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January 07, 2006

NYR: Armor Could Have Saved Soldiers' Lives
Soldiers: Yes, But At The Cost Of Combat Effectiveness

Whatever. It's as if liberals simply have never heard the words "cost-benefit analysis" or "trade-off" before.

NYT:

A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

The ceramic plates in vests currently worn by the majority of military personnel in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines' shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.

Thirty-one of the deadly wounds struck the chest or back so close to the plates that simply enlarging the existing shields "would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome," according to the study, which was obtained by The New York Times.

For the first time, the study by the military's medical examiner shows the cost in lost lives from inadequate armor, even as the Pentagon continues to publicly defend its protection of the troops. Officials have said they are shipping the best armor to Iraq as quickly as possible. At the same time, they have maintained that it is impossible to shield forces from the increasingly powerful improvised explosive devices used by insurgents. Yet the Pentagon's own study reveals the equally lethal threat of bullets.

Soldiers aren't all in favor of more armor:

U.S. soldiers in the field were not all supportive of a Pentagon study that found improved body armor saves lives, with some troops arguing Saturday that more armor would hinder combat effectiveness.

...

But many soldiers say they feel encumbered by the weight and restricted by fabric that does not move as they do. They frequently joke as they strap on their equipment before a patrol, and express relief when they return and peel it off.

Second Lt. Josh Suthoff, 23, of Jefferson City, Mo., said he already sacrifices enough movement when he wears the equipment. More armor would only increase his chances of getting killed, he said.

"You can slap body armor on all you want, but it's not going to help anything. When it's your time, it's your time," said Suthoff, a platoon leader in the brigade's 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment. "I'd go out with less body armor if I could."

More armor might save your life from a bullet. Then again, if more armor fatigues you or simply slows you down, you might wind up catching a bullet you wouldn't have otherwise.

And there are comfort considerations, too. It's easy for the pencil-necks at the NYT to talk about throwing on another 15 pounds of hot armor on to our troops, but the soldiers have to march, dig, run, fight, live, eat, shit and sometimes sleep in their armor.

A lot of soldiers in Vietnam didn't wear the armor they were issued. Apparently today's troops are a lot better about helmet and armor discipline, but there was a reason Vietnam troops often ditched their flak jackets despite the additional danger doing so exposed them to.


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posted by Ace at 06:55 PM

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