Note: part data in this report has weights because that the Army’s older human body armor system, the enhanced Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) and also older helmets. The military is in the procedure of replacing the IOTV v a lighter system, which weighs 27 pounds because that torso body armor plus helmet. For much more details on the advancement of human body armor and weight reduction goals, see the previously report in the at sight Soldiers series, “Soldier protection Today.”


Executive an introduction

Body armor conserves lives. Contemporary body armor has provided U.S. Troops an unparalleled advantage on the battlefield, boosting survivability and reducing casualties. This protection comes in ~ a price, however. U.S. Soil troops today carry an average of 27 pounds of personal protective equipment (body armor and helmet). This load comes on top of an already heavy burden consisting the a weapon, ammunition, water, batteries, and other gear. Surveys from current wars have discovered dismounted floor combat troops moving 90 come 140 pounds or an ext in combat. Hefty loads mitigate mobility, boost fatigue, and also reduce mission performance.

This report, the fourth in the Super Soldiers series, examines the heavy burden that dismounted floor combat troops. It recommends a paradigm change for thinking about survivability, balancing the services of enhanced protective equipment and also other gear versus its prices in weight and reduced mobility and also performance. The report concludes with references for adjustments to policies and equipment to improve overall survivability.

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Key Findings

The heavy weight and also bulk of body armor reduce soldier performance.Experiments have actually demonstrated that heavy loads impact mobility and situational awareness, causing a measurable to decrease in shooting solution time.Because dismounted soldiers are minimal by what they have the right to physically lug into battle, soldiers face tradeoffs between mobility, protection, and also lethality. Heavier loads additionally increase fatigue and also can reduce mission power overall. A paradigm transition is required from a narrow emphasis on defense to considering overall soldier survivability.The benefit of extr armor have to be balanced against its effect on mobility, survivability, and also mission performance. Soldiers have constantly carried hefty weight into combat, yet today’s extreme weight burden has actually severe consequences for combat performance, cognition, and also injury. Extr weight reduces cognitive and tactical performance and mobility, however the military has not commissioned one authoritative assessment to tie weight to procedures of work effectiveness. Modern technology often increases, fairly than decreases, the fill of the soldier. Army and Marine Corps doctrine acknowledges the harmful effects of too much weight, but in practice historic guidelines for weight limits are no followed. One difficulty is that study studies frequently tie heavier lots to slower soldier movement, but often do not take it the following step to attach loads to steps of operational effectiveness, such as marksmanship, maneuver, or exposure to enemy fire. Leaders do not have actual or viewed authority to change the level the protection based on conditions ~ above the ground. Current body armor is over-designed.Optimizing human body armor needs for injury criteria and also threat can reduce weight.Tailoring human body armor for individual soldiers might potentially rise area coverage, improve mobility, and reduce weight.

Recommendations

The military should:

Launch an authoritative research to far better assess the relationship between load and also combat effectiveness, building on existing literature. Wear a thorough assessment of crucial supplies and also the fidelity of timely resupply, and educate leaders on the prestige of minimizing loads. Plainly delegate government to company-level leaders to modify the level of protection as needed, based upon the details threat and mission. Optimize human body armor demands for the actual hazard environment and not over-design human body armor come protect against unrealistic combine of threats, adding unnecessary weight. Command an assessment of the feasibility of tailored human body armor and potential benefits in lessened weight, increased area coverage, and improved mobility. This evaluate should encompass an testimonial of manufacturing methods to minimize the cost of adopting personally tailored solutions at scale

The burden of Armor

Body armor offers increasingly progressed protection, but at a price in soldier performance. Body armor is heavy, bulky, and hot. It has actually the immediate result of hampering soldier mobility by including weight, limiting joint mobility, and restricting activity in chop windows, doorways, and also vehicles not designed for the mass of modern-day armor. Additionally, armor trap heat, enhancing soldier heat load, a specific concern in warm environments. Through contributing to in its entirety soldier load, armor additionally restricts visibility, to reduce situational awareness, and also delays solution times. Cumulatively, armor’s weight, bulk, and also thermal load boosts soldier fatigue and also reduces physical and also cognitive performance.

