It’s been a really good couple of days, and we have been pretty busy. I was thinking the body armor issue that has been floating around the news the past week or so, and I am a little tired of the whole thing. I listened to the politicians say that the armor is inadequate, that the military is short-changing the soldiers, putting them in unnecessary risk, and the “we owe it to them” debate. I am pretty sure a lot of this is publicity is generated by the publics concern for the safety of its men-at-arms, but I wonder if people ever think about the practical side of the debate.
I say this not because I am lacking in armor; it’s exactly the opposite. I have all the armor I am supposed to wear, and I wear it faithfully. The point I am trying to make is, this stuff weighs a lot. I recall in a book written a long time ago, called “The Soldiers Load” and in it the author discusses the weight the soldiers carries and how it affects the fighting ability. I believe the author was discussing the ability of a soldier to fight in any condition with all kinds of items in his pack, but the same holds true today. I don’t carry my pack into battle anymore, but I have almost 50 pounds of gear attached to my body armor. The armor plates, ammo, weapon, helmet, vest, and other items weighs a lot, and I am not sure how much more I can put on and be reasonably expected to hold up.
Another point that can be made is I have yet to see anybody out here without the necessary armor. I am sure that there are some, but we have to take in to account the job of the person, and if that person is even in any danger. I am talking about the amazing “fobbit” that anonymous alluded to in a previous comment. I didn’t realize what it was, but I am told it is somebody who never leaves the FOB (Forward Operating Base) Well, if that is the fobbit’s job, then so be it, I am never going to call somebody out and tell them “you don’t know what its like out there”, because they job they do is what they are told. However, if you are a fobbit, and you dwell in the center of an airfield, someplace in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey, I think the need for you to have Full Body armor is alleviated by the fact that you are nowhere near the combat zone. So, when people say OMG the military is short 23,000 sets, you have to take it with a big rock of salt, because not everybody needs it. Now, that’s not to say that everybody shouldn’t have it, but let’s prioritize here.
Now, the vehicles. Let me tell you that a Hummer weights a lot, and it weighs even more with full armor. Our truck probably gets 6 miles to the gallon, and has a million dollars worth of hardware in it. That said, I don’t think anybody who hasn’t served, fully understands what a 155mm artillery shell will do to one of these trucks. A round that size has a destructive radius of, say, 400 meters, and fragments traveling at near the speed of sound may travel for as many as 1000 meters or more. At that speed, very little is going to stop it. But, I believe what we have is adequate for the job we do. But it would be impossible for the military to equip every vehicle this way. The cost would be extravagant. That’s not to say that the life of the person inside the truck has a dollar value, and I appreciate the fact that my truck is fully armored, believe me. But what is the cost of adding more armor to a tank that is already rated as the best tank on the planet? What is the cost of adding armor to a Hummer that will need to be replaced in 3 years, because the weight destroys the suspension? How do you add armor to a jeep that can’t sustain the weight?
These are terrific questions, and I wish I had the answers. I hope we find out soon. A life lost is unfortunate, but a life lost because they were not equipped is a tragedy.