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
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