More on the body armor

First is an idiotic quote by semi-regular commenter Aaron on my earlier post about media coverage of this issue:

supporting our troops to death again are we?

And then he quotes the “actual article”, which is a different article than the one I was commenting on, then he writes

you guys are covering for george again? your pathetic.

Those of you familiar with Aaron’s comments on MO know that he isn’t terribly likely to respond in a meaningful way to any direct questions or even to stay on topic if he decides to respond at all. I guess I should have read the “actual article” to see where it was that “george” was implicated here.

Next up: USMC: Armor Gaps Prove Fatal on Defense Tech begins by echoing concerns in the “actual article” and then notes a response by Phil Carter (normally of Intel Dump) on the National Security Round table Yahoo Group. Mr. Carter is currently serving in Iraq.

Here is an NYT editorial (that is, an opinion): Marines Without Armor. Although I might quibble with the implication of the deceptive headline, I can appreciate the fact that this is an opinion piece. I’m constantly bombarded by people attacking my suggestions of Liberal bias in Legacy Media by people who don’t seem to understand the difference between reporting and editorializing. So I’m pointing this out as an example of something that I don’t necessarily completely agree with but can still appreciate the opinion offered as an opinion rather than an opinion offered as fact. Plus: I don’t often read NYT editorials (gee, ya think?) but I swear that whenever I do they write about US “marines”. An American marine is a “Marine”. It’s not that difficult.

Here’s the current #1 Google News hit for ‘marine armor’: Mom buys body armor for son for Christmas. Here’s a much more detailed story about it, which notes that it wasn’t a lack of standard armor but a desire for better armor that led to the purchase.

The Monsters and Critics story is from the UPI, which has this latest offering: Outside View: Our troops’ unmet needs. In the lead paragraph is this gem:

Many in Congress and the Pentagon boast American troops have the best equipment in the world. But reports from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan say otherwise. The information about the failures is not new; solutions are long overdue.

The only alternative to the current equipment mentioned is the AK-47. If our armed forces have such a glaring deficiency and do not have the “best equipment in the world”, simply point out the equipment that is so much better. Remember that that the claimed claim is “the best equipment in the world”, not “perfect equipment”.

Then the UPI goes on to enter into the 5.56 debate with this:

The small size of the 5.56 mm bullet for the U.S. M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 machine gun is highly controversial among some troops. One official report said troops “asked for a weapon with a larger round, ‘so it will drop a man with one shot.'”

Even the M9 pistol, which shoots a sizeable 9mm round, impressed few.

Followed shortly by

That the large 9mm caliber M9 pistol is collecting similar complaints brings into question just what it is that troops are complaining about.

If you do not understand why a larger pistol round is not doing better than a smaller assault rifle round, you probably out to stick to something you know.

Finally, I’d like to look at history for just a quick second or two. You may recall the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Okay, maybe you don’t. How about Shakespeare’s King Henry V? Well, the big battle was Agincourt. (Note to MO’s British readers: Please forgive American ignorance of your 15th Century history.) The French had finally cut off the light British invading force and thousands of heavily-armored knights and men-at-arms jockeyed for position. 20,000 to 30,000 Frenchmen on their home field staring at about 6,000 Englishmen, less than 1,000 of them armored knights and men-at-arms. Unfortunately for the French, the rest of the Englishmen were archers. After a few feints and some ineffectual cavalry action by the French, the mass of France charged. And the English began shooting. The exact details of the battle are disputed and lost to time but here’s a description of the charge in Osprey’s “Agincourt 1415”. I’ve done more than a little reading on the subject, and this seems to be a pretty reasonable write-up:

The arrow storm forced every man to keep his head down for fear that a shaft might penetrate the eye slits in his helmet. Furthermore the English stood with the low, winter sun behind them — another unnerving and disorientating factor. As the range shortened, there can be no doubt that English bodkin arrows, designed for the job, began to go through even plate armour protection. When the French arrived at the English line, after three hundred yards of blind, muscle-wrenching foot-slogging, there can have been no impetus left. Perhaps they did push the English back a few yards, represented poetically as a ‘lance’s length’. But many of the French must have been stupefied with exhaustion. And they were so crowded together that even if they had the strength to lift their weapons there was no space in which to aim a blow.

