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Posted: 3/20/2006 7:27:03 AM EDT
It's been a while since I last posted, but as of the 10th of March, I'm a PFC in the US Army, Infantry.

My Basic Training cycle starts on the 30th of March, and for 13 weeks I will be unable to respond or check up on this or any other posts, but I wanted to start a topic that has been covered before (I'm sure) and check up on it when I get out of OSUT at Ft. Benning.

That topic being "Oh my god, what do I need to spend my Bonus on before I go to Iraq!?", but specifically tailored to the aspect of Body Armor.

I've been in Law Enforcement for 3.5 years (this past weekend was my last) and am 24 years old. I've never had to order or purchase my own armor, as it was provided by my agency.

I just filled out a reply card in the most recent Police Magazine for information from Body Armor companies, as there was an article on Armor selection criteria. I also ordered a new Galls catalog from their website to check out options and pricing.

Basically, I'm wanting learned advice and "tried and true" assistance in selecting best quality body armor to wear while in combat operations in Iraq.

My criteria (thus far) :
-- To be worn over ACU's (BDU's)
-- Carriers for front and rear plates (rated for multiple rifle rounds)
-- Full torso wrap
-- Breathable in high heat environment
-- Comfortable (As much as can be without severely limiting movement while wearing often)


I enlisted with a $30, 000 bonus.... with $10, 000 being paid immediately after OSUT (AIT). Cost is not a factor. I want top-of-the-line.

Any help with this selection process and prior experience with types of vests and plates would be invaluable to my needs.

P.S. I'm a bit leery of Second Chance since their Zylon fiasco...

I look forward to all replies and hope that my decisions based on any information I can glean from the Hive Mind will help me be the best Soldier I can be and fight for my unit and country with pride, honor, and effectiveness. Thank you all.

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 8:02:53 AM EDT
You will be issued the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) with SAPI plates before you deploy. The IBA with plates is rated Level IV. The IBA has straps on the front of the carrier so you don't need to wear a chest or other type of rig on top of the IBA. Just attach your issue Molle pouches directly onto the IBA.

The IBA works. I took a shot from an AK in the back and it put a hole in my Camelback, skipped off my SAPI plate and busted out the headlight of a truck next to me.

The IBA is also most flexible without the neck, groin and shoulder pieces installed but you increase your risk to injury in those areas. Breathable in a high heat environment is subjective. All armor is hot. You just drink plenty of water and learn to deal with it. After awhile you really don't even notice it. Except when the temperature is 138 degrees.

The infantry get all the bells and whistles for deployment ranging from IBA w/SAPI plates, PEQ2 IR lasers, M4s, weapon lights, vertical pistol grips, KAC railed hand guards, 3 point slings, Aimpoints etc.

Don't spend your own money if you don't have to. I did purchase different Molle type pouches as issue Molle are full flap pouches that make getting the rear mag out difficult. I bought pouches that have just a flat flap, making mag pulls easier and faster.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 8:58:03 AM EDT
Like TANGOCHASER said, do not spend your money on body armor, Uncle Sugar will provide you with an IBA and 2 ESAPI plates. Take that 10k and invest it in the Savings Deposit Program once in theater, get 10% interest for the year. Then buy some new guns with it.
Link Posted: 3/21/2006 6:38:59 AM EDT
Thanks for the replies! I had no idea I'd get issued actual body armor. I thought the most I would get is an old "Flak Jacket" from Vietnam or something. Good to know!

Link Posted: 3/21/2006 5:05:34 PM EDT
Please, for your own sanity, and that of your family, stop getting all of your information from the mornic new networks. The last time the green "Vietnam era" flak jacket wa used in combat was Panama. The ones that the news misidentified were the slightly better ones that came out in the 80's. And yes they are only fragment protective. It just pisses me off then the new, those bastions of accuracy, screw up somthing that simple.
Even the National Guard is getting IBA and SAPI plates.. The plates stay in theater and are passed on to incoming units, but most units have their IBA's. Active ones anyway. Vehicles have armor kits for them. The M16 doesn't jam every second shot in the desert. You won't be ordered to torture prisoners.
Basically most of the negative shit you see on CNN is just that.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 4:44:38 AM EDT
As Striker_11A said, take advantage of the Savings Deposit Program! That is a sweet deal. I made about 800 bucks and I didn't even go a whole year with it.

