not sure all you guys commenting read the source material mikeforbes linked to.
i’m pretty sure the story originally broke in the new york times on 6 jan. (there’s a mirror for free, if you’re not a subscriber.)
some key points:
the new issue is based on statistical evidence. yes, a certain amount of armor is too little, and a certain amount is too much, but there’s definitely a range of what’s appropriate, based on mission. from the times article:
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
The ceramic plates in vests currently worn by the majority of military personnel in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines’ shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.
Thirty-one of the deadly wounds struck the chest or back so close to the plates that simply enlarging the existing shields "would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome," according to the study, which was obtained by The New York Times.
what does that mean? it means that even while joe running around on the ground might be overencumbered to a point where extra protection wasn’t worth it, joe sitting in the humvee is probably someone who would benefit greatly from the armor. does armoring trucks make more sense? sure… but it also costs more, and it’s harder to field trucks, even when truck procurement isn’t screwy as all hell. from the same article:
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is still relying on another small factory in Ohio to armor all of the military’s principal transport truck, the Humvee, and it remains backlogged with orders. The facility, owned by Armor Holdings, increased production in December after reports in The Times about delays drew criticism from Congress. But the Marine Corps said it is still waiting for about 2,000 of these vehicles to replace other Humvees in Iraq that are more lightly armored, and does not expect final delivery until June.
in a country with as much money and resources as the US, that’s absurd.
something else: yes, it’s better than nothing, or the old vietnam flak vests, but IBA, like a lot of the other equipment we’ve got recently (the ACH and the ACU spring to mind) have serious flaws. (the ACH, while lighter and more comfortable, is designed for a different kind of fight—with IEDs the primary killer in iraq right now, a helmet which protects less of the head might not be such a good idea. the ACU just keeps falling apart when i wear it.) don’t take my word for it, take Natick’s. from the SFTT article mikeforbes linked to:
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick (SSC-Natick, Massachusetts), has known for at least several years that its in-house designed Interceptor body armor was not nearly as effective as other civilian body armor products already in production…
yes, i understand that army procurement makes it hard to rapidly field equipment, and ever since the first time i got shot at, i’ve loved my IBA dearly. but i also saw a guy die who got shot through a gap in it from the front, the same gap that supposedly iraqi snipers are now exploiting. and now, as it turns out, my vest wasn’t any good anyway. i just had to turn it in for DX. why? because (from the same article),
Since last May the Army and Marine Corps have recalled more than 23,000 body armor vests…
why? well—again in the SFTT article—there’s normal failure, and there’s slow army procurement, and then there’s criminal neglect and a systematic lack of oversight on behalf of the army.
As early as July 19, 2004, according to memos originally obtained by the Army Times newspaper, the Marine Corps found "major quality assurance deficiencies within Point Blank." One month later, on August 24, 2004, the military rejected two orders from Point Blank after tests revealed that the vests did not meet safety requirements…
In January, 2005 Point Blank’s CEO, a Long Island, New York businessman, gained a bit of notoriety for giving his 12-year-old daughter a $10 million party at a swank New York eatery…
Another Interceptor body armor manufacturer, formerly known as Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for fraud for knowingly selling body armor that can’t stop bullets from killing its wearers. …
nothing presented here should be particuarly shocking to anyone reading this who’s worked with army logistics. is it a politically charged issue? yes. does the army logistics system need to change? without a doubt.
anyway. i apologize for this post being so choppy. talk amongst yourselves. n
I did read the article, but I still disagree. Of course the USMC study found more fatal wounds and people who could’ve been saved from lack of side armor. Looking at just fatal wounds and figuring out who would’ve lived, that’s a no brainer. They did not look at all wounds and fatal wounds from what I’ve seen, or even hits from enemy fire, so of course there are going to be more fatal wounds from places that are less armored, but are those areas at all likely to be hit? I also didn’t see any mention of studying the context in which they were wounded. Were they enveloped with people firing from all sides? Were these dismounts? Vehicle riders?
You also say the additional armor would be better for vehicle riders and the problem with weight might be a concern for the dismounts only. I would say the opposite. In some contexts, like Fallujah where you had a lot of urban fighting the extra armor might’ve been a good thing for some of those guys. I think a lot of vehicle riders could face even worse consequenses from more personal gear if they can’t turn to fire, get out of the vehicle in an emergency and so on. More personal body armor ain’t going to do much for an IED hit except maybe give added protection from fragments. That’s why I said add the armor to the vehicle. But as one of the guys here said, in the armor vs. gun fight the gun always comes out on top.
