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Body Armor Blather

By Michael Fumento

Kudos to Michelle Malkin for handing Hillary Clinton's head to her over the issue of body armor for our troops. Having spent just a little more time in the stuff than the New York senator and having done so in Iraq on some very hot days, I can say that there are real limits to simply piling armor on even if it does provide more protection. And that's the inherent problem. Ingenious fixes aside, more armor generally means more weight and less mobility. It's not so much the Kevlar layers but the ceramic plates inserted into them. When soldiers get too hot or tired, they remove not what is least important but what is most heavy and simply most accessible. As to mobility, I found out about that before I even left for Iraq when I tried firing a rifle from the prone position and found my thick Kevlar neck guard pushed my helmet forward making seeing--much less firing--essentially impossible. (Some of the newer helmets take care of this problem.)

To some extent, training can overcome the weight factor. I trained so hard in armor and heavy ruck I could have done ballet in them--were I able to do ballet. But no amount of training compensates for the added heat. It was that extra heat that contributed to my colon rupturing and practically killed me. Insofar as nobody shot at me or blew up an IED near me, in my case body armor was not a life saver but almost a life taker.

So take heed. This is a complex issue, as 140,000 troops in Iraq understand but as Hillary appears not to.

January 11, 2006 11:13 PM  ·  Military