decrease situational awareness and shooting response times,” the report added.

    The document draws on past reports that have estimated soldiers routinely carried an average of 119 pounds apiece in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, one-third of medical evacuations from the battlefield between 2004 to 2007 were due to spinal, connective tissue, or musculoskeletal injuries — twice as many injuries as were sustained from combat.

    The authors of the report make several recommendations to the Army, one being that the service should “clearly delegate authority to company-level commanders to modify the level of protection as needed, based on the specific threat and mission.”



    “Wearing heavy body armor may not be operationally practical on a long-range multi-day patrol in mountainous terrain, such as in Afghanistan,” the report states. “In practice, the decision of which protective level to wear is usually restricted to senior leaders.”


    Army researcher James Zheng added in the report that “body armor is essentially parasitic weight; it contributes nothing to the soldier’s operational effectiveness until the moment it is required to resist a potentially lethal threat.”

    Paul Scharre, one of the authors of the report, told Military.com that commanders were concerned “not just that they were going to get heat from higher up, but [that] the Army is going to get dragged before Congress, saying ‘why aren’t our people wearing this body armor.'”

    “We issue protective equipment, and that is great, because body armor is effective and saves lives, but it’s also extremely heavy. It takes up a significant fraction of the weight that soldiers can effectively carry,” Scharre said.

    The report also recommends that the Army conduct an assessment of the feasibility of tailored body armor and potential advantages in reduced weight, increased area coverage, and improved mobility.

    The report, however, only refers to the Army’s Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, a body armor system that was first fielded in 2008. It does not mention more recent efforts by Program Executive Office Soldier to improve body armor.

    PEO Soldier declined to comment on the report because it was produced for Army Research Laboratory, but pointed out that last year it announced last plans to field the Modular Scalable Vest — part of the larger Soldier Protection System, or SPS. That vest at its heaviest weighs approximately 25 pounds, which is five pounds lighter than the IOTV.

    RELATED: HERE’S WHEN THE ARMY PLANS ON FIELDING ITS NEW BODY ARMOR VEST »

    “The SPS system is modular, scalable, and tailorable,” Alton Stewart, a spokesman for PEO Soldier said in a statement. “It defeats current threat levels while also reducing weight.”

    The report also relies on a graphic that provides inaccurate weights of individual soldier equipment, stating, for example, that the “Army Combat Helmet” weighs 6.5 pounds.

    The Army awarded a contract to Revision Military in March 2017 worth up to $98 million to make 293,870 of the Advanced Combat Helmet, Gen II, which is made of high-density polyethylene instead of the current helmet’s Kevlar.

    The ACH Gen II weighs about 2.5 pounds in size large, which is about 24 percent lighter than the current ACH.

    Scharre said an earlier Super Soldiers series report released in April covered these newer body armor efforts, such as how the Army in 2009 “reduced weight with the plate carrier and the Army’s current goal with the Soldier Protection System.”

    The Soldier Plate Carrier System, or SPCS, which was first fielded in 2009, is about nine pounds lighter than the IOTV, which weighs a little over 30 pounds, depending on the size.

    The SPCS was the result of a detailed study, conducted in 2008 by the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group and other Army organizations such as the Rapid Equipping Force. It involved studying how excessive soldier load in impacted dismounted soldier performance.

    The study fielded combat units in Afghanistan with lightweight equipment that ranged from plate carriers to Mk 48 7.62mm machine guns, a special operations weapon that weighs just over 18 pounds, compared to 27 pounds for the Army’s M240 machine gun.

    “No, we don’t talk about that; I am actually not familiar with it. I am familiar with some of those changes that have been made, but I have not seen the report,” Scharre said.

    RELATED: THE ARMY’S NEXT BODY ARMOR MAY GET STRONGER THE HARDER IT’S HIT »

    Another recommendation that Scharre stressed is that the Army should launch an authoritative study to better assess the relationship between load and combat effectiveness.

    The Army didn’t have charts and tables demonstrating the relationship between weight and performance, Scharre said.

