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The Marine Corps Goes Light With New Body Armor, Plates, Packs, And Helmets
“Everything but the kitchen sink” might as well be the maxim of post-9/11 Marines who lugged half their body weight across Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, after years of bad backs, aching knees, and endless griping, the Marine Corps — in a joint effort with the Army — is racing to lighten the load.
The service is planning some changes to its body armor, ballistic plates, packs, and issuing lighter helmets across the Fleet Marine Force, according to Marine Corps Systems Command. Take a look at what’s in store for Marines:
The new armor, the Plate Carrier Generation III, is a lighter and less bulky version of its predecessor designed to “provide a smaller overall footprint than the current plate carrier while maintaining the same soft armor coverage and protection level,” according to a statement from Marine Corps Systems Command.
Plate Carrier Generation III prototype.U.S. Marine Corps photo
Though still in the prototype phase, the new plate carrier will reduce the length of the vest by 1.25 inches. The carrier also comes with new shoulder straps for improved fit, so Marines can say goodbye to the days of cutting their foam bed roll into jerry-rigged shoulder padding. Plus, it’s about 23% lighter than past models.
The new armor is designed to accommodate Marines of all shapes and sizes. The plate carrier will come in all the usual sizes, plus small short, X-small short, small long, and comes with a 6 x 6 inch side plate for those smaller-stature devil dogs, and should help outfit an additional 14,568 Marines with gear that actually, you know, fits.
The Corps is also looking at new ballistic plates to replace the standard Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert and the Enhanced Side Ballistic Insert, which, though effective, are heavy and expensive. The initiative, called Ballistic Trade Space Project, will explore whether a lighter plate could successfully counter the majority of threats facing Marines downrange.
U.S. Marine Cpl. Sean Trabert, a Buffalo, New York native, carries two packs during a hike at Sekiyama, Japan, during exercise Forest Light March 15, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra
To ensure the current USMC Pack System stands up to the rigors and trials Marines face overseas, Marines deployed to Norway have been experimenting with reinforced frame prototypes. While the results aren’t in yet, the “reinforced frame has proven to have significantly higher durability over the legacy frame,” according to the Marine Corps.
U.S. Marines patrol to an objective during Korean Marine Exchange Program 17-1 Nov. 29, 2016 at Pohang, South Korea.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra
Rounding out the latest round of gear improvements is the Enhanced Combat Helmet, which purportedly offers additional protection against small arms and frag. On June 9, the Marine Corps announced that Gentex Corporation in Simpson, Pennsylvania, was awarded with a five-year contract to produce and deliver enough of the lightweight helmets to outfit every Marine, both at home and and abroad, as Task & Purpose previously reported. The first order of 35,424 helmets is expected to hit the fleet for follow-on testing in September 2017; assuming all goes well, the I, II and III Marine Expeditionary Forces will receive the new headgear in Spring 2018.
From body armor to ballistic plates, packs, and helmets, the Corps is trimming down and likely saving knees and backs in the process, so long as nobody assumes that just because the loadout is 20 pounds lighter, Marines should carry that many more batteries and rounds.
Mark Mitchell is stepping down as the acting assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, a position he has held since late June, a defense official confirmed on Tuesday.
No information was immediately available about why Mitchell decided to resign. His last day will be Nov. 1 and he will be replaced by Thomas Alexander, who is currently leading the Defense Department's counternarcotics efforts, the defense official told Task & Purpose.
The U.S. Military Academy identified a cadet who has been missing since Friday evening as 20-year-old Kade Kurita.
A search began for Kurita after he failed to report for a scheduled military skills competition around 5:30pm on Friday. West Point officials said in the Tuesday press release that he is believed to still be nearby.
Vets can relive their childhood dreams of building massive block armies with free tickets to Legoland this November
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made "momentous" decisions regarding Ankara's military offensive in northeast Syria, with both sides saying they had agreed to conduct joint military patrols in the tense region.
Russian and Turkish officials said a five-day U.S.-brokered truce had been extended for 150 hours, starting on midday on October 23, and that Kurdish militias would be required to clear out of a 30-kilometer buffer zone along the Turkish border.