Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Body armor Redux

This headline in the NYTimes caught my eye : U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor. This is the opening sentence:
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

Now I would hate to accuse the “newspaper of record” of displaying bias in it’s reporting, but it would have been equally as accurate to say this: U.S. upgrading Body Armor to protect servicemembers.
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is upgrading what is already the best body armor in the world to further protect American troops. The current armor, which has saved countless soldiers lives, is being upgraded with better protective inserts, in response to the increased lethality of insurgent attacks, primarily from weapons being provided to the insurgents by Iran.

Both stories would have been equally accurate. Both are biased in a particular direction. At least I admit it.

I have worn a lot of body armor over the years, and I can state as an expert that the Interceptor body armor (IBA) I wear for 10 hours a day, every day, is the best I have ever used. In the Marine Corps, and in Bosnia, I wore the standard PASGT “flak vest” which provided good protection from fragmentation and shrapnel but was worthless against rifle fire. In Kosovo, I wore “ranger body armor” (RBA), which was considerably heavier and more difficult to move in, but provided protection from rifle fire, through HEAVY front and back plates inserted into the vest. Unfortunately, this armor was not effective against shrapnel, as it lacked adequate side and neck protection.

Now I wear IBA, and it provides better protection from both rifles and shrapnel than either of the types of armor I have worn before, and it weighs less than RBA. It is modular, meaning that I can add or subtract the components I need for a particular mission. It includes a modular neck collar, pelvic protector, shoulder armor, and side armor. It also integrates my rifle and pistol ammunition load, first aid equipment (I carry 4 field dressings, a tourniquet, a chest seal, and a chest tube), 1.5 liter Camelback, and any other equipment I need to carry without having to strap on any more harnesses or suspenders. When I walk out the door in the morning, I am carrying close to 50 pounds of armor and gear. I for one appreciate the Pentagon taking its time analyzing the payoff of adding any more weight to my load! I’d hate to end up like the knights of old, having to be hoisted into my Humvee because my armor weighs so much I can’t walk.

So, I will say it again. We have the best body armor on the face of the earth. I am grateful for whatever improvements we can get, but I don’t feel woefully underprotected if it takes until December.


armynurseboy said...

This article is pretty much crap. The problem is, Joe American off the street isn't going to know any better. The IBV already stops 7.62x39mm (AK rounds) and 7.62x54mm (Druganov rounds) that the bad guys use in their small arms. We have proof of that. Granted they have to strike the plate, and any side shots will still penetrate, but that is still better than before. Improved SAPI plates are not going to prevent IED or VBIED blast injuries because those are typically extremity wounds (which the vest doesn't cover). What people don't realize is that you can't encase someone in head to toe armor and expect that soldier to be effective. There is some give and take and common sense applied. But I guess common sense doesn't apply to journalists...

artbyruth said...

Visiting via Mudville Gazette...

Thanks for all you are doing over in Iraq. You and your family are in our prayers.

And thanks for the info. on the body armor. I, too, am sick of the NYT twisting things around to misinform the public.

Milblogs will help put an end to that!

God bless and stay safe!


Ernie said...

We (Seabees)deployed in Feb 04 with the old flak vest, the same type I wore as a Marine in the early 80's. It was a pleasure to trade that in for an Interceptor w/plates while still in Kuwait. We didn't have the shoulder/side attachments, but we had (and wore) the neck and pelvis protectors. I don't think I took that thing off for the whole five days on the road from Kuwait to Anbar.

I still don't get why these idiots have to twist a positive development into a negative attack on our leadership, so I rarely bother reading their crap. All the news I need from or about Iraq and our troops, I get from folks like you. Thinking about starting my own MilBlog if I can find the time.

Semper Fi, and stay safe, brother.

Anonymous said...

This is great! Thanks so much! I wish I could check every bit of fluff I read/hear with guys/gals with boots on the ground over there... As if you don't have enough to do, I know. Can't tell you how grateful I am to you and everyone over there. And hats off to your family... it's tough on everyone. But very little worth doing is easy, I suppose. You're bookmarked. Take great care...

a mil wife

R Ryan said...

Got the link to your blog via the Mudville Gazette.

Great take on the NYTimes spin. I always say that if Pres. Bush jumped into a raging river to save two drowning men, but was only able to rescue one, the NYTimes would report "Bush Stands By As Man Drowns".

Anyway, I've bookmarked your blog and will visit again.

Until then, please accept my thoughts and prayers. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service.

Semper Fi!

Anonymous said...


I read this recently-

If Bush walked on water the legacy media would headline "Bush cannot swim"

MCPO Airdale said...

The improvements out of Natick, Mass. continue to impress. Thanks for the straight skinny.

Keep your head on a swivel and your butt down!

Anonymous said...

Im glad you are happy with your armor and I hope you never need it :)

Thanks for your service!

Dee said...

Thanks so much for telling us the troop. We're praying for you guys over here.

Anonymous said...

It is a good thing that birds can't read. Otherwise, the NYT would not even be good enough to line the bottoms of bird cages.

The "hoisted into my Humvee" line was-laugh out loud-funny. Thanks for the job you are doing and for your blog.


Ron said...

Hey Mustang09...

Found the link to you on Mudville... wish I had known of your blog prior - you're a fine writer!

Wish too, that I could somehow help your wife and kids with a visit now and then.

I've a nephew over there in the thick of it in Anbar - gunner on one of the Bradleys (numbered, with a 13 - believe it or not..) and from what I hear of his exploits, one of the best they have. I don't get to see his wife and little girl too often - but my brother is keeping them safe and well fed.

Thanks for keeping us informed of what you are doing, and glad to hear that you've only six more months to go. I thank God for you and those with you - and so do, I believe, most Iraqis.

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