    “So if you could have tables that a commander would look at [and say] ‘all right, I am sending my folks out on a foot patrol and I add another 20 pounds of gear; here is how I can see a measurable way, for an average dismounted soldier, that this affects performance,'” he said. “Things like increasing mobility, increasing performance, reducing physical and cognitive fatigue, those things make a difference and those need to be part of the equation … you’ve got to be able to look at both sides of the equation, because right now, you don’t see enough of that.”

    Military.com reached out to Army Research Lab for comment on the report but did not receive a comment by press time.

    Scharre said ARL officials thanked CNAS for the report, but have not provided specific feedback.

    “I would not say they signed off on it [in the sense of] agreeing with the recommendations, that’s certainly not the case,” Scharre said. “In no way is this a representation of the Army’s views on the issues.”

    The report is intended to examine is how much weight can soldiers effectively carry and that how protective equipment eats up “a tremendous fraction” of that fighting load, Scharre said.

    “There is a cultural problem here, which is, every time you take away little bit of weight, people just pile on more stuff,” Scharre said, explaining that the fielding of a plate carrier doesn’t solve the problem.

    “We are dramatically overweight; we are not nine pounds overweight. The Army should set a limit: this is the amount of equipment we should issue people. And if you want to add any new pieces of gear, something’s got to go.”

    more at: https://taskandpurpose.com/armor-heavy-body-armor-combat/

    This article originally appeared on Military.com
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  2. APACHERAT

    APACHERAT Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Since I signed a letter of non-disclosure agreement I can't really say much except all American soldiers and Marines could have been issued these lightweight body armor seven years ago if the Obama administration hadn't cut funding and shelved the R&D of these lightweight armor vest.

    The R&D continued at a slower pace using out of pocket funding by the engineers who were involved in the project and since it was no longer a DARPA project and because of California's nazi gun laws a lot of testing had to be done across the border in states where citizens still have personal freedoms.
     
  3. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    I might believe you if you ever posted anything that wasn't soggy with rightwing propaganda, or if I hadn't worked at Natick Labs.

     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  4. APACHERAT

    APACHERAT Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Even the military was politicized under the Obama administration.
     
  5. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    I like you APACHERAT, but your brain has been invaded. :wink:
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  6. Vegas giants

    Vegas giants Banned

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    You mean the GOP congress
     
  7. APACHERAT

    APACHERAT Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    When I served we didn't have PC political officers. I think they call them today Equal Opportunity Officers.
     
  8. Vegas giants

    Vegas giants Banned

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    Do you blame trump for that? Just curious
     
  9. Questerr

    Questerr Banned

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    The lighter armor is also less protective.
     
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  10. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    This report is exactly why infantrymen can't stand POGs. Infantrymen train from day one with armor, unlike many basic training units that only authorize them on certain exercises or FTX's.
     
  11. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Actually, if you're an 11B in recent years (last 15 I'd guess) we started on Day Negative 3.
     
  12. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    Are servicemembers allowed to provide their own higher quality armor if they so choose?

    Im not trying to make a specific point here (other than: if not, why not?), I just figured some of yall here would know.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  13. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    No.

    There are many reasons. Uniformity is one.

    Another is quality. The military requires a set standard, and all equipment must follow it. With civilian equipment, who knows what the quality ultimately is? Civilian companies generally make equipment in small numbers at high cost, for users like law enforcement. Increase the amount made, and odds are quality will fall. And who is to blame if something fails?

    Not to mention the catch-22, in that in a great many places owning body armor is tricky legally.

    Many states have laws that require face to face sales of body armor. No on-line purchases. That means that people stationed in those states would have to go to a retail store to buy it. I can just imagine "Body Army Stores" opening up next to strip clubs and used car lots outside of bases if this was allowed.

    And items like that can not be sent to deployed individuals through APO or FPO.

    Not to mention the cost. Body armor is used once and thrown away. How many in the military can afford a $1,500+ set of body armor, only to throw it away? If I get hit in my Interceptor armor, when the Doc clears me supply has a new set waiting for me. I do not have to shell out half a month's pay for a new set and wait for it to be delivered.
     
