AP on MSNBC:
Most torso wounds that killed Marines in Iraq might have been prevented or minimized by improved body armor, a Pentagon study found.
The unreleased study last summer by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner looked at 93 fatal wounds from the start of the war in March 2003 through June 2005. It concluded that 74 were bullet or shrapnel wounds to shoulders or areas of the torso not protected by ceramic armor plating.
The findings underscore the difficulty facing the Army and Marine Corps in providing the optimum level of body armor protection in a war against an insurgency whose tactics are constantly changing.
I’d be quite curious to know what the body armor issue has to do with the insurgency’s “constantly changing” tactics. This is simply another example of the idiotic military reporting that we’re stuck with. Articles like this, which seem to have been written and edited by folks with virtually no understanding whatsoever of the military, are a contributing factor to a lot of negative opinions that people have about the military and what it’s doing.
Critics, I know you’re out there. Please don’t be shy. Use the comments section to explain how the insurgency has altered tactics to take advantage of weaknesses in our body armor. I am challenging you to speak up. If you don’t, I will assume you have nothing useful to say about it. Really.
Here’s some more
Autopsy reports and photographic records were analyzed to help the military determine possible body armor redesign. A military advocacy group, Soldiers for Truth, posted an article about the study on its Web site this week. On Friday evening, The New York Times reported in its online edition that the study for the first time shows the cost in lives lost from inadequate armor.
The study found that of 39 fatal torso wounds in which the bullet or shrapnel entered the Marine’s body outside of the ceramic armor plate that protects the chest and back, 31 were close to the plate’s edge.
“Either a larger plate or superior protection around the plate would have had the potential to alter the final outcome,” the report concluded. [emphasis mine]
The paragraph starts out explaining that the military is doing what it should be doing: investigating real-world results, forming lessons learned, and looking at applying those lessons to the future. But then it degenerates into playing the body count-and-blame game.
Since we don’t have the numbers or distances available, I’m going to have to just make up some numbers. Let’s say that enlarging the ceramic plate by 10% would have covered 21 of those 31 “close” hits. Then you do the study again, and in addition to the 10 “close” hits from the first study, you have six more.
At that point, no doubt, we’d be getting “Sixteen Marines dead due to armor deficiencies”. We could encase the Marines in a suit of solid ceramic armor plating, and we’d get “Eye-holes in Pentagon’s New Armor Vulnerable to Gunfire” headlines. It’s a stupid media game and you know it.
There are limits. You need to be able to put your arms down. Otherwise laying there like a slug might be your only defense.
Long-time readers of MO will know that I’ve been critical of the armor situation in the past. And I’ll continue to be critical in the future until absolute perfection is attained and US troops in combat zones are totally protected from every possible threat. But these stupid headlines and sensationalizing of a military study intended to improve our capability doesn’t help anyone.
Well, let me correct myself right here. Sensationalizing this story, making it sound like negligence or inability to cope with enemy tactics is killing troops does help some. They’re called the “enemies of America”. And not all of them are not American. So many in the media seem so focused on the “good old days” of media glory that they appear unable to report on military matters in a meaningful way.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Legacy Media only seems to know three things about the military: My Lai, the Pentagon Papers, and the words “Tet Offensive”.