The fighting was nevertheless intense. The English did suffer casualties, the most notable of whom was the Duke of York. He probably was not suffocated under a mound of bodies as is usually claimed, but had his helmet beaten in so that it smashed his skull. The same fate nearly befell the King. All the eighteen squires who had supposedly sworn to fell Henry were killed, but somebody (perhaps one of them or possibly the Duke of Alençon) struck him a blow on the helmet which lopped a fleuret off the gold crown and left it heavily dented. Henry was certainly in the thick of the action. He stood over the badly wounded Earl of Oxford and prevented him from being killed by the French. The battle between the men-at-arms seems to have been very close fought. Surprisingly, perhaps, the most effective intervention in the outcome of the fighting seems to have been provided by the lightly-equipped archers. All accounts describe them as throwing down their bows and engaging in the fray. They were equipped with swords, including the chopping falchion, axes and heavy mallets (used for hammering in the stakes and now for beating down the enemy).

Their nimbleness, being so lightly clad upon the heavy ground, made them more than a match for the exhausted and bemused men-at-arms who opposed them — men, furthermore, who despised the low-born archers but now fell easy prey to them.

Several notes:

  • Note that the French had to keep their heads down to prevent an arrow to the eye slits. Obviously the French lords cared little for their men or they would have purchased additional plates of steel to cover their faces.
  • At some point, even great armor will be pierced. This is an important point to remember, as we won’t always be fighting ragheads with hand-me-down AKs. At some point we will be going against an enemy with weapons designed to defeat our armor. How thick, then, will the ceramic plates have to be?
  • The French slogged their way to the fight, then were too damn tired to fight. Our troops are already heavily-laden. Adding more armor won’t help this situation and must be looked at very carefully.
  • The professional fighting man, a greatly-superior specimen of warrior, was undone by hired bowmen with secondary weapons. If you don’t see the potential for parallels here, you’re blind

Now, all this isn’t to say that more armor is definitely a bad thing. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and the issue isn’t nearly as simple as getting a chart and pointing out that if only more bullets or fragments had been prevented from reaching the bodies of American fighting men, fewer would have died.

The key, of course, isn’t more ceramic plates in today’s armor. The key is better armor that’s lighter, or at least not heavier. Think back, if you will, to the initial days of the body armor shortage in Iraq. Remember all the (true, in most cases) horror stories of Reserve, Guard, and support troops with “Vietnam-era flak jackets”? That gear was considered to be nearly worthless and the Interceptor Body Vest was what every deployed US service member deserved. Now, that isn’t good enough. It’s the extra plates that are needed, we’re told. And in some cases, that’s exactly right. But probably not in all cases, and magically distributing all those plates to everyone would have side effects not foreseen by some.

Recall the rush to up-armor Humvees. Now the problem is that the Humvees are falling apart under the strain of the additional armor. It’s not inconceivable that every life saved by side plates (for instance) could be offset by a loss due to fatigue or the inability to move quickly enough when it counts. Or to get up quickly enough. Or to twist around a corner just right.

Last, and certainly least, while in the process of writing this post Aaron responded. Here it is:

No nicholas, whats pathetic is the bush administration’s repeated failure to get the best equiptment to our troops in the field. body armor. whats so f–king tough about that?

but hey, you go to war with the army you have. not the army you could have had with 2 years lead time. and 2 3/4 years in the field. and an unlimited budget.

go click on my link and read the actual article.
and when are you signing up nicolas?
easy enough to make excuses when your a REMF.

I’m sure that there’s a lot more where that came from. Unfortunately.


