The Corps will give primary control over how much body armor Marines wear to battalion and squadron commanders, an attempt to localize decision-making and cut weight from the combat load when possible.
The move, announced Friday in Marine administrative message 254/09, means that lieutenant colonels will typically make the decision, rather than colonels who command larger regimental combat teams. Higher-ranking commanders still have the authority to make decisions on body armor if they feel it is necessary, said Maj. Tom Wood, infantry advocate for the Plans, Policies and Operations Branch at Marine Corps headquarters.
Wood said the new policy stemmed from the operating forces and the recognition that the CO of a battalion or squadron with closer proximity to Marines could make a better judgment on how much armor was necessary.
As an outsider looking in, Murdoc thinks this only makes sense. With so much controversy over the availability and quanlity of body armor, there has been a lot of hue and cry over lives lost due to not wearing enough armor.
Now, shortages are pretty much unforgivable. If troops need or want armor, they had better be able to get it. But a lot of coverage has focused on how this bigger side plate or that type of armor would have saved lives without taking, well, reality into account. Trying to dictate from half a world away what the appropriate level of protection is would be insane, and even RCT commanders in theater might not be able to make the best calls all of the time.
Everything is a bit of a juggling compromise, and the ones best equipped to do it right are the ones with the most knowledge about the exact circumstances likely to be encountered.