Increased soldier load not just slows movement and increases fatigue, but additionally has to be experimentally demonstrated to to decrease situational awareness and shooting an answer times. Heavy loads diminish situational awareness by tilting the head at a bottom angle and increasing the lot of load that needs to be controlled when a soldier stops quickly.1 In managed experiments, loads likewise have been demonstrated come adversely affect shooting solution times, boosting the time it take it soldiers to fire correctly by 0.1 second relative come unloaded conditions.2 Further, experiments involving soldiers wearing different sizes of armor indicate big armor can lengthen the time between acquiring and acting top top a series of targets. Put on a smaller dimension of body armor 보다 advised caused speeds similar to the baseline without human body armor, yet when wearing the advised size of body armor, the moment to interact two targets lengthened through 0.2 seconds. The overall time to complete a five-target task prolonged by up to 0.7 seconds, indigenous 6.3 without body armor come 7 seconds as soon as wearing conventional fit human body armor.3 Together, this studies show that dynamic marksmanship, whereby the capability to stop and also acquire a target is critical, is endangered by hefty weight and also bulky loads.

Armor bring away this hefty toll top top soldier power without adding any benefit to the soldier until the moment of impact. As military researcher Dr. James Q. Zheng explains, “Body armor is essentially parasitic weight; the contributes nothing to the soldier’s operational efficiency until the moment it is forced to withstand a possibly lethal threat.”4 This is not to imply that human body armor is not reliable in stopping ballistic risks or is not valuable. Indeed, human body armor saves lives. However, it additionally comes with a hefty burden. Human body armor boosts protection but decreases soldier performance.

The “Iron Triangle” concept, often used to soil vehicles, catches this challenge. The “Iron Triangle” represents the tradeoff in between mobility, protection, and lethality. Because there is a limit to the weight a automobile can support, any type of increase to among the variables results in deterioration in the others. Dismounted soldiers face a similar challenge. They have to physically bring every piece of devices they have into battle. This means that any improvements in security or lethality that include weight alleviate mobility. Mobility have the right to be regained by to reduce soldier weight and also equipment, yet generally at a cost in protection or lethality. Thus, soldiers remain trapped in ~ the stole Triangle.

Mobility is critical factor in mission effectiveness and also survivability. Maneuver increases the opportunities of preventing enemy contact or initiating call on one’s own terms. Extra weight may in fact lead come engagements the otherwise can be avoided with mobility.5 Further, unlike floor vehicles that perform not tire over a mission, soldiers fatigue. The consequences of supporting hefty weight if moving result in reduced cognition, responsiveness, and decision-making. A narrow emphasis on protection alone have the right to be harmful. Soldier survivability is about more than just protection. Survivability includes situational awareness, mobility, and also lethality together well. Finding the enemy, outmaneuvering castle on the battlefield, and also attacking first is the many ideal case for ensuring soldier survivability.

Enhancing soldier survivability goes beyond simply focusing on boosting protection – those protective enhancements must be balanced versus their price in mobility and also lethality. More body armor is not always better. The load of human body armor need to be holistically balanced against its cost in mobility, situational awareness, and soldier performance.6


The Soldier’s heavy Load

Body armor is yet one aspect of a soldier’s heavy load. Soldiers have long carried heavy burdens right into war, however today’s soldiers carry an unmatched amount the weight. Because that the last 3,000 years, dismounted soldiers carried 55 to 60 pounds on average.7 This has nearly doubled in the last 200 years. Roman legionnaires carried virtually 60 pounds.8 The brother fighting in the American Revolutionary War brought 80 pounds. At the fight of Waterloo (1815), the British brought 60 come 70 pounds when the French carried 55 pounds. The French in the Crimean battle (1853-1856) brought 72 pounds. Around World war I, almost right march weights jumped to 85 pounds. U.S. Soldiers trained through at least 60 pounds yet carried added rations and munitions in combat.9 During human being War II, U.S. Troops carried more than 80 pounds in the Normandy landings.10 U.S. Soldier loads raised even an ext dramatically in the second fifty percent of the 20th century. March loads stayed at roughly 80 pounds during Vietnam but grew to 100 pounds afterward, through a best march load over 160 pounds in Grenada in 1983.11 In Iraq and Afghanistan, march weights have approximated 100 pounds or more.