  1. Many things in life are irrelevant. If I were to list them alphabetically, the list would start with Aaron.

  2. *sigh* I feel bad about snickering at the clever digs at Aaron, including jim b’s. But there’s something about an incorrigable trouble maker like him that’s particularly annoying. Aaron, if you think distributing the right equipment to the troops is so easy, why don’t you join the Quartermaster’s Office? I’m sure you’d blow them all away with your efficiency in sorting out the contracts, procuring the goods and distributing them to the troops. Do I get to call you a chickenhawk now? According to this info, the Interceptor armour first went into production in 1998, presumably after a lengthy development period. Tell me, which president was in office when this apparantly insufficient armour was purchased? Whose fault is it if it’s not perfect? Sure, you can argue, something better should have been come up with in the last few years. All that armour should have been thrown away, or something. And obviously the money and effort spent recently on replacing the ceramic plates with better versions was not indicative of a competent and caring military. Tell me again, who’s responsible for US Army armour procurement? Is it the president of the USA? I wasn’t aware he had that responsibility. Silly me… I also wasn’t aware the US Army/Marines had an unlimited budget. That’s good to know. Oh well, by this time tomorrow I expect there will be another poorly thought-out flame from Aaron with nothing new to say below this post. What can ya do…

  3. Good analogies MO. Here is a comment from a selection of things from Marine correspondence … letters to back home. it begins: just a Marine with a bird’s eye view’s opinions: 1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it’s lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can’t be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use. 2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of ****. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that’s fun in the middle of a firefight). The article is more extensive you can read it here: I hate the M-16 family of weapons, and yes I have used them. Of course whenever you say that if you have used the M-14, or M-1 people call you a dinosaur and write you off. But the M-16 has two birth defects no matter how you slice it. One is that poodle shooter bullet it uses. The second is the one that causes all the jams in that talc like sand. The double stack magazine. The bullets have to rotate to move up the magazine. That talc sand prevents the rounds from freely rotating and moving up. Yes the M-14 had a double stack mag too, but forever reason it was not as suceptable to this problem. It might be the diameter of the cartridges, size of spring or whatever. The 9 MM pistol is also a double stack. I tend to think this is a factor as the Marine SOCOM types specifically specified not only .45 for their pistol, but a single stack mag. We learned and forgot in the Phillipines that .38 (9mm) just won’t do, specially with ball ammo. About the AK47 family. The AK is a loosey goosey bullet squirter. It was built to be used by peasants, and not stop workin. This inherently makes it inacurrate. It is probably one of the things that has saved a lot of lives in both Afganistan, and Iraq.

  4. Yeah, what IS the military’s obsession with the M-16? I think it’s a catch-22. They don’t want to get rid of the 5.56mm because of all the money they have invested in it. And because they don’t want to get rid of it, they keep investing more and more money into it. Why can’t they switch to 6.5mm or whatever, and just use all the 5.56 guns and ammo for training purposes? It’s cheaper to use the smaller caliber for training, since you don’t care much about killing power when you’re refining your marksmanship. If necessary, make the new guns in two versions, 6.5mm for use in anger and 5.56mm for use in practice. It seems really thick-headed and stubborn to me. They could AT LEAST equip some troops with the 6.5mm with a smallish supply chain and see whether they like it better or not. Luckily armour doesn’t really have these problems. Just the usual military procurement bullshit. Which hopefully they’ll eventually surmount.

  5. There ARE actually variants of the AK that are not ‘loosy goosy’ bullet hoses. Case in point is the Vepr, being distributed in the US by Robinson Armament. Its accurate, its ergonomic, and it comes in 5.56, 5.45, 7.62×39 AND 7.62×51. The secret seems to be using a stiffer reciver (RPK style, thicker steel=more accuracy), and a more secure mount for the barrel. I have one on back order myself. And yes, its better than my Mini-30.

  6. Coolhand77 … question. What do you think of the milled vis stamped AK type receivers? As you can guess I don’t think much of the AK stuff, I would only buy one in the election of a Democratic president. Knowing that they would be banned.

