Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Army and Marines Are Racing To Make Lighter Body Armor As Soon As Possible
U.S. Army and Marine Corps troops downrange carry a hell of a lot of stuff. According to a new Government Accountability Office report on the branch efforts to improve personal protective equipment, or PPE, Marines fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2016 humped an average 117-pound load. For the Army, it was 119 pounds, and that figure will likely increase for personnel deployed to Afghanistan in 2017.
This, the GAO report notes, is generally bad news: The 1990 Army Field Manual 21-18 insists that fighting loads should not exceed 48 pounds and approach march loads not exceed 72 pounds. Weighing down troops with excessive loads risks “negative effects on personnel mobility, lead to earlier fatigue onset, and exacerbate the risk associated with high-temperature operational environments,” all things you generally don’t want when you’re risking a three-hour firefight with the Taliban.
Luckily, there’s a clear solution: not just lighter body armor, but better, too. The Army and Marine Corps want to reduce the weight of existing protective systems by 40 to 50%, or six to seven pounds, and according to the report.
Primary personal protective equipment and approximate weight specifications based on U.S. Army and Marine Corps data from 2016.Photo via GAO/DoD
Between the tactical vests, plate carriers with hard armor ballistic inserts, combat helmet, goggles, and gloves, PPE systems alone add 27 pounds to troop loads. As Army Times notes, service officials believe the branches’ body armor standards are "not reflective" of current efforts, and in 2016, initiated efforts to incorporate the latest protective technology into new designs to increase mobility.
In April 2017, PEO Soldier announced that the Army could see a replacement body armor system as soon as 2018, including a new tactical vest and a futuristic, motorcycle-style helmet. The new torso and extremity protection system (or TEP), isn’t just five pounds lighter, but designed for operational flexibility with a scalable vest, ballistic combat shirt, pelvic protection system, and battle belt.
The new torso and extremity protection system (TEP) with scalable components.Photo via PEO Soldier
While the TEP could see action downrange as early as 2018, troops will have to wait a little longer for new headwear. The lightweight Integrated Head Protection System features a “mandible” jaw protector, visor, and “ballistic applique” that serves as a protective layer. Not bad considering the Army just authorized light-to-dark reactive sunglasses on top of that.
The Integrated Head Protection System will make its debut in 2020.Photo via DoD
In the meantime, the Army’s working on another, more immediate option for tactical headgear. The polyethylene Advanced Combat Helmet Generation II will, if PEO Soldier gets its way, weigh 24% less than the existing 15-year-old Kevlar model. Although this difference actually comes out to just a pound of difference between the two models , but that small bit of extra mobility could make all the difference during an ambush by ISIS thugs outside of Mosul.
Of course, there other options for reducing troop loads: “precise and on-demand resupply,” namely through aerial delivery systems like the Joint Precision Airdrop System implemented in recent years, or the Army’s prototype unmanned dual-rotor DP-14 Hawk could help rapidly and efficiently deliver food and water, arms and ammunition to troops deployed in hard-to-reach spots.
But until the Pentagon engineers the ultimate take-out service for warfighters downrange, we’ll take the future of personal body armor anyway. And if the GAO report is any strong signal to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., it’s that there’s no price tag too high when it comes to giving troops downrange the next-generation combat armor they deserve.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.