All the advice on the armor is right. Don't spend your money as you'll be issued the best. That is one thing I liked about the Infantry, we got the good stuff before the REMFs did. Once you get to your unit, talk to some of the Rear D. guys. They'll let you know if you need anything. There will probably be one or two that are back for some reason and can fill you in on that stuff.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 5:18:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Current-Resident:

Basically, I'm wanting learned advice and "tried and true" assistance in selecting best quality body armor to wear while in combat operations in Iraq.

My criteria (thus far) :
-- To be worn over ACU's (BDU's)
-- Carriers for front and rear plates (rated for multiple rifle rounds)
-- Full torso wrap
-- Breathable in high heat environment
-- Comfortable (As much as can be without severely limiting movement while wearing often)




Resident,

While I have serious doubts as to whether an infantry unit will allow you to wear privately purchased body armor, the IBA really doesn't meet the last two criteria. Also, it has few points on which to mount MOLLE pouches. I had to run an assault vest when I used IBA, and most of the guys I come across who still use it wear some kind of chest rig or LBV. However, it lacks nothing in terms of coverage and with the ESAPI plates it is level IV armor. FWIW, I run a Pinnacle SOV for mounted ops and CQB while I have a DBT plate carrier with a IIIa rack for dismounted stuff. I have a MAR-CIRAS from Eagle, too, but it is basically the IBA without the front opening, so it has more MOLLE webbing but still has the same issues as the IBA. You'll still be well equipped with the IBA, and a LOT richer for not spending the cash and investing instead.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 8:59:44 AM EDT
some units are even getting the new upper arm armour, and side plates issued to them for top gunners on MGs and such. also the RFI (rapid fielding initiative) gives out lots of new toys in kuwait. and finally, a buddy of mine who just graduated last summer from the infantry basic course at the benning school of lower education told me that they're issuing camelbacks and kneepds and stuff there.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 9:32:39 AM EDT
Camelbacks, knee/elbow pads, molle, another pair of boots, silk cold weather underwear etc. are issued as part of the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI), so don't waste money on that stuff.

Consider getting a Surfire flashlight, extra batteries, 3 point rifle sling and something to occupy your down time.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 2:16:18 PM EDT
A weapon light or just a regular Surefire flashlight?
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 5:20:56 PM EDT
and a good knife, like a Cold Steel SRK. the light you should get a surefire light that you can mount on your weapon, or dismounta nd use in hand too.
Link Posted: 3/23/2006 6:29:16 PM EDT
Get yourself a multi-tool with scissors instead of pliers, you'll find all kind of things you need to cut open.
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 8:12:57 AM EDT
The Pentagon light would be a good choice for a weapon light as it comes with integral mounts which is on less thing to buy.

Link Posted: 3/24/2006 10:28:57 AM EDT
I would wait to purchase anything until after you get to your unit. Surefire lights and optics are standard issue for infantry line units. Now a personal surefire would be of use.
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 10:54:44 AM EDT
Stykers right for the infantry guys. They get all the cool toys. I second the idea of a personal Surefire.
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 2:34:41 PM EDT
Surefires were popular in my lot. A GPS would be top of the shopping list. I also brought my own rifle and pistol cleaning kit w/Breakfree. About the only things I 'bought' which really were whizz-bang luxuries were an Eotech (I'm not an infantry unit) and new ballistic glasses since the issue Wiley-Xs sucked for use with CVC helmets. Even the lasergrips for the 9mms were issued to us.

Thirded of Fourthed the Savings Deposit Programme. 10% isn't bad at all, and it keeps accumulating for up to 90 days after you get into theater.

NTM
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 2:39:37 PM EDT
+1,000 on the Savings Deposit, and also, get Tufcloths, some units have em, some dont, and get a ghraphite powder based lube for your weapon, really helps when you're walking in moondust
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