  14. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    All Im saying is: if theres better armor than a soldier is issued, why not let the soldier upgrade using their own resource if they so choose? Including the verbage 'at the discretion of their commanding officer' would alleviate any issues associated with uniformity, and civilian armor has quality/protection ratings that can be used as a qualifier.

    In a perfect world, the military would have the best already. But in a perfect world, we wouldn't need a military at all. It seems a bit overly bureaucratic (and senselessly cruel) to not allow a soldier access to better gear if they can attain it themselves, at least under certain circumstances.
     
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Because it is the military. Not a High School formal.
     
  16. Raffishragabash

    Raffishragabash Banned

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    This is true. For sure.


    But until we can get our army soldiers some better armor... fortunately there's an old, faithful solution for shielding those front line soldiers wearing that lighter armor:


    Brrrrt!!

     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  17. Questerr

    Questerr Banned

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    Except when you are in urban combat with civilians and enemy mixed in and danger close.
     
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  18. APACHERAT

    APACHERAT Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Of all of the close fire support missions to conduct in an urban environment, CAS is the most difficult to pull off.

    -> https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_09_3.pdf

    CAS in Urban Environments. The compressed urban environment creates unique considerations for planning and conducting CAS operations. These include operations in urban canyons, deconfliction in confined airspace, restrictive ROE, difficulty in threat analysis, the presence of noncombatants, the potential for collateral damage, and the increased risk of friendly fire. Urban considerations may include:

    (a) Threats. Urban terrain provides excellent cover and concealment for a variety of weapons systems. The urban environment also affects the employment of antiaircraft weapons, including AAA, man-portable air defense systems (MANPADSs), and SAM systems. Light to medium AAA may be employed from ground sites, from the tops of buildings, or weapons mounted on civilian vehicles. The terrain may limit suppression options. The cluttered environment with lights, fires, and smoke will make threat and target acquisition difficult. Proper placement of holding airspace is made difficult by widespread threats within large urban areas. RW aircraft require a safe sector or area to hold and roam in order to remain less predictable and adjust for attack timing and geometry. FW aircraft should hold in airspace over non-hostile terrain, yet still be positioned closely enough to the fight to allow the aircrew to build SA and deliver timely support.

    (b) Infrared and NVD Use 1. IR signatures are affected by the proximity of other buildings and structures. Urban temperatures are generally higher than rural areas and can be 10 to 20 degrees higher than the surrounding environment. Thermal heating can adversely affect thermal sights and other IR sensors. In many cases unassisted vision is sufficient for some portions of target acquisition and/or engagement. 2. Urban lights may overwhelm aircrew NVDs and render them useless for standard night formation tactics. Plans may have to be adapted to allow for additional deconfliction. (c) C2. Urban

    Keep reading...
     
  19. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    It depends on the length and size of the war. More on the duration. If you're involved in a significant war, over 250,000 troops for example, for an extended period of time, over a year for example, soldiers are going to find their way to non issued equipment and use it in their own way if it becomes known to be effective.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  20. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Sure, you will always have some of that. But there is "non-issued equipment", then there is something totally different.

    Sure, I carried a lot of it around myself. For example, in the field I always bring my own GPS unit. There are nowhere near enough to issue one to every NCO, so I bring my own. But I almost never use it for navigation, I use it for plotting range cards with precise pre-planned firing coordinates and accurately targeting friendly positions.

    I also always bring my own knife. Not the 12" Rambo style that every grunt seemed to have strapped to their H-harness in the 1980's, but a good Leatherman style tool.

    I also never cared much for the 1 quart canteen in the day, I always brought along a 2 quart in addition, in case myself or another needed more water (plus they did not slosh).

    These types of things are common, and expected. And I always check through my squad before leaving the wire on a mission, I have for decades. But replacing their government issued equipment with their own pistol, or body armor or helmet? Nope, was not gonna happen. Because if Private Schmuckatelli gets shot and his civilian helmet fails guess who gets the blame? Yep, me, the guy that did the PCC-PCI before we left on the mission.

