Marines Declining Extra Body Armor
Many Marines are choosing not to wear newly issued body armor, prefering to sacrifice additional safety for comfort and mobility. According to an AP report, only “3 or 4” men in a 35 man platoon chose to wear them.
This isn’t surprising. Even the standard issue “frag vests” are incredibly heavy and uncomfortable, especially in desert heat. While the added plates are only an extra five pounds, there’s only so much a man can carry and still do his job. My guess, though, is that this prediction is right on the money:
Many Marines, however, believe the politics of the issue eventually will make the plates mandatory. “The reason they issued (the plates), I think, is to make people back home feel better,” said Lance Cpl. Philip Tootle of Reidsville, Ga. “I’m not wishing they wouldn’t have issued them. I’m just wishing that they wouldn’t make them mandatory.”
And it’s not just politics that will make it happen but sound military judgment.
Last year, a study by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner said dozens of Marines killed by wounds to the torso might have survived had the larger plates been in use. “I’m sure people who … lost kidneys would have loved to have had them on,” said 2nd Lt. William Oren, a native of Southlake, Texas, who wears the plates. “More armor isn’t the answer to all our problems. But I’ll recommend them because it’s more protection.”
Roger that. Soldiers and Marines wouldn’t wear their helmets or carry their NBC protective masks with them, either, if the leadership did not require it. There may be situations when going with a lighter load makes tactical sense but not in a war where the primary casualty threat is the IED.