*

Soldiers would certainly not carry all of the over equipment at once. Because that example, a soldier would not bring an M4 rifle and also an M249 Squad automatically Weapon.

(Source: J. Q. Zheng and also S. M. Walsh, “Materials, manufacturing, and enablers because that future soldier protection,” in Lightweight Ballistic Composites, 2nd ed., Woodhead Publishing, 2016.)

The boosted weight load lugged is not matched with an increased ability to assistance it. Access to reliable nutrition in the 18th and 19th centuries enhanced fitness outcomes and average heights. Americans had much better nutritional supplies, which produced Americans taller on typical than their European counterparts, yet growth prices slowed in the 1950s together the abundant U.S. Diet ended up being less nutritious, top to increased obesity.12 The U.S. Populace has since become the heaviest globally. The average American man aged 30 come 39 is just shy that being considered obese top top the human body Mass table of contents (BMI) scale.13 This trend has actually not been isolated come the civilian population. Enhancing numbers of servicemen and women space obese, including 6.7 percent that the combat populace in 2015, a far-ranging increase from roughly 1 percent in 2001.14 Although substantially lower 보다 the estimated 70 percent of the American populace that is obese, nearly 8 percent that the all at once force classifies as such.15 the the wider population, 31 percent of americans of a military period are also overweight to qualified for army service.16 Additionally, trends indicate today’s young guys are weaker 보다 previous generations17 together measured by grip strength, which has been displayed to be an effective assessing mechanism the strength and endurance.18 these trends indicate that organic physical renovations in the lot of weight that future soldiers can carry are unlikely.

Fighting load is composed of the equipment (weapon, ammunition, helmet, body armor, water, etc.) the soldiers bring directly top top their human while maneuvering and fighting.

Approach load consists of the fighting pack plus a rucksack lugged during a march, which would certainly contain additional water, ammunition, food, and other supplies for the term of the mission.19

The marine Corps consists of performance procedures in their pack definitions. Because that the tantamount of a “fighting load,” the typical infantry naval should “be maybe to command combat work indefinitely with minimal degradation in combat effectiveness.” The “approach load” tantamount should still enable a marine to march 20 miles in eight hrs “with the reasonable expectation of keeping 90 percent combat effectiveness.”20

The Harmful impact of heavy Loads

Today’s soldier is heavily burdened. A 2003 battlefield combat fill study discovered average fighting tons ranging by position from 53 pounds to 81 pounds.21 The average method march load was 102 pounds,22 regular with other average weights of around 90 pounds as soon as a rucksack is included.23 these weights, heavy as castle are, may be enhancing over time. A 2007 naval study revealed an average pack of 97 to 135 pounds in combat.24 A 2017 government Accountability Office report figured out Marine tons of 90 to 159 pounds, v an mean of 117 pounds, and also Army lots of 96 to 140 pounds, through an typical of 119 pounds.25

Heavy loads deserve to diminish both cognitive and also physical performance. Combat requires pressures prepared for engagements follow me both metrics; anything that diminishes the capacity to engage the opponent is suboptimal. Hefty weight to reduce tactical capability, specifically when an unified with fatigue and also the physical impacts of combat stress.26 army doctrine mirrors an understanding of the an adverse effect weight has actually on agility and also physical performance. Army field manual FM 21-18, Procedures and Techniques the Foot Marches, motivates soldiers to carry heavier tons in training 보다 combat in order to rise strength and also improve exercise on the battlefield.27 Further, it advises the each additional 10 pounds of weight lengthens obstacle course completion time through 10-15 percent, and also every 10 pounds end a 40-pound threshold decreases distance marched over six hrs by 2 kilometers.28 FM 21-18 details the an eighthour march must cover 32 kilometers (almost 20 miles) in ~ 4 kilometers every hour.29 an unpublished military study displayed this is feasible with a 30-pound load, yet with a 70-pound load, marching progresses just 15 mile in eight hours. In ~ 110 pounds, troops move less than 10 miles in one eight-hour period,30 half the intended march rate. Similar tests present the distance traveled by a rifleman reduce 35 percent when carrying the current weight of 95 pounds contrasted to the 50-pound goal, shortening the street traveled in eight hrs from around 17 miles to 11 miles.31


Combat load carried by position. Data is indigenous 2003, however weight the armor has actually increased since then.

