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Posted: 10/15/2003 5:57:54 AM EDT
I imagine this armor will work at a distance but if you are up close (5 to 10 feet) from your target, I don't think this stuff will protect you, but its better than nothing.

Hand-me-down body armor

The safety of U.S. troops should not rest on their parents, their congressman or their military status

10/15/03


The best-equipped military in the world should not depend on worried parents to outfit U.S. soldiers in Iraq with body armor strong enough to stop bullets fired by modern assault rifles.




Yet that's what's happening now.

Members of Congress estimate that at least 44,000 U.S. troops are still wearing Vietnam-era vests that will not stand up to the high-velocity weaponry the soldiers are facing on the mean streets of Iraq. So, anxious parents in this country are frantically shopping for modern body armor to send to their sons and daughters in Iraq.

Most of the thinly protected troops are National Guard units. In replies to e-mails, Oregon guardsmen serving in Iraq reported Monday they were still wearing old-style body armor. They said they hope new vests arrive soon.

They shouldn't hold their breath. The Pentagon admits it will be months before all troops have modern "Interceptor" vests with tough ceramic plates.

Another 700 soldiers from Oregon's 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, left their homes Sunday for training and duty in Iraq. These soldiers have the old-style body armor, but they may get lucky. They are to relieve a Florida unit fully outfitted in modern armor. The arriving Oregon troops hope to swap vests with the departing Floridians.

Why do all of the Florida guardsmen have the modern vests, and the Oregon soldiers do not? The answer is political clout: Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., is the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The safety of U.S. troops should not depend on who represents them in Congress or how quickly their parents can acquire hard-to-find body armor. It also should make no difference whether the soldier is on active duty or a yearlong National Guard commitment.

Only the ceramic body armor can stop bullets such as the 7.62mm rounds fired by Kalashnikov rifles found everywhere in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vests work: Army Sgt. Chris Smith, 24, was shot in the chest during an ambush in Iraq in August. Smith's armor shattered as it was designed to do and he suffered only a bruised chest. He returned fire and killed his attacker.

The Interceptor vests have been in production since 1999, but only now, with Congress and soldiers' parents criticizing the Pentagon, has the pace of manufacturing rapidly increased.

The Pentagon is trying to lay the blame on manufacturers, but that won't wash. A year ago, when the military was preparing for war with Iraq, it was content to hire just three manufacturers producing about 3,000 ceramic plates for Interceptor vests per month. Now that U.S. soldiers are being shot down and the political pressure is on, the Pentagon has scrambled to hire more manufacturers, which are churning out more than 25,000 plates a month.

There should have been a sense of urgency about this long before now. The shortage of body armor among U.S. troops in Iraq is not a matter of money; it is a matter of priorities.

The Bush administration promises that all the U.S. troops in Iraq will have Interceptor vests by December -- a "Merry Christmas" from the Pentagon. We're guessing a National Guard unit will be the last to get the body armor, and with it the measure of safety the Pentagon should have provided long ago.

Link Posted: 10/15/2003 12:41:57 PM EDT
Ok, I call BS on this one. I do not doubt that many of the troops do not have the new body armor, but this is nothing more than an attack on the president and his running of the war.

I have never seen or heard of an army that had all of its troops outfitted with the latsest gear, it will never happen.
Body armor is not supposed to stop bullets. So this stuff can...when the bullet hits the plate....

Body armor is meant to protect, and keep you safer, not make you superman.

The bullets used by the Iraqi army are very little different if any than the troops faced in Vietnam. These are not any modern Uberbullet like the article insinuates.

Also, the vest may have been in production since 1999, but lets look at who was commander of the military until just a few years ago. What did he do to the military? So getting spare parts for heavy weapons and training of troops is taking up the money that would be used to buy these vests. Without these improvments, more soldiers would be dead than already have died

Any soldier who thinks that he is superman because his body armor will stop a bullet under test conditions will end up dead shortly anyway.

Rant off.
Link Posted: 10/15/2003 4:23:42 PM EDT
Most of the primary ground combat troops(infantry, armor, forward observers, MPs) had the new IBAS armor. However, most of what used to be called rear echelon folks (truck drivers, supply troops, clerks) who were not supposed to be engaged in direct combat on a regular basis had older style "flak" vests, good for protection from fragmentation or low velocity rounds. What we have found out in Iraq (like in most unconventional warfare) is that there is no real difference in threat to an infantryman or a truck driver. In fact, the enemy prefers to attack the truck driver and supply convoy because they are normally not as well armed or trained as the combat unit. GEN Schoomaker, the new Army Chief of Staff, has stolen a line from the USMC and paraphrases "EVERY SOLDIER A RIFLEMAN." The Army, as well as the American people, need to re-learn the fact that everyone in the military has the potential to be a combatant and needs the skills to survive. Or did they join the Army of the condos, ski trips, and college courses?
Link Posted: 10/15/2003 5:19:06 PM EDT
Yeah, because you know modern assault rifle ammuntion is so much better at defeating body armor then those old rifle rounds we used to face before like, say, 8x57mm Mauser!

And those old Vietnam era vests were perfectly fine for deflecting VC/NVA AKs and and SKS' in 7.62x39, while the new enemy has modern rifles in... 7.62x39.

Last I checked, military issue body armor was never meant to stop enemy rifle fire. It's supposed to protect against schrapnel and debris, as well as the occasional low-volicity projectile.

Do they also think that military issue helmets are supposed to deflect rifle rounds?


Maybe we should do an investigation to see if the Flak vests issued to our airmen in WW2 were actually capable of stopping an 88mm shell?
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:41:39 PM EDT

Or did they join the Army of the condos, ski trips, and college courses?


No that is not even an army at all, it's the U.S. AIR FORCE! Aw I'm just Kidding! I am just jealous about the whole "Quality of Life" differences between services.

AJ, I am no expert about body-armor, but I would say I am fairly knowledgeable, and I will say that the 'Interceptor' is the best armor to be mass produced ever. There are better armor sets out there, but, not produced as massively as the Interceptor. The SPEAR BALCS (SF) system is REALLY nice, but, doesn't cover as much area, however mobility is Wonderful.

The PASGT was nice as it, and others before it, were only designed to protect from FRAG. Stopping a bullet meant STEEL (or alloy) or ceramic. The "Chicken Plates" made a big debut in Vietnam, going to aviators & crew as their risk was high and their mobility was nil, in relation to the armor weight. "Joe the Grunt" couldn't hump wearing the "Chicken Plate" armor.

Most of the service members being killed in Iraq lately, have been killed by roadside bombs. 'Interceptor' won't protect against that. Even uparmored HMMWV's & Bradleys are getting KO'd by roadside bombs.

I was very suprised when talking with media or the "common-joe" civilian about their knowledge & grasp of bullet stopping capabilities in body armor. I recently retired from the Army, my last stint was EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal). I had all sorts of whizz-bang questions about the 'Bomb Suit' and how many pounds of explosives it will protect a person against. They were shocked to hear that the armor only protects against fragments and not the positive (& negative!) pressure waves that scrambles the soft tissue.

I agree with OBER, I think this is a politically manipulated argument to flank the PRES regarding Iraq. As it's factual basis is without merit. But, then what media frenzied BS has factual merit...
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