USASOC recently made a $5 million purchase of Ops Core ballistic helmets for their troops, a worthwhile, if expensive, investment at retail price of $882 each. Any soldier will tell you that the MICH was light years ahead of the K-Pot and now SOF is taking the next step with the Ops Core ballistic helmet.
Weighing in at just a few pounds, the Ops Core helmet delivers in several key areas that SOF personnel have been calling for in recent years. We used to look with envy at Delta and Ranger Reconnaissance Detachment soldiers who had their cut down MICH helmets which made it easier and more comfortable to wear Peltors under. As a sniper, I would take my MICH off whenever I could to obtain better cheek to stock contact while in a firing position. The low cut of the MICH made it difficult to get into the proper firing position behind a long gun, the problem becoming exaggerated further while in the prone position.
The Ops Core helmet corrects these issues with its lower profile and resolves a number of others as well, including a flaw in night vision mounts rather than in helmets. When soldiers attach their night vision device to the swing arm, which is in turn snapped into the helmet mount itself, the result is that the NODs rattle back and forth. To fix this rattle, soldiers have been improvising a tie down with rubber bands to hold their NODs steady. Ops Core looks for a more permanent measure by introducing an elastic lanyard that cinches down the NODs for you.
Another solution improvised by Special Operations troops was attaching LED lights to their helmets with Velcro, a necessity while searching buildings or working on casualties. Later, Surefire came out with a decent helmet light but it was too easy to accidentally discharge the IR light and unknowingly drain the batteries before actually needing to use it. Ops Core has provided mounting brackets on their helmet, making it easier for soldiers to attach their preferred light source or even a helmet camera if the mission calls for it.
Initial reports from soldiers serving overseas are very favorable. Let's hope that SOF continues this recent trend of adopting lighter, more streamlined gear for their troops.
Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger and SF Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.