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  • FTAO: military guys

    For those of you who are in the military and have seen combat, I have a question.. what's the most effective body armor? I assume whatever is standard issue isn't very effective because of all of the complaints about body armor in the media, so what do those who prefer to purchase their own use? And how affective are the combat helmets they issue you? I'd like to know how affective they are at various calibers.

  • #2
    Re: FTAO: military guys

    well i know for sure that british issued kevlar helmets are excellent pieces of kit....or so my brother tells me

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    • #3
      Re: FTAO: military guys

      Most of the media complaints about body armor involve "not buying enough of it", or "not putting enough anti-explosives armor on the vehicles". Standard body army is extremely effective from what I've heard, which is why we have such sky high rates of Injury rather than Deaths--almost nothing actually kills our soldiers except stepping on a landmine.

      Disclaimer: This is from the "informed civilian" point of view, as I don't actually serve. I have family members who have served though, and they never complained about the body armor.

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      • #4
        Re: FTAO: military guys

        or it could be that the jundies cant shoot for S*** anyway!

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        • #5
          Re: FTAO: military guys

          True, you can never discount that as a potential factor. ;)

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          • #6
            Re: FTAO: military guys

            True. Most complaints about body armor are about the quantity, not quality, of the amror available. I don't know that there is wide variance in the quality of personal body armor available to our soldiers, but there is a variance in vehicle armor, i.e. active/explosive armor vs. "up-armored" vehicles with scrap metal usually welded on humvees to slow down the velocity of shrapnel from IEDs.
            Beatnik

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            • #7
              Re: FTAO: military guys

              yep its the same with the british WMIK land rovers which have poor armour fitted and are the reason why they are associated with so many deaths in places like iraq/afghan

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              • #8
                Re: FTAO: military guys

                In my experience, the armor is good within the limits of what it's intended to do. Meaning, the plates in a vest will stop a bullet, but the vast majority of attacks we experienced were relatively large IED's, and the size has increased quite a bit since I was there.

                When we first got there, we considered ourselves lucky when we finally got to weld steel on our trucks. I know one guy that's alive today only because he had a sheet of scrap steel under his seat when he hit a mine, leaving him with just a heavily bruised ass. When we got the real armor kits, we felt like we were invincible. However, bigger IED's and EFP's have shown that's not the case.

                In regards to personally acquired armor, the last I heard was army (and marine) policy was no personal armor allowed. As for the helmets, I'm pretty sure they're only rated up to 9mm, but that doesn't mean they can't stop more powerful rounds under the right conditions.

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                • #9
                  Re: FTAO: military guys

                  The problem was with the fact that new body was being phased in throughout the DoD when the war started. When new gear is issued to the military, it's done on a priority basis: the special forces get the best stuff first, then the units that are first to deploy, then the support units, then reserve units, etc... Well, we had reserve and guard units deploying before they got their new body armor. The old body armor was the kind that was issued in Vietnam and was meant only to stop fragmentation shrapnel, not to stop bullets. You can see why some people would be a bit upset that they don't have the new armor...

                  Anyway, I think everyone has the new body armor and it is quite effective. There is another product on the market that is supposed to be just as, if not more, effective, but is lighter and more flexible, called Dragon Skin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Skin_body_armor There's a lot of controversy surrounding this new style of armor, and the Dragon Skin has certainly not proven itself in battle. Some soldiers were wearing personally purchased Dragon Skin instead of their issued body armor and were ordered not to wear personally purchased body armor. There wasn't much public controversy over this order, but it was NOT popular among the troops.

                  The idea of turning general purpose vehicles into armored vehicles is another issue. HMMWV's just aren't the right tool for the job in a war fought with IEDs. Even the ones with aftermarket armor have problems related to the fact that the vehicles weren't designed to be armored vehicles. On the other hand, using much, much more expensive armored vehicles as general purpose vehicles is simply cost prohibitive. There are new light armored vehicles that have been designed and are in the process of being bid on and issued right now. The one that I saw that won a contract had a V-shaped "hull" like a boat to deflect the energy of any explosives away from the troops inside. I suppose any explosive would destroy the axles/wheels/tires, but who cares if the troops survive? I think this is the vehicle that I was reading about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar_%28vehicle%29
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                  • #10
                    Re: FTAO: military guys

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                    The problem was with the fact that new body was being phased in throughout the DoD when the war started. When new gear is issued to the military, it's done on a priority basis: the special forces get the best stuff first, then the units that are first to deploy, then the support units, then reserve units, etc... Well, we had reserve and guard units deploying before they got their new body armor. The old body armor was the kind that was issued in Vietnam and was meant only to stop fragmentation shrapnel, not to stop bullets. You can see why some people would be a bit upset that they don't have the new armor...

                    Anyway, I think everyone has the new body armor and it is quite effective. There is another product on the market that is supposed to be just as, if not more, effective, but is lighter and more flexible, called Dragon Skin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Skin_body_armor There's a lot of controversy surrounding this new style of armor, and the Dragon Skin has certainly not proven itself in battle. Some soldiers were wearing personally purchased Dragon Skin instead of their issued body armor and were ordered not to wear personally purchased body armor. There wasn't much public controversy over this order, but it was NOT popular among the troops.