(Source: Task pressure Devil an unified Arms assessment Team (Devil CAAT), “The modern Warrior’s Combat Load: Dismounted work in Afghanistan, April-May 2003,” (U.S. Army Center for military Lessons Learned, 2003).)

While the military conducts constant human power studies, they room not provided to conclusively determine the impacts of hefty loads on operational performance. It is not feasible to perfectly simulate a combat environment and also the requisite stress throughout testing because that a totally realistic assessment. Nevertheless, result from military studies permit some conclusions. Heavier loads decrease stamina, strength, acceleration, and agility, and lengthen obstacle course completion times.32 Time to complete a 10-station obstacle food – consisting of agility and also balance tests, sprinting, stair and also ladder climbs, load carriage, and also crawling – increased by 15 percent as soon as carrying a 44.3-pound fill (relative come an unloaded construction wearing uniform alone) and also 41 percent as soon as carrying 79.3 pounds.33 Further, more weight requires greater caloric expenditure, causing exhaustion over time.34 These results have negative operational effects, as displayed in the enhanced time that takes to complete tasks and also quicker onset of fatigue.

Carrying heavy loads, and body armor specifics requires much more oxygen but decreases the capability to be breathing it. Once supporting 100 pounds, studies showed power output and overall oxygen intake decreased.35 The impact of greater loads increases non-linearly; the impact at about 100 pounds was greater than expected based upon lighter testing.36 Further, load from put on a backpack resulted in a “significant rise” in respiratory exhaustion measurements, which could limit excessive physical activity, according to a research in the newspaper of applied Biomechanics.37 Similarly, a study published in Aviation, Space, and also Environmental Medicine uncovered that load on the body, including body armor, deserve to “ respiratory tract muscle duty and respiratory tract muscle work.” as breathing i do not care harder, fatigue is an ext likely, and exercise tolerance is limited.38 While heavy weight has disproportionate respiratory tract consequences, these impacts are not exclusive to big loads. In one more study through weights listed below 35 pounds, human body armor specifically caused reduced pulmonary function.39 few of the negative effects can be addressed through training respiratory muscles. Studies have shown much better low-intensity task and high-intensity power times as result of improved inspiratory muscle strength after working out with a 55-pound backpack.40


Data indigenous 2006, U.S. Army.

(Source: federal government Accountability Office, “Personal security Equipment,” GAO-17-431, might 2017, 9.)

Strength and also exertion are also negatively influenced by hefty weight. Research studies have presented reductions in the strength exerted and stamina with also a 55-pound load.42 load decreases acceleration under even a usual 50-pound load, less than many servicemembers stay in combat. In studies, 30-meter sprint time increased, but most that the increase was in the early 5 meters whereby acceleration occurs.43 there is likewise an effect on agility in unanticipated movements.44 A report in the Military medicine journal defined that when wearing human body armor:

men performed 61% under pull-ups and also women"s cave time was reduced by 63%; stairway stepping was decreased by 16% because that both men and women. significantly influenced the physical occupational capacity of militarily relevant tasks … The potential for physical exhaustion is high and also performance the physical work is markedly impaired when wearing .45

Finally, situational awareness is degraded by heavy weight, hurting operational power by make soldiers more susceptible to gunfire and lengthening reaction times. Under simulated foe fire, heavy weight modestly slowed reaction times, raising exposure and reducing the ability to move easily away from foe contact. Increased susceptibility to foe fire to be demonstrated to be a function of the pack carried.46 The time required to determine and acquire a target enhanced under heavy loads from simply over 3 seconds to much more than 3.5 secs in some configurations, as accuracy decreased.47 Further, soldiers on a 20-kilometer march report increased fatigue under more heavier loads and also decreased alertness equivalent to the increased weight (assessed at 75 pounds, 105 pounds, and 135 pounds).48


Under more heavier loads, soldiers reach exhaustion faster, unless they relocate slower. (Source: military Field hands-on 21-18, Procedures and Techniques of Foot Marches, web page 5-5)


