2008: The U.S. Army is testing new body
armor that will offer protection against armor piercing rifle ammunition. In
addition to testing the protective vest against actual rifle fire, the army is
also trying to determine how much the additional few pounds of weight would
impact troop performance. For several years now, soldiers and marines have been
complaining that new armor was often counter-productive. Although the new armor
offered better protection, it also was heavier and bulkier, thus inducing
fatigue and hindering mobility. This often led to battlefield situations where
a less tired, and more agile, infantryman could have avoided injury. Military
and political leaders usually do not appreciate this angle. But the troops do,
as it is a matter of life and death for them.
commanders are under a lot of pressure to keep friendly casualties down, so
they tend to insist that the troops wear all their armor all the time. Despite this, some subordinate commanders
look the other way when troops shed their armor temporarily to get some needed
speed. The new protective vests have a quick release feature, that makes it
easier to get the vest off, and back on again.
soldiers and marines point out that the SOCOM operators (Special Forces and
SEALs) will sometimes go into action without their protective vests. Again,
that is done because completion of the mission is more important than covering
your ass when a reporter goes after you for "unnecessary casualties."
the troops are willing to take the risk, because they believe, for
example, that taking down a sniper when
you have the chance, is worth it. If you don't catch the guy, he will be back
in action the next day, killing Americans.