                    The idea of turning general purpose vehicles into armored vehicles is another issue. HMMWV's just aren't the right tool for the job in a war fought with IEDs. Even the ones with aftermarket armor have problems related to the fact that the vehicles weren't designed to be armored vehicles. On the other hand, using much, much more expensive armored vehicles as general purpose vehicles is simply cost prohibitive. There are new light armored vehicles that have been designed and are in the process of being bid on and issued right now. The one that I saw that won a contract had a V-shaped "hull" like a boat to deflect the energy of any explosives away from the troops inside. I suppose any explosive would destroy the axles/wheels/tires, but who cares if the troops survive? I think this is the vehicle that I was reading about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar_%28vehicle%29
                    Yeah I've heard about the dragon skin armor, also the MRAP vehicles. I just know the MRAPs are having trouble getting funding from congress for some reason. I think thats really a shame that they order you to wear specific armor even when that might not neccessarily be the best armor available, I was reading an article about how the gear you use is usually selected by high ranking generals who don't really know what is most effective, nor do they use it or have experience with it to the degree that the grunt does. I think that's really backwards, the individual soldier should be allowed to make his own decisions regarding what gear is used to protect his or herself in combat. I do know that part of the reason behind that is ensuring that the gear is effective, but being effective and being MORE effective are two different things.

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                    • #11
                      Re: FTAO: military guys

                      Originally posted by mentholated View Post
                      I was reading an article about how the gear you use is usually selected by high ranking generals who don't really know what is most effective, nor do they use it or have experience with it to the degree that the grunt does.
                      That is not exactly true. All military gear is subjected to rigorous testing and trials before being offered a contract. True, once a piece of gear has proven to have met military standards, the generals and bean counters decide who gets to supply the military with the equipment, but that's only after it meets their specifications. That's why it's highly desired for products to be "mil-spec".

                      I understand the need for uniformity of equipment, but I still can't shake the feeling that it would OK to let troops wear personally purchased armor in addition to their issued armor.
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                      • #12
                        Re: FTAO: military guys

                        Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                        The problem was with the fact that new body was being phased in throughout the DoD when the war started. When new gear is issued to the military, it's done on a priority basis: the special forces get the best stuff first, then the units that are first to deploy, then the support units, then reserve units, etc... Well, we had reserve and guard units deploying before they got their new body armor. The old body armor was the kind that was issued in Vietnam and was meant only to stop fragmentation shrapnel, not to stop bullets. You can see why some people would be a bit upset that they don't have the new armor...

                        Anyway, I think everyone has the new body armor and it is quite effective. There is another product on the market that is supposed to be just as, if not more, effective, but is lighter and more flexible, called Dragon Skin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Skin_body_armor There's a lot of controversy surrounding this new style of armor, and the Dragon Skin has certainly not proven itself in battle. Some soldiers were wearing personally purchased Dragon Skin instead of their issued body armor and were ordered not to wear personally purchased body armor. There wasn't much public controversy over this order, but it was NOT popular among the troops.

                        The idea of turning general purpose vehicles into armored vehicles is another issue. HMMWV's just aren't the right tool for the job in a war fought with IEDs. Even the ones with aftermarket armor have problems related to the fact that the vehicles weren't designed to be armored vehicles. On the other hand, using much, much more expensive armored vehicles as general purpose vehicles is simply cost prohibitive. There are new light armored vehicles that have been designed and are in the process of being bid on and issued right now. The one that I saw that won a contract had a V-shaped "hull" like a boat to deflect the energy of any explosives away from the troops inside. I suppose any explosive would destroy the axles/wheels/tires, but who cares if the troops survive? I think this is the vehicle that I was reading about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar_%28vehicle%29
                        To my knowledge, Dragonskin is actually heavier than the IBA by a not insignificant amount. Also, the issue with troops getting stuck with Vietnam era armor was resolved long ago (well, we still use them in my unit, but only CONUS).

                        There are several different types of MRAP's being used. Several years ago the buffalo (essentially the cougar's big brother) was a somewhat common sight on the MSR's with engineer sweep teams, but it's not very practical as a utility vehicle. (Nerd aside: In the new Transformers movie, Bonecrusher is a buffalo).

                        Originally posted by mentholated View Post
                        Yeah I've heard about the dragon skin armor, also the MRAP vehicles. I just know the MRAPs are having trouble getting funding from congress for some reason. I think thats really a shame that they order you to wear specific armor even when that might not neccessarily be the best armor available, I was reading an article about how the gear you use is usually selected by high ranking generals who don't really know what is most effective, nor do they use it or have experience with it to the degree that the grunt does. I think that's really backwards, the individual soldier should be allowed to make his own decisions regarding what gear is used to protect his or herself in combat. I do know that part of the reason behind that is ensuring that the gear is effective, but being effective and being MORE effective are two different things.
                        As far as I know, the funding for the MRAP's isn't the problem, it's increasing the production that's holding things up. My last drill, one of our sergeants was giving out information about a local company that makes parts for MRAP's and is desperate to hire people so they can boost production.

