More or Armor
By streiff Posted in Featured Stories | War — Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
US Special Forces trooper demonstrates the latest in body armor on a combat operation in southern Afghanistan.
Of all the memes that have developed out of the Iraq War the one that is the most annoying is the repeated assertions that the military is unconcerned about providing body armor (the troops have to buy it, you know) and armored vehicles to troops in theater.
After a inexplicably supine reaction to this damaging myth the Army has actually taken the time to answer a recent story by the Washington Post on the armor available to HMMWVs. (lots more on this, including messages from troops in Iraq by way of Michelle Malkin).
I don’t think for a moment that the leadership of the Army or Marine Corps has been cavalier with the lives of young soldiers and marines in combat theaters. The fact is that Iraq is a type of war that all services had studiously avoided planning for and one for which resources were not available. As the Army says in its statement, it entered the War in Iraq with $56 billion of shortages in equipment. It has labored hard and long to make up those shortages but everything takes time and the war had to be fought in the meantime.
Even the newest armor is no panacea and is really a double edged sword.
Nothing comes without tradeoffs. Forty-five pounds of body armor does provide a certain degree of protection from some dangers. The weight, though, does extract a heavy price in endurance, mobility, and alertness. When worn in temperatures above ninety or so degrees the cure might be a lot worse than the disease. The weight of armor on vehicles extracts a price in speed and mobility and imposes a heavy strain on engines and drive trains and severely limits crew visibility and their ability to respond to threats. At best it provides protection against weapons not designed to pierce it. Against an armor piercing projectile, nothing you are going to strap on a light wheeled vehicle is going to amount to much more than a moral victory.
Warfare has been on a spiraling cycle of weapons versus armor since Joe Neanderthal heaved the first rock. We are entering a phase where personal armor makes sense for the first time in three hundred years. I am willing to go out on a limb and make a bet that within 5 to 7 years we are back to where we were twenty years ago in terms of body armor.