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Re: Body Armor and equipment weight

From: Thomas Barclay <Thomas.Barclay@s...>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 1998 13:00:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Body Armor and equipment weight

> Los wrote:
> >
> > I'm as guilty of it as the next and almost never wore body 
> > armor(except noone preplanned door kicker that we went on). Even
when > we were busting up riots and mobs where there was four of us and
> > of them. Stupid when you thing back on it, but somethimes projecting
> > the absolute certainty that you will kill anyone who blinks at you >
the wrong way works as well as a ton of body armor in stopping > >
> I don't know about actual troops, but I have a friend in Michigan who
> has been a cop for five years, now, and he has worn his body armor
> (about 15-20 lbs worth, I think) every day of his career.

Ah, but think of the difference (I know a lot of RCMP members as part 
of my job) 

Police Officer:
1. Backup (most of the time) at hand, including pickup
2. Sits for a lot of the time (paperwork, in car, on break)
3. Travels in a vehicle
4. Wears BA to stop pistol rounds, shotguns
5. Often have Canine units for entering questionable areas at night 
or that are 'close'
6. Uses a vehicle to hump gear other than flashlight, baton, sidearm, 
cuffs, notepad and ammo
7. isn't expected to enter protracted firefight (It's a bad idea, and 
that is what ERT/SWAT teams are for if need be)

The important points are two and three.

Soldier (Regular)
1. May not have backup at hand
2. Has to hump his own gear around a lot of the time (if he's lucky 
he has a vehicle)
3. Wears BA primarily to stop fragmentation and concussion damage, 
and rounds at long range or of low power. Many rounds will chew right 
through BA, and some do more damage to people in BA because it slow 
the round and mushrooms it 
4. Carries ammo, web gear, long arm, possibly sidearm, knife (or 
several), water, mission specific gear (AA, demo, med, EW, comms, 
GPS, designator), and if moving on foot for a distance - a big ass 
pack with sleeping bag, bug net, a tarp, MRE/Food (not exactly the 
same...), more ammo, mines, ammo for the support weapon, grenades, 
etc. You get the idea - he carries a lot more than a cop. 
5. May be in a protracted firefight without resupply, and fight may 
be of much greater intensity
6. Will have to operate in whatever terrain he is in

So the soldier does more movement on foot, for longer periods (I've 
been on ex where we moved for more than a day with only short 
breaks), carrying way more gear potentially, ready for much more 
violent and high volume fights, in a much higher threat environment, 
and with the need to carry more food and such. 

Most BA is heavy (esp if you have steel/ceramic inserts), 
questionable against most modern long arm or support weapon rounds - 
mostly only useful at long range or versus arty or grenade fragments 
(another reason why SF guys tend to dodge it is I'm sure they don't 
expect to be Arty'd as much as your average ground pounder), 
restricts mobility, isn't incredibly comfortable, and if you've ever 
put on a brain bucket, you'd realize they cut your hearing and sight 
which really is awful when you're doing small unit tactical movement 
esp if you are on point! 

For line troops, the benefits of BA often outweigh the downside (they 
tend to occupy set positions or execute short duration patrols, so 
the weight vs protection trade is worth it for them) but for anyone 
doing Long Range Recce, behind the lines ops, or who has a rack of 
other weight to carry, it just isn't that desirable. Heck, I know a 
lot of infanteers who'd gladly turf their helmets the minute they get 
in the bush (trading the hearing and sight for the protection).


Thomas Barclay
Software Specialist
Police Communications Systems
Software Kinetics Ltd.
66 Iber Road, Stittsville
Ontario, Canada, K2S 1E7
Reception: (613) 831-0888
PBX: (613) 831-2018
My Extension: 2034
Fax: (613) 831-8255
Our Web Page:

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