2008: For the last two years, the U.S.
Army has been testing t-shirts that will keep troops cool, but will not melt if
exposed to the flash of an explosion. These high-tech T-shirts employ fibers
that wick sweat away from the body, cooling the wearer, or keeping them warmer
in cold weather. Trouble is, the polyester used to do this melts if exposed to
flame, which often happens when a roadside bomb goes off, and you are in the
way. Two years ago, U.S. Marines were
banned from using these polyester undergarments when in combat situations.
While marines understand the physics of it all, they also note that the army
has no such ban.
ban is widely attributed to some craven generals who had been frightened by
some weasel PAO (Public Affairs Officer) who pointed out how harmful it would
be to a commanders career if the media got hold of a story about a marine
getting killed because his polyester T-shirt melted. The reality was that the
marines knew that the t-shirt was protected by the uniform blouse and body
armor. If the flame got through all that, you were probably dead already. It
was also noted that the army could not find any examples of such a melting
incident. Marine officials spoke of "data suggested" and "estimated" incidents
of synthetic t-shirts causing burn injuries.
marines, who have to fight in the cold and heat, wanted the brass to get out of
their underwear. The army was apparently aware of all this, and decided not to
ban polyester. As a result of all this, many marines risk a fine or demotion by
wearing the polyester undergarments anyway.
researchers have made progress in creating a cloth that would wick, but not
melt. The only problem remaining is to reduce the weight and thickness of the
current materials to the point where it would be acceptable to troops. The last
one was too heavy for the troops testing it, but next month a new version, 25
percent lighter than the last one, will be passed out to troops in Iraq.