  7. On body armor… I did medival reenactment for a time, and wore a full faced helmet, a coat of plates with spauldrons, articulated arms and legs, as well as steel gauntlets… I was a walking tank, but I know that I could be taken out by a feller wearing nothing but a loincloth who wielded an icepick. The point: More armor isn’t going to solve matters. Any more armor, and our war-fighters aren’t going to be able to move without some sort of hydraulic assist, and these are infantrymen, not battlemechs. The next change needs to be in detection technology, as well as the continual improvement of MOUT tactics, and possibly involvement of more robotic assets. I carried an M16A2, and found it, well, servicable, but I would have sacrificed the lightweight of the M16 for a real shooter that packed a bigger punch, like the M14, or, back further, the M1 Garand… (I pine for a BAR, but we won’t get into that right now…) Pistol? An upgraded 1911A1 Colt .45. Full auto is nice, for a machinegun, but a rifleman should be able to get by with semi-auto ‘double taps’… These are, of course, personal opinions…

  8. Not to pick a nit with jim b, but the issue .45 pistol to a bunch of the spec-ops type is also a double-stack… the HK SOCOM pistol is a semi-auto .45, and holds 12 rounds in a double-stack magazine… and I’ve never heard an operator complain about it. Also, the 5.56 NATO round produces larger wounds than the AK’s 7.62 round (as an ex-military doc, wound ballistics are an academic interest of mine). The 5.56 round will tumble after only about 9cm of tissue penetration, compared the the AK’s 7.62 round, which tumbles after about 25cm. The 5.56 also tends to break apart in the body and produce additional damage from the fragments. The 5.56’s high velocity (nominal muzzle velocity of about 3200+ fps, compared to the AK’s 2500 fps) combined with a short distance to tumbling, combined with a fragmenting bullet… these things produce a nasty wound. Unless it strikes something solid, the 7.62 tends to go through-and-through, leaving a comparatively narrow wound channel, and wasting its Kinetic Energy (KE) on penetration, rather than damaging its target. Soldiers often confront the question ‘how do I drop a man with one shot?’ The only real answer to that is with a CNS hit. Compare that to four or five rounds to the chest. Even if you penetrate a major vessel, that wound may still allow a man 10-12 seconds of action (until his blood pressure drops enough to render him unconscious), and that man can still shoot back.

  9. TheNewGuy – very interesting, thanks for commenting on that. You are right according to this page which has figures derived from bullets fired into ballistic gel. The 5.56mm is indeed better than the 7.62x39mm. But look at the .30-06! Now that’s devastating…

  10. There is much more to projectile lethality than the round itself. The human body is a very heterogeneous structure… and there is no great way to model it. A round through the chest might puncture a lung, but the lung is very flexible, and mostly filled with air. Compared to the solid organs, the lung tolerates the passage of projectiles reasonably well. Hit the sternum or strike a rib, of course, and the dynamics change… the bone can shatter and the bullet often breaks apart, showering the structures behind with secondary fragments. I’ve seen the rib not break at all, and instead deflect the bullet in a totally unexpected direction… imagine my surprise at an entrance wound just to the left of the sternum (BAD place to get shot), expecting a cardiac injury, and finding all the damage done down in the belly. Ballistics is a fascinating field of study, and the bottom line is that there is no ‘magic bullet,’ only varying degrees of ‘good’ shot placement. I’ll leave you with an unfortunate example. About 15 years ago there was a SC State Trooper who was shot and killed by a motorist (LEOs will recognize this as the Mark Coates case). In rough terms, Coates hit his assailant five times with a .357 magnum, while he himself was hit once with a .22LR. The round that struck Trooper Coates lodged in the thoracic aorta (video of the traffic stop and subsequent shooting is here.) Coates died at the scene… his assailant survived. If you can stomach it, watch the video, and note the time interval between Trooper Coates being shot, and when he finally collapses… it’s about 20 seconds or so. The human body is tough (and Coates, as a 6’+ former Marine, was tougher than most). Note how long he is able to stay on his feet walking/talking with a lethal injury. No soldier should expect their bullet, any bullet, to drop an assailant in their tracks every single time… anyone who does think that is in for a surprise.