Yup, and I’m sure there are problems with the logisitics system and the manufacturers, the procurement system, etc. No excuse for that stuff and it needs to be fixed. There is also no excuse for politicians on both sides of the aisle flinging this around and pointing fingers. I doubt this surfaced on anyone’s RADAR on this level until now, and they need to fix the problem, not score points here. Like I said before, the POTUS isn’t sitting up at the white house personally designing body armor, and I’m sure most of the congress doesn’t lie awake at night trying to figure out how they can ship shoddy armor to us.
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor …
OK, just stop right there. Does anyone else see the glaring flaws in that statement? The NYT gets its hands on a "secret" (actually "Unclassified/FOUO") study and jumps to all kinds of sensational conclusions without analyzing the data. Don’t let the authorititive-sounding numbers ("80 percent") and theories ("might have survived") fool you. From what I’ve read, this study was seriously deficient, and no decisions should be made without further investigation.
For starters, it appears to examine fatality cases only. Where’s the control group to compare the data to? Did the study collect data on soldiers who were wounded, but survived? Or on soldiers whose vests stopped the bullet/fragment, and prevented a wound, fatal or otherwise? That does not appear to be the case, and the results of this study are useless without that information.
Next, does the study standardize its definition of how much "extra body armor" would have theoretically saved these troops? For example, "x percent of the fatalities may have survived, given an additional 6"x8" side armor plate, or a x% increase in the surface area of the front armor plate." I doubt it, or the percentage (80) that "could have survived" would likely be much smaller. It sounds like the "other" 20% were the ones that sustained such catastrophic wounds (massive blast trauma, for example) that no amount of additional armor would have made a difference, and the "80%" figure just lumps everyone else together. So don’t jump to the seemingly logical (but incorrect) conclusion that these specific armor upgrades that have "been available since 2003" (another bit of data whose validity I seriously doubt) would have saved all of that 80% figure.
Finally, did the study (or the NYT reporter) do any analysis at all about what the potential negative effects of such additional armor might be? I won’t go into detail here, but decreased mobility (both while riding in vehicles and while on foot), increased soldier fatigue/heat injury, and decreased personal weapons accuracy are just a few of the factors that must be considered in this equation … but were not, because they were beyond the scope of the quoted study. On to the next point:
>in a country with as much money and resources as the US, that’s absurd.
Come on, I know you’re not that naive. Yes, the US is rich and powerful. But this isn’t WWII, and there are not dedicated-to-military-equipment factories on every corner. Up-armoring HMMWVs is a pretty specialized process, and not very many places are capable of doing it. It’s physics and economics, not politics. Calm down.
>the ACH, while lighter and more comfortable, is designed for a different kind of fight—with IEDs the primary killer in iraq right now, a helmet which protects less of the head might not be such a good idea.
The actual difference in surface area protected is only 8%, according to the link you provided, and on the sides and back of the head, the rim of the new helmet is maybe an inch higher than the old one. Not a very significant difference, in my estimation. And do you know WHY it’s higher, protecting minimally less of the head? Two reasons:
So disagree with me if you choose, but I don’t think that bigger armor plates, more armor plates, heavier HMMWVs, and bigger helmets will solve any more problems than they create. The difference in philosophy is one of passive vs. active protection measures. I’ll break it down: heavier HMMWVs, bigger helmets, more and heavier plates in body armor vests are all passive measures. The ACH design and accepting lighter body armor for more mobility are active measures (or, more accurately, create the conditions for active measures). I personally prefer the latter. Why? Because in combat, the side that relies on passive measures virtually guarantees their own defeat. They become a crutch, gradually replacing discipline, situational awareness, and superior skill, while transferring the responsibility for personal survival from yourself to someone else far away ("the Pentagon," "evil corporations," etc.).
Now I can appreciate, to a certain extent, the utility of investigative journalism to expose legitimate wrongdoing by corporate and military executives. However, I’d really appreciate it if that vast and vocal group of reporters and "activists" who neither possess the minimally sufficient amount of knowledge of this topic to carry on an intelligent debate, nor the inclination to educate themselves, would kindly refrain from publishing such disinformation, and instead simply STFU.
Just a suggestion, you can use three double quotes in a row at the start of a paragraph to set it apart as a block quote. That and other features that can be used in comments are detailed on the OmniNerd Markup page.
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