Army Personal Blast Sensors

The Army is fielding tiny blast sensors to gauge the effects of explosions on individual soldiers.

The Army is fielding tiny blast sensors to gauge the effects of explosions on individual soldiers.

USA Today (“Army device will gauge blast hits on soldiers“):

The Army will outfit a brigade of soldiers in Afghanistan in the next few weeks with gauges worn on their bodies that can alert medics to an explosion’s severity — proof of possible brain injury.

It is the beginning of an effort over the next several months to wire up soldiers and vehicles with sensors, black boxes and digital cameras.
The data may shed light on how blast exposures damage the brain, even when a soldier appears only dazed, researchers say. An estimated 300,000 troops have suffered mild brain injuries, mostly from blast, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“(This) is the beginning of a process…that’s going to lead us to collecting the data researchers need to untie this Gordian knot,” says Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff.

Sensors will measure blast effects from buried bombs known as improvised explosive devices that have killed nearly 3,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and wounded about 30,000. The newest sensor, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for nearly $1 million, is about the size of the time piece on a wristwatch and weighs less than an ounce.

Soldiers will wear three — on the breast and shoulder of their body armor, and on a helmet strap against the back of their necks.

Back in my day, we had small sensors that would measure radiological exposure and tapes and other devices that would measure exposure to chemical agents; this is this generation’s answer to that. Given how big a factor IEDs have been in producing American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is long overdue. And $1 million is not even a rounding error in the Defense budget, so quite cost effective, to boot.

The fact that the weight is negligible is a bonus, too. The Army has continued to ratchet up the amount of gears our soldiers need to carry. But an additional 3 ounces for something that could save their life is worthwhile.

via Caitlin Fitz Gerald

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kolohe says:

    Ha, saw the headline and just had to read the article to make sure ‘personal’ and ‘sensors’ were spelled correctly; would be a significantly different story if they weren’t.