  11. Outrage Murdoc. Outrage at the needless death of Americans. ‘ Mom’s debit card has ensured he will be clad in the sort of body armor a recent Pentagon report determined could have saved as many as 80% of the 93 Marines who have died in Iraq solely from torso wounds. That translates into 74 undead Marines.’ so apparently Im outraged by the needless deaths of 74 marines. and a comparable ratio of soldiers. Now if you were going to Iraq, what would you rather wear? The daily news story said that mother is spending almost $3000 to equip her son with the best body armor that has to offer. Why isnt the US government spending that on every soldier going into the battlezone? whats the excuse this time? Why arent you guys pissed as hell that W. didnt care, and Americans, a lot of them, got killed as a result? Again?? Why is this an issue? why are you giving us drawn out stories of agancourt in an effort to promote your ‘tradeoffs’ theory (protection v. maneuverability). Yes armor can be a tradoff. But what if the tradoff is between Interceptor at 1500$. and ‘BETTER’ at $3000? What, we can’t afford it? So whats the point of your little excercise here? All I see is you attempting to provide cover and excuses for the incompetants in charge of this little debacle. As for excuses about supply..its just that. excuses. we’re not talking about a problem of production numbers. we’re talking about a failure to order the product. Fortunately, someone cares more about this then you do: ‘The good news is that the startling Pentagon report has prompted the Marines to order improved body armor. The bad news is that the Army is still studying the matter.’ Btway, Agancort: the english had a position on the top of an open field that had a slight slope. the field had steep sides and its width narrowed as it went to the top. the english had set up their archers in a line and had a row of pikes stuck into the dirt in front of them. It had been raining for several days… the english kept making short advances of their position. Finally the French had had enough. They charged with their knights. five or six thousand knights, the finest in all europe. followed by the other troops. over twenty thousand in all… As the Knights went up the battlefield, they were slowed by the mud into a group. the borders of the field also squeezed them together. then the english archers opened up. as the first casualties fell to the ground further reducing mobility, the field became a cauldron of death with the french army marching steadily into it. That army was uterly destroyed. The french had the most powerful army in the world at that point (well, the day before actually). heavily armed and armored and mobile. yet despite their advantages, they were defeated. Maybe its something you should think about.

  12. Murdoc- the newsweek article was based on the soldiers for truth report which in turn is based on the the actual marinecorp report which may not have been released to the public. Maybe you could have bothered to read it so you wouldnt make statements like this: MURDOC ‘I’d be quite curious to know what the body armor issue has to do with the insurgency’s ‘constantly changing’ tactics.’ article: ‘In late October DW began receiving reports for war fighters in Iraq that the American Armed Forces Network (AFN) was warning its radio listeners there that the Coalition had received intelligence about insurgents snipers that were being trained to aim at areas of vulnerability between Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPI plates) – hard composite armor plate – where Coalition war fighters wearing Interceptor armor are particularly vulnerable.’

  13. Nicholas- a chickenhawk is someone who thinks war is a great idea, they are just a little to busy to actually go risk dying in it. People like Dick Cheney. And George Bush. and apparently you. So whats the word nicolas? you gonna stand up or shut up? Oh and resolving issues with military purchasing? thats the job of the political leadership. people like W. and Rumsfeld. But hey, you go to war with the political leaders youve got. not the competant ones you actually need. Oh and FYI- COTS purchasing- commercial of the shelf purchasing- so that purchasing is just a matter of clicking on the website and writing a great big check- yeah they can do that. ‘I also wasn’t aware the US Army/Marines had an unlimited budget. ‘

