img2s.jpgThe Army's new, Advanced Combat Helmet might be more than a little damaging to G.I.s' health, according to the Wall Street Journal.Made of a new type of Kevlar, the helmet is stronger and lighter than its predecessor. But the new helmet has a critical flaw, Col. Poffenbarger contends: It is about 8% smaller than the old helmet, offering less protection on the back and side of the head.In past wars, this might not have been a big problem. In infantry-style combat, soldiers typically are struck in the front of the head as they charge toward the enemy. But in Iraq, where the deadliest threat is remote-detonated roadside bombs, many soldiers are getting blasted on the sides and back of the head, says Col. Poffenbarger. In other words, they are getting hit in areas where the new helmet offers less coverage."I've become convinced that for this type of guerrilla fight, we are giving away coverage that we need to save lives," says Col. Poffenbarger, a 42-year-old former Green Beret.His research is based on about 160 head-trauma patients who have passed through the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, where he works. Because the hospital houses the only American neurosurgeons in Iraq, virtually every serious head-trauma patient is treated by him or his partner... Extrapolating from this, Col. Poffenbarger estimates the new helmet might result in a 30% increase in serious head traumas if distributed throughout the entire force in Iraq...For now, the Army is committed to issuing the helmet to all 840,000 soldiers in the force by 2007, says Col. John Norwood, the Army's project manager for soldier equipment. (via Phil Carter)

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