The Marine Corps Goes Light With New Body Armor, Plates, Packs, And Helmets

Gear
Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines patrol towards their objective during an airfield seizure exercise as a part of Exercise Steel Knight 2014 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 11, 2013.
U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Justin A. Bopp

“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:

Body Armor

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.

Related: This Marine Unit Is The First To Deploy With Suppressors On Every Weapon »

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.

Ballistic Plates

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.

Packs

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.

Helmets

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.

WATCH NEXT:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has demanded an apology from President Trump over recent comments in which he downplayed the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries suffered by American troops in an Iranian missile attack.

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter," William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW National Commander, said in a statement Friday, noting TBI is a serious injury known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches and other symptoms in the short and long-term.

Read More
The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) sits anchored at Ulithi Atoll, Dec. 7, 2019 (Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Richard A. Miller)

The Navy is investigating dozens of videos of service members changing in a bathroom which were then shared on the website PornHub, according to a NBC News report.

According to the report, an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service found the videos on PornHub earlier this month. The videos, which have since been taken down, show civilians, sailors and Marines, some of whom have visible name tapes.

Read More
U.S. Army/Jaerett Engeseth

We already knew that Army Rangers were a unique breed of badass, but performing real-time blood transfusions while under enemy fire on the battlefield takes it to an entirely new level.

Read More
(@realspaceforce/Twitter)

An upcoming comedy show is boldly mocking what everyone else is, well, already mocking: The Space Force.

Read More