Body Armor Catch 22: Mobility versus Protection?

The issue of body armor has been hotly debated over the past several years. Outcry over reported limitations of the vest and the countering concerns about additional weight and reduced mobility have combined into a confusing sea of indignation. The Catch-22 quality of all of this has been amplified by the fact that a number of the voices didn’t really appear to have any actual field knowledge. Today, it appears that some who do – the Marines – are adding their voice to the discussion:

FOX News is now reporting that Marine General James Conway is looking to know just who authorized the purchase of 84,000 flak jackets, and has ordered Quantico’s procurement officers to halt rest of the unfulfilled order.

The complaints about the new vest include excessive weight (nearly 30 pounds), and the fact that the vests can get caught on equipment when the release cord is pulled. The release cord is intended to assist should the wearer be caught under water.

Having never needed to rely on one of these vests, I haven’t got enough of a frame of reference to opine on these vests. I can say, however, that I can’t imagine having to choose between a higher level of protection, and necessary mobility. It seems to me that some techno-genius somewhere should be able to remove the need to do so. But of course, that takes money, and when we’ve got Congress debating the issue of de-funding the war, and at least one candidate for President who has expressed contempt for the military, I’m not real optimistic that the money for research and development to solve this issue is going to be there.

Until that point, it looks like our troops are still going to have to choose between improved protection or mobility, and just that doesn’t sit well with me.

Pamela Duffy is an Awesome Milblogger, who honors and writes about military men and women.