Thursday, January 12, 2006

# Posted 8:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BODY ARMOR BLUES: The NYT reports that
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such 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.
That makes the Pentagon sound pretty callous, huh? For a more balanced perspective, check out this debate about body armor between two retired colonels on PBS.
(13) opinions -- Add your opinion

"A secret Pentagon study"

Isn't the Pentagon making itself look callous? It wrote the study.
It wrote the study. It did not write the New York Times article David quotes.
By callous, I was not referring to the study, but the part about the Pentagon declining to send out more armor despite requests from the field. If you read the PBS transcript, you may get the impression that there are technical issues involved and that the Pentagon didn't simply refuse to protect it soldiers (a point not exactly made by the Times).
Your logic escapes me.

The Pentagon study provided the facts. The NYTimes accurately summarised them. Neither of the Colonels contradicted the NYTimes article and mostly commented on the Pentagon study. And finally, the Pentagon is now providing this body armor to the field.

The damning piece of evidence is from the NYTimes article:

"Individual soldiers and units continued to buy their own sets."

The armor was available. The marines bought it themselves. You would have to explain how "the Pentagon didn't simply refuse to protect it soldiers."
Interesting, but perhaps pointless.

New technology comes along all the time. But, once you are commited to one path it's awfully hard to change, especially so if the increased benefit is marginal (viewed from the institutional POV) - I'm sure the personal calculus is different.

By definition most of your injuries will come from upprotected zones... and armour is hot and heavy, the more you put one the more heat casulaties you get, the slower your men, and more tired they get when NOT being shot at.


Pretty early in WWII the US realized the Sherman (and Grant) series of tanks were going to be seriously outgunned by German armour. They decided though that changing the production lines for a heavier tank was less important than simply making MORE Shermans. Germans couldn't shoot them fast enough though, but the Yank/Canuck/Brit tankers took it on the chin everytime they met up with better German tanks - and doctrine.

The Germans had a similar reaction with their Mk IV Tanks... especially in Russia... they took that design as far as it could go (up gunned, up armoured, up enginned) rather than trying to switch production lines to produce more Mark V's.

Airplanes: Same thing The german Me109 was produced and upgraded right to the end of the war, even though by the end it was obsolescent compared to Allied front line fighters.

The allies could have thrown a lot of resources in Jet fighters ....they decided to produce better and more prop planes which they already had better than parity at.

The point being - it is possible that new armour is better, perhaps even much better - but it takes time and may not be worth the effort.
Anon, you ignore the points that:

a) the Marines both as individuals and as *units* were buying and wearing them
b) the Pentagon is now providing them

Both of these dispose with your heat and weight arguments. As to the moral calculus used during WWII for tanks, I'm not sure how it applies to Iraq where we are vastly superior to our enemy in terms of logistics.

Lastly, certainly you don't think that "80 percent of the [M]arines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived" classifies as marginal.

What is in fact marginal is the cost:

$260 * 140000 = $36,400,000
It's a little rough sorting through this without having read the "secret Pentagon study." Which, of course, none of us have.
Strike that, cs indicates in his first post that he has read the secret Pentagon study. ("The Pentagon study provided the facts. The NYTimes accurately summarised them.")

Can you provide us a link?
I'll take the word of the

NYTimes Reporter Michael Moss
Major General William Catto
Lt. Col. Roger Charles (Ret.) and
Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (Ret.)

who have. I never said that I'd read the study. I take the evaluation of Lt. Col. Roger Charles (Ret.):

"I know the reporter, Michael Moss, that did this work and [I am] very confident in his meticulous research,"

What I sense here is a need to defend the King at all costs. What I would prefer is the need to defend the grunt at small cost.
Ok, ignatius, here it is:


Read it. Remember that these Marines are serving in your stead. The least YOU could do is give them the support they deserve.
30 -35% of body weight is about maximum carrying weight. In 100deg heat water is as important as plates. Sitting in a hole under fire you want more plates. Running around houses, up and down stairs you make do with less. In any case let the mission commander decide; he is on scene and responsable for the action.
cs, you said the NYT accurately summarized the report. Now you back off that and say someone you trust says it's accurate. There is a difference.

Then you toss some empty 'advice' for no reason I can fathom. And who's this King you refer to? And who's defending him at any cost, let alone all costs?

You'll get a little more respect if you learn to be a little more careful with your words.
Ignatius, are you Opus Dei? Perhaps Franciscan, because you certainly weren't educated by Jesuits. They'd have beaten weak reasoning like that out of you.

Read the report yourself. Three pages. With pictures.
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