More Body Armor. Ugh.

bodyarmor200a.jpgThe seemingly endless drive to encase soldiers and marines in more and more armor continues -- whether the troops want it or not. The lastest, Inside Defense tells us, is "QuadGuard," a full body suit that's been shipped out to about 5,000 marines in Iraq. There's no mention of how many of 'em are actually using the things.QuadGuard is made out of "Dyneema," supposedly "15 times stronger than steel." Worn with the standard Interceptor body armor, it comes in two models: QuadGuard IV is a one-piece. QuadGuard V is more modular, "allowing marines to remove some parts of the equipment if they are not necessary." Total weight: about nine and a half pounds. That's on top of the approximately 42 pounds taken up by fully-loaded Interceptor gear, and the 5-6 pounds for the newly-required, side and shoulder guards. (Let's not even get into that crazy facial armor or the moon suit.)Designed by researchers at Oklahoma State University, with some Naval Research Lab cash, QuadGuard has the potential to "reduce fatalities by 10% and serious injuries by 30-40%," its backers claim. Of course, there's mention of how many of those benefits will be given back, with the additional heat, weight, and loss of mobility that comes with all that extra gear. Could this help some ultra-exposed troops? Sure. Let's just hope the higher-ups don't start forcing everyone on patrol to stop wearing 'em. Especially not when the Iraqi summer is starting to kick in, and temperatures start climbing into the high 130's. As Sgt. Eric Daniel noted a few months back:

Something folks don't take into consideration is the tradeoffs associated with wearing additional armor. Just before I rotated out, we were getting issued the DAPS (deltoid auxiliary something-or-other...) and the "space marine" shoulder pads. While these offered additional protection to the side of the chest and shoulders (from small arms fire and small fragments) they were so cumbersome to wear that you were effectively immobile while wearing them. In fact, it was so bulky that I could not put it on and then climb through the turrets on the LMTVs and HUMVEES; I had to put the armor on top of the vehicle, get in the turret, and then suit up. Furthermore, while my small arms protection may have gone up, I was a dead man when it came to vehicle roll overs or surviving an IED/VBIED blast. This is just with the DAPS/ shoulder armor, mind you. Now they're talking about equipping gunners with entire ensembles of kevlar armor (complete with portable AC systems). That's just insane.
UPDATE 7:42 AM: Inside Defense also passes along another interesting tidbit. Just six weeks ago, the Army said that any soldier caught wearing Dragon Skin body armor "would have to turn it in and have it replaced with authorized gear." Now, service officials are going to put the ballyhooed protective equipment through a weeklong series of tests, "to help the Army determine if the body armor meets the Armys standards."UPDATE 9:36 AM: Murdoc has more on the moon suit.
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