                        With Dragonskin, there have been a number of conflicting stories and studies. The Army Times claims that, in addition to being heavier, Dragonskin is not uniformly strong. Specifically, Dragonskin is made up of a large number of ceramic disks that overlap. However, they don't overlap to the same level over the entire vest. So depending on where you're hit, you could have from 1 to 3 layers of disks between you and the bullet. Think back to highschool math and venn diagrams to see what I mean.

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                        • #13
                          Re: FTAO: military guys

                          Well it may not be the case for the comment above, but you need to take into account that the majority if not all special forces operators wear personal clothing anyway which is most suitable/appropriate for them.

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                          • #14
                            Re: FTAO: military guys

                            The original question asked about the effectiveness of the body armor. There are two components to a set of armor normally that you have to understood to rate it. 1st is the carrier and the respective soft armor inserts that basically hold the second part, the plate. The carrier is normally some nylon vest that holds the inserts which are made of sewn Kevlar layers. The carrier/insert provides a means to secure the plate in vest type configuration. The liner also provides one critical role, the dissipation of the impact. You could have the best plate in the world but without something to spread the energy from the impact, you are a goner. As for the plate, the currently issued E-Sapi plates are top notch, able to withstand multiple 7.62 impacts.

                            This brings up the issue if the current issue IBA or the currently fielding IOTV are the best vest going . It depends on how you define that question. Me personally, I have never nor will I ever carry either. The IBA was a quick fix to what was mentioned above as a decrepit “Flack Vest” that offered zero ballistic protection from rounds. It works, but has a couple functionality issues, specifically the lack of mobility because of the horrible design of it. It is not flexible, and you literally feel like you are wearing a really heavy life preserver. The IBA also had flaws in that it allowed for oblique shots, a favorite of snipers. The IOTV is a huge step forward in body armor configuration, even though it uses the same E-SAPI plates. PEO Soldier (the Army’s acquisition people) came up with an armor that has lots of MOLLE (the weave mechanism) is quick releasable, and offers allot more square inches of pretection. Quick release has been used by Special operations for 10 years and is critical to any armor configuration. What that does is gives you basically a strap/cord that you pull and it literally drops the armor off your body instantly. This is huge for several factors, believe it or not drownings are big in Iraq. When you roll over in one of the canals there, you will likely drown because you are wearing a body armor that is a pain to get off in a hurry. However, the issues with the IOTV are it is there is actually too much armor as that it will take your flexibility and mobility away, I have a hard timing putting a gun to my should with it on it is so thick.. As a note, the IBA weighs around 25 punds slick with a plates and the IOTV weight about 3 pounds less. That for a medium, of you are larger the weights get heavier.

                            Now for the future.

                            Dragon Skin is a multi-plate system that uses smaller plates in resembling the scales of a dragon. It basically integrates the soft armor inserts with the smaller plates. It has potential but it is not ready for primetime. It failed some basic tests like the 140 degree test in which the glue that held the plates together disintegrated at warmer temps. That does not sound like a reasonable test, but in 120+ degree weather over there, you’re up armored vehicles can get way hotter than 140. I am sure they fixed it, but when I wore it and it was heavy as hell. The set I put on was 47 pounds slick and it had no quick release capability. The other issue found in testing was that front shots would be stopped well, but if for some reason a shot/blast came up at you, I could slide through the scales. Now I am sure with upcoming test (if they compete) they have addressed the issues, but nothing as of yet.

                            The Crye Precision is the hands down future of body armor and how soliders are protected. The system 1st off is flame resistant (no other can come do that), quick release, sweat wicking with air channels to vent air against your body and it has this new technology where instead of using layers of Kevlar, it uses some proprietary technology to mold the armor however. It is light as hell and the mobility you gain is tremendous. It also has a “blast belt” that uses suspenders to help hold this belt either with or without the vest. This belt is about 6 inches thick in the back and turns into a standard tactical gun belt up front. It offers two advantages, it accepts smaller plates all the way around your waist as well as a 6 inch one that directly covers your spin. It also help old fart like me because it offers me back support. It almost looks like a standard belt people wear working in warehouses.
                            There is nothing “wrong” with the current issue body armor and plates. They work. There can be obvious improvements to the vest which carry those plates, but overall they are fine. Stop believing all the hype in the media that soldiers are receiving inadequate stuff. It all has to do with politics and who can make the most noise in the media.
                            FYI, the rigs I wear are either the Paraclete/MSA RAV (RAV Light) or a Eagle plate carrier.
                            "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws." -Machiavelli

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                            • #15
                              Re: FTAO: military guys

                              The Press will drum up BS over anything;)
                              When I went in on my little drive north, I had the standerd frag vest and was driving a 20T dump truck (M917A1). Our anti mine kit was to toss a bunch of sand bags on the floor of the truck.

                              We didn't worry about the ceramic vest. I for one didn't want one because they were hotter to wear and heaver.(by the time we got them I was 90 days from ETS)
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