  14. I’m very unimpressed with the UPI article… their knowledge of weapons and ballistics could probably fill a thimble. Two things to remember: everything is the field is a tradeoff, and the enemy of ‘good’ is not ‘evil’… the enemy of good is ‘perfect.’ When you focus on armor, you sacrifice maneuverability. When you focus on speed, you sacrifice weight… too much focus on any one thing brings unintended consequences. When my unit deployed for the opening phase of the afghanistan conflict, The spin-up was done in an incredible rush; the focus on speed meant that things were sure to be missed… and they were. For example, some of my buddies were sent, in the oncoming winter, with no cold-weather gear (true story)… it had to catch up with them in-theatre. For the uninitiated, it’s always been the case that you could buy ‘better’ stuff than what the military provides… whether it’s boots, optics for your weapons, socks, lights, packs… whatever. The military stuff works, but it may lack some of the niceties of much-higher-priced gear you could purchase elsewhere. For my own part, I bought many items for deployments… medical and martial, that the military didn’t provide. I didn’t resent it, I simply made choices based on my OWN wants and needs. I happen to HATE blisters on my feet, so I bought high-dollar boots, for example. The military makes cost-benefit decisions based on prior experience, and best future projections. The conflict in Iraq is unlike anything we’ve done before, so we’re adapting. We’re doing much more urban warfare and CQB, so different tactics and different equipment are called for. We’re facing different threats (like IEDs), so different vehicles and convoy/patrol strategies are called for. Some of the specifics may be new, but not the process of adaption… it’s happened in every war.

  15. Aaron: Well, I gotta admit that it’s nice to see you actually responding directly to things and staying on topic for a change. RE: Alternative armor. Yep. There is no doubt better armor might be available. Which is what the study is about. Learning lessons and making changes when appropriate. (BTW: Don’t pretend that people who understand a bit about the military procurement process don’t care that US soldiers were killed. I know that would fit in better with your belief system, but it just isn’t true.) RE: W. Well, if you’d look around a bit you’d probably notice that I have been ‘pissed as hell’ at various stages over various things regarding the armor situation. (Again: I know it makes a better story to pretend that supporters of the military campaign in Iraq don’t care, but it just isn’t true.) RE: Agincourt. Thanks for the additional summary. It helps underscore my points. You claim that I should think about it, but if I hadn’t thought about it I probably wouldn’t have posted about it and jotted down a few thoughts, would I? RE: Chickenhawk: The argument for those with little else to back them up. RE: Changing tactics. The big ‘changing tactics’ that our armor is unable to cope with is the idea that insurgents are trying to shoot where the armor is weaker? That’s brilliant. I’ll bet there are tons of military analysts slapping themselves in the forehead going ‘Shoot where the armor is weaker? Why didn’t anyone think of this before?!?’ And how about the IEDs that are responsible for many of those ‘killed by our bad armor’? Have they set the shrapnel to specifically target the underarm area? Claiming that shooting for the weak spots in the armor is a change in tactics that highlights our deficient equipment is, well, stupid. Got any meaningful ‘changes in tactics’? Or is that it? RE: Fixing military procurement. Ah. Blaming Rummy and Cheney. If only it were the good old days (pre-W) when military procurement was on the up-and-up. If you’re going to ignore history and pretend that it’s just suddenly become a problem (and that a reasonable VP and SecDef would ‘just fix it’) at least blame the politicians mostly to blame: Congress. I’m certainly not saying that ‘everything is all right’. What I’m saying is that taking a (secret) military study intended to improve our protection and sensationalizing it with ‘Bad Armor is Killing Americans’ is not only irresponsible, it’s untruthful in fact and intent. Not to mention possibly illegal. And then you’ll get the odd moonbat who tries to turn it into a ‘It’s all Bush’s fault’ game. The exact same thing happened with the CALL report on the Strykers a while back as is happening today with the body armor study. Critics pretend that the report proved that incompetence was killing Americans and that it just proved how dumb the military and the defense suppliers and the administration and the war supporters all were.

