How much body armor is too much?

Whispering Death said:
Obviously, and tactical situations always dictate the ideal equipment. But are you saying that in situations such as attacking a known terrorist hideout/strong point, fewer marines in your opinion use the "optional" armor plate in favor of greater mobility?

I always assumed that more marines would opt-out when on routine patrols to avoid becomming a heat casualty, and opt-in when in more high-risk situations.

It isn't just Marines that are having issues with this, and it's really a personal choice. I don't always wear the rear plate, esp if I'm going to be in and out of buildings all day.

Remember, we are mostly operating in and around an urban setting, the houses are small, and any buildings generally have two or more stories. Doorways over there are very tiny, and when you're making a rapid entry, you need to be able to move and manuver. Even on some of the smaller farming compounds, you still need the mauverability. It is difficult to explain without getting into tactics, which I won't do.

Convoy ops, checkpoints, etc are good ops to wear your tank suit. C&S, raids, interdiction, etc are where you'll want to be more mobile and have the flexibility to manuever.

Also, all "routine" patrols are high risk sitatutions just like any other operation. Don't think that anything standard is safer than ops you may run two or three times a week or less.
Don't think that anything standard is safer than ops you may run two or three times a week or less.

I hope all you kids going into the service read, understand and NEVER forget what this says. It will save your life.
I've worn body armor on numerous occasions and yes, even the light ones feel heavy.
And they're HOT.
Remember that people actually have limited stamina. Being forced to run around with a rifle and that bullet proof vest even without ammunition or the ruck is torture enough.
Not only is the weight the problem, but also the fact that they make your body a lot less flexible.
It's a personal decision. But you may be much better off not being tired to death when contact with the enemy actually happens.
I had Gulf War fever so bad I even applied to Haliburton so I could get into Iraq. While I still wish I'd been selected, there's a quieter, saner bit of my mind that is perfectly happy not to be traipsing about in 120 degree weather wearing my own personal LIIIA sauna.

From what little experience I've had with body armor (largely limited to Vietnam-era flak jackets and steel pots), I think I'd rather be light on my feet and chance it under most circumstances.
From what little experience I've had with body armor (largely limited to Vietnam-era flak jackets and steel pots), I think I'd rather be light on my feet and chance it under most circumstances.

This is pretty much the thinking of the Australian army.... sadly that is starting to change with the "hardened and networked" army approach we are taking.
The army just released new sapi plates that now stop 7.62AP, in a Large IBA your looking to have about 18pounds for the plates alone and there lighter then the old ones. For non extended periods of time with a basic combat load your looking at about 50to60 pounds. For 24to48hour ops your looking at 120+ pounds. The plates for the side of the IBA were developed because guys were taking shrapnel through there doors from IED's and it was penetrating from the side. Personally If the IED is strong enough go through are ballistic doors that plate isn’t going to do much for you. The only people in Iraq complaining about not having enough body armor are not the soldiers fighting but the soldiers in support positions who don’t have to deal with wearing all that stuff all the time. By the way training will get you used to wearing IBA I wore it almost every day for a year you just get used to it.
As I said in my thread on the IBA, I was getting warm in a 70 degree F room wearing nothing but shorts and an Under Armour t-shirt under the IBA. In fact, my investigator actually had me stop my treadmill run early because my pulse was running very high just doing a simulated "forced road march" -- by no means am I in incredible shape, but I'm not a slug, either. And that was with just a 10 kg / 22 lb vest.

I definitely felt like there was some restriction of movement. You figure between that and the intense heat over there, there's got to be a limit on how much you're willing to wear.
It's interesting that IBA was created because SEALS were complaining that the then-issued body armour was too heavy (and were therefore not wearing it). The origins of the armour are discussed in this bio of surgeon Marlene DeMaio who is generally credited with establishing the scientific basis of modern body armour (and who after this article was written was honored by the U.S. Congress for her contribution).