    And if Private Schmuckatelli uses a .45 revolver with hollowpoints to blow away some school kid, guess who gets the blame for letting him take along a weapon that is prohibited under the laws of Land Warfare? Yep, me. The guy that thought it looked "bitching", now facing a court martial for allowing a war crime to occur.

    The closest I have ever seen to that kind of thing happening was stateside. We had a guy who left his body armor laying around in a field exercise, and the 1st Sergeant happened to pick it up. It was exceptionally light, because somewhere the joker found a place online that sold hollow plastic body armor inserts. It looked like the real deal, but weighed almost nothing. Another did something similar, obtaining a light plastic helmet that he used in training.

    Yea, we might try things like that stateside, because training in that stuff is a serious PITA. But down-range? Not bloody likely.
     
  21. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    Well, I've seen personal weapons at use in a combat zone by combat troops. Usually backup sidearms. I've heard of certain privately gotten "armor" being used by truck drivers or in armored vehicles, etc., in combat zones. However, apparently, your experience is different.

     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  22. Raffishragabash

    Raffishragabash Banned

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    Thanks, for the remarks and the important ideals you both presented plus I wanted to apologize too.

    Yes for not emphasizing that I referred to the A-10 with respect to the OP here, regarding the premise to "...leave the service’s heavy, over-designed body armor behind on certain missions..." as well as the premise that "Wearing heavy body armor may not be operationally practical on a long-range multi-day patrol in mountainous terrain, such as in Afghanistan,” which is exactly inline with the A-10's unparalleled advantage it gives our soldiers wearing lighter armor.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  23. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Wow, really? Sorry, I am going to call "coprolite" on this. You can not even bring in personal weapons beyond a knife into a combat theater, let along things like firearms and body armor.

    I am curious through, what combat zone did you see this in, and when? I would guess maybe Vietnam era? That was a long time ago, things are much different now.

    As for your reference, that is something completely different they are discussing.

    One of the problems after we entered Iraq in 2003 was the vulnerability of many of our vehicles. Even things like tanks and Bradley's were vulnerable to RPGs. And by the date of your article (2004), this is exactly what they are discussing.

    So one of the fast fixes was actually rather simple. It was the re-introduction of a WWII era technology. Slat Armor.

    [​IMG]

    In it's earliest form, they simply welded some pipes to the outside of the armor, and attached chain link fencing to it. Between that and the body of the vehicle they then typically filled it in with sandbags. This allowed the shaped charge to dissipate before actually striking the hull of the vehicle. And our vehicles still use this system even today, it is simply more refined that the improvised ones they used form 2003-2005.

    Similar things were done to the various iterations of the HMMWV. A vehicle that was designed as a personnel transport, and an expendable vehicle to be used in the woods and mountains of Germany. Not the wide open expanses of the Middle East. Prior to the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, nobody really expected that an "up-armored HMMWV" was even needed.

    There was obvious no real need for such upgrades even after the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
     
  24. dave8383

    dave8383 Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    Yes, Vietnam, and no"coprolite". Look at the picture above my name, that's where that is. I'm the guy on the far right. ( no personal weapons in that picture)

    You know it was pretty hard to tell a guy who might be dead to tomorrow that he can't carry a personal sidearm. That was not the kind of thing we worried about over there. Now, in the infantry not that many did that, but some did, including in my platoon, one guy had a revolver in a shoulder holster, and no one said a word.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Well, Vietnam ended over 45 years ago, that does not apply.

    And that is nowhere near the case today. In the 21st century, we only carry weapons issued because this is a different era.

    And that is not even a recent change. I first put on the uniform in 1983, and those types of rules were in place even then. In 1987 when I was sitting on a runway at Fort Benning with a full combat load waiting to go to Haiti, I had to inspect my squad, and was inspected in kind by the Platoon Sergeant. No personal weapons beyond an 12" knife. Period. Amnesty box nearby for any that had contraband. The only things in the box were a few skin mags, and a few small bottles of alcohol. Even a decade after Vietnam we knew it was a different climate.
     

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