  16. Inreference to the question on stamped VS machined. Depends on materials. Machined aluminum vs Stamped steel, give me the steel. Sorry, I just like that additional heft and structural soundness related to good steel vs aluminum. Personal preference. Of course if you want to take it up a notch, why not use stamped steel and polymer? BTW, the G3 and most of the older HK weapons used stamped steel recievers. Yes, machining has its benifits, so does stamping. The RPK was designed with a 1.5mm stamped reciever and an enlarged barrel trunion instead of the 1mm stamped steel on the AK. I admit, the AK was originally designed to be a bullet squirter, but the design has evolved and matured…and I belive it has done so better than the M16/AR15

  17. Murdoc – I think you would find few people more upset at the US military procurement processes than me. (And I’m not even American! I just hate to see incompetence and waste, especially with peoples’ lives on the line). I’ve been wanting to write a post about it on my blog for ages but just haven’t had the time to give it the comprehensive treatment it deserves. But the difference is, I think, that I blame the beauracracy and idiotic administrators for the problems. Yes, Rummy and friends should clean out the procurement rat’s nest. I’m sure they’re trying their hardest, among the other important jobs they do, but I know it takes years to fix up a system so thoroughly sick. In other words, I’m trying to provide constructive criticism. Note how I have previous provided several recommendations I think would improve the procurement process and get better armour, weapons, etc. to the troops? What have the ‘It’s all Bush’s fault!!!’ crowd offered as a constructive suggestion, other than to impeach the President and all his buddies? I’m not convined that will change the armour situation one iota, even if it could be done. It’s just not their fault. Hell, most government departments suffer from this kind of problem. It causes a lot of money and effort and time to be wasted. In fact, often it kills lots of people, but in a much less visible way, so people don’t complain about it. Out of sight, out of mind. I could give examples but I’m drifting off topic. Better end my comment there…

  18. Aaron! Maybe you would like to demostrate how, with a bulletproof vest (I really do not care where from or what type) you can protect yourself from a good sniper. Btw, a sniper finds it much easier to hit you providing you are standing still. The more armour, the harder it is to move. Snipers of the insurgent type will most likely prey on people who are resting… I can tell you that if the soldier has been wearing heavy armour, he will only be thinking about sitting down on a wall. Not fooling about with his friends. If the sniper you talk of is that good, he will kill you with a headshot! If he wants to injure you, which generally is the tactic of a guerilla sniper, as it draws others into the line of fire, then he will be able to hit you in the weak spots. (note your buddies will be likely to be shot if they have heavy armour, as they will take a long time to haul you and your injured body to safety) Oh, maybe you didnt know, but all bulletproof vests have weak spots. Against a sniper, I personally would prefer less body armour, cause I would be running as fast as possible for cover.

  19. Ooh! Ooh! Someone said ‘headshot’! I was hoping someone would. I’ve been waiting for it. Because, you know, when adapting your tactics to take advantage of weaknesses in the enemy’s body armor, it’s easier to shoot for the underarm area than, say, the face. Please! Someone ask ‘what if he’s facing away from you and you can’t see his face but only the back of his helmet?’

  20. Heh, you shoot him in the butt and get him to change his aspect and then shoot him in the side or head with the second shot. Or if you are really good, am for the femoral artery area and ruin his day with one shot.

  21. Y’know I’ve always been impressed by the Isreali philosopy that every soldier is really precious, and the result is that they seem to spend inordinate effort to protect them. tanks converted to apc’s (ex t-55’s) tanks that have the engine in front to protect the crew, and rear and bottom exits… Now I dont expect the us to be quite as obsesive, but considering the fact that there is a war going on and we are actually taking significant casualties, I expect the LEADERSHIP to push and push hard to protect the soldiers doing their dirty work. They are not. This report is from 2003. its 2006. they sat on it and ignored the issue. american lives were needlessly lost as a result. and then 9/11 happened. woops, different issue they are ignoring. same result. As for procurement- again- they had the report, the solution was ‘off the shelf’ and they can do COTS purchasing. problem solved. And if they wanted to reform purchasing- always an issue-well, you know how tough it is to pass meaningfull reform when the republicans control all three branches.