There's definitely a need to do something about the weight carried by infantrymen. Stack up night vision gear, rifle, ammo, IBA, helmet, consideration of others training manuals...and it has to be impede mobility.
If you worked out a lot and got stronger than the average soldier, would you be able to carry the armor around easily? If so, it would seem like a good way to spend your time. Also, I've seen powered cooling systems for Interceptor vests that actually blow air into it, those might help with the heat, though the batteries might cause a logistics problem. Bring your own, I guess. I know I wouldn't want to be unarmored in Iraq just in case someone decides to take a pot shot at me, but at the same time I've never been burdened with all the equipment and armor so I can't say whether it's worth it or not.
Major Liability.....When you are on foot patrol you are carrying between 50/60lb pound pack, then you have your personal weapon plus all the ammunition you might require for a good fire fight, then there are the hand grenades or rifle grenades, plus a spare belt of ammunition for machine gun and may be a mortar round or two. Then there is all your webbing, your water bottles then you have about 30 to 50 lbs of armour now you are going to march or fight some 30 to 40 miles across a desert in temperatures of around 120'o f, now you want to carry batteries for a cooling fan, one can see just what combat you have had.
Well, LeEnfield highlights the current model of the soldier, the so called "Shield of Lead" of approach, the idea that you send so many bullets and high explosive flying towards the enemy, that he keeps his head down and either gives up or is blown to pieces. The problem is always that somebody has to carry all that stuff, it leads to tremendous collateral damage (viz. Lebanon) and keeping such front line soldiers supplied creates tremendous logistical problems.

What we really need in our military doctrines is flexibility, and personal protective equipment plays a part in that. I think the gearing up of our soldiers should start with their body armor and personal weapons and build up from there, up to what they can carry. By definition we send soldiers to where someone might be shooting at them (otherwise we'd send civilians), and "dying without permission" endangers the mission, so protective gear is an essential.

There's got to be a balance though. Wearing everything you need to protect 100pct against blast, flash, fragmentation and ballistic battlefield threats (before we even get started on NBC gear), you'd probably not be able to move. But a better IBA, a helmet that protects against concussive blasts, lightweight flash gear for the hands and face, these should be possible.

The right solution is not to ditch the armor, but to engage the brain of both the soldier and the scientist.
Major liability......the heat and exhaustion will kill you just as easy a bullet, and I have seen men from heat exhaustion
Major liability......the heat and exhaustion will kill you just as easy a bullet, and I have seen men from heat exhaustion

Prime example. Trooper Lawrence from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Australian Army. He died not that long ago from heat exhaustion, carrying a mass of new equipment and protective gear in the Northern Territory.

More armour doesn't mean you will live. All it takes is the shrapnel to hit you in the face, or the round through the femoral artery and your in trouble. The fatigue caused by the equipment, in my opinion, is far more of a battlefield problem. If your exhausted and over loaded, bulky and clumsy you can't fight smart.... and fighting smart is what saves your life, not just kevlar. That is an aide.
I Think the IBA is a great piece of equipment, compared to what we had 5 years ago we have made leaps and bounds in protective equipment. The balance between personal safety and mobility has been a problem since man discovered how to make armor. As a solider I am conditioned to deal with fatigue I run 20miles a week including a 10mile run every Friday I do road marches in full battle rattle I train harder then I fight. My resting heart rate at my last physical was a 51, the human body can be trained to deal with conditions far worse then you can imagine. Remember also that as a leader I choose what goes on a mission, if my soldiers start to become fatigued I will change the packing list. However In the current theater of operations we fight a high mobility war and even light troops have light vehicle support. Making it rare that troops have to carry loads for extended times therefore a 60pound combat load is not overburdening
This is the sort of load a British soldier is expected to carry with him when out in the field. There is more on the floor out of sight

Mobility and speed are keys to victory. Shoot, move, communicate as we like to say. That is not easy bogged down with tons of body armor. You dont sit around in the same spot and duke it out, you are constantly trying to move and flank. Not to mention the strain of a full combat load on a long patrol, that shit is not easy no matter how strong you are. Fatigue is a line soldiers worst enemy, combat effectiveness will drop. Sorry if this has already been said, I only caught the last page.
Last edited: