Tuesday I ran an article about the HALO CT Summit at Paradise Point. The clip from a news spot in that post featured some gear (and one of the HMFICs) of US PALM. Ken Good, the founder of Progressive Combat Solutions, was wearing a US PALM Desert Tracker Rig as he explained what he'd be teaching at the Summit. I talked to the guys at US PALM yesterday to get a little more information and some background on Desert Tracker System - I'd seen it once before at the USPB SOG Conference in El Paso (where it was attracting a lot of attention from BORTAC and some Texas Ranger tac guys) but now it's really catching on.
The Desert Tracker System includes a fighting rig, a hardened back pack and soft armored blast belt. It got its start in December about two years ago, when a Law Enforcement Officer from a large agency was killed in a firefight with suspected narcotics traffickers near the border. Numerous law enforcement agencies responded. One of them was a very squared away and proficient SWAT unit from the region. However, that unit was required by policy and procedures in place to roll out to any such incident fully jocked up. Doctrine required they wear their "heavy vests" (external armor) and all equipment. Thus despite the heat and conditions they showed up to their rally point in full kit and started tracking in. In about a mile they suffered a heat casualty. They took care of him and pushed on, shortly thereafter suffering a second heat casualty. They sorted him out and called for MEDEVAC but were effectively out of the incident at that point in time.
"One of the SWAT sergeants and I were talking later," one of the HMFICs at US PALM advised me, "and he was saying there has got to be a better way. We went to watch a shooting course, saw some of the BORTAC and other operators move, how encumbered they were with the OTVs...then [we] started getting requests from guys offshore and overseas...guys with a lot of combat experience who didn't want issued gear. We worked with them, took their input, worked with the guys from that team, with Border Patrol, and started looking at what was available..."
The system is a 3-sided rig with a backpack that functions as the fourth side. US PALM advises the backpack is configured to put a ballistic plate exactly where it needs to go to provide maximum protection to the organs with minimal encumbrance (meaning you don't just drop a plate down in it), with with the rig and pack interfaced you have all around coverage. It's built to accommodate the wearer's movement so it's not just functioning tactically as protection, it's acting athletically. This articulated movement keeps it from hindering movement as badly as other rigs and PCs. This sort of modular capacity allows those who don't need it (like Customs air crew, who have armored seats) to shed the pack and lighten the load. The same goes for vehicle operators and others in specific situations or during specific mission requirements (enclosed spaces, etc.) This mitigates fatigue and makes them more effective (thus for instance mitigating the wear on a pilot's mental acuity and physical reserves on a long support flight).
That Fox News video was the first place it was actually publicly shown, though it is currently operational in Iraq, Afghanistan and other deployed locales.
For further information on the Desert Tracker Rig, what it will hold, what sort of plates it will carry, etc. contact US PALM, or make contact with them at the HALO CT Summit this Fall.
US PALM: http://uspalm.com/
For more on the HALO CT Summit: http://www.thehalosummit.com/
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US PALM on Twitter: https://twitter.com/USPALM