In addition to the instant harmful results of hefty load top top performance, supporting this weight for a lengthy period has actually deleterious effects. Data ~ above servicemember injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led researcher from the Naval health Research center to break up that too much loads may have exacerbated injuries.49 Soldiers together young as 25 have retired as result of degenerative arthritis from hefty loads.50 almost one-third of medical evacuations native the battlefields in Iraq and also Afghanistan from 2004 come 2007 were as result of spinal, connective tissue, or musculoskeletal injuries, twice those native combat injuries. This can limit servicemember careers, representing a ns in an useful institutional knowledge and force readiness. Native 2003 to 2009, the number of retired army soldiers through at the very least one musculoskeletal problem went up tenfold.51 (These problems already cost the room of Veterans work $500 million every year in handicap benefits, i m sorry is meant to grow.52) The hazard of injury as result of heavy loads likewise decreases the feasible talent pool.

Soldier lots today space so significant that in fact military researchers are hesitant to test soldier power under complete combat tons in clinical experiments for fear of causing injury. The research study cited above illustrates the effect of weight on aspects of physics performance, however there is a dearth of research study connecting this to measures of combat effectiveness. This lack of definitive military testing linking load and also combat effectiveness proceeds to provide the illusion the carrying heavy weight is cost-free, i beg your pardon perpetuates a lack of activity in solving the problem.


Under more heavier loads and in much more adverse terrain, soldiers move slower. (Source: army Field hand-operated 21-18, Procedures and Techniques of Foot Marches, page 5-5)


The an outcome is that soldiers regularly carry more into combat 보다 is necessary. In WWI, 10 times as many rounds that ammunition were lugged as were likely to it is in used. This ammunition quantity was not reduced after trucks and also aircraft enabled front heat resupply in WWII.53 countless of the deaths in ~ Omaha Beach were from drowning because of exceedingly heavy packs indigenous overestimating what can be carried.54 The army permits delivering up to 120 pounds for an “emergency method load” when resupply is not guaranteed yet stipulates that contact with the foe should it is in avoided under such heavily burdened conditions.55 follow to military doctrine, leaders should identify mission-specific loads based on risk analysis, however exceeding the maximum pack threatens mission failure.56 military FM 21-18 states:

The ability of a soldier to march and fight is directly related come his load. The best individual load limit can not be gone beyond as an infantry soldier will certainly not accomplish his mission. Soldiers fight irradiate with only the devices required because that the prompt mission. Castle receive extr weapon systems and materiel when required.

Of course, in practice, the borders specified in army doctrine – 48 pounds fighting load and also 72 pounds technique march pack – are consistently violated.

It’s tempting to think that technological improvements may lighten the soldier’s load, yet historical experience says the opposite. Military historian SLA Marshall remarked in 1950 that modern technology has no “decrease through a solitary pound the load the individual has actually to carry in war. The is still as heavily burdened together the soldier of 1000 year B.C.”57 Sixty year later, SLA Marshall’s observation remains just as true. An innovation has only given soldiers even much more to carry: night vision goggles, radios, laptops, advanced body armor, general practitioners devices, and also other equipment. Enhancements in materials technology have resulted in only marginal to reduce in armor weight, while keeping pace with security from emerging threats. Future enemy adaptation will likely require ongoing improvements in protection, i beg your pardon only rises weight.58 technological advances are not a silver- bullet. The decisive element of combat have to be protected: the soldier’s ability to maneuver and engage the enemy.59

Soldier distance as a duty of load Carried

Soldiers march less distance in the same time under enhanced weight. Problems are because that a soldier load of 171 pounds, go on dirt through a 1 percent grade, and also a work fill of 350 Kcal/hour.

(See endnote 41.)

Officially, military doctrine acknowledges the tradeoffs of hefty loads. FM 21-18 observes: “he primary consideration is not exactly how much a soldier can carry, but how much he can lug without impaired combat effectiveness – mentally or physically. The combat toughness of a unit can not be counted solely by the variety of soldiers yet must be counted through the number of willing and physically able soldiers.”60 together SLA Marshall argued, 5,000 rested, conditioned men will always defeat 15,000 fatigued men.61 military practice, however, often diverges native this aspiration, in Marshall’s time and today.

Recommended borders of load Carriage

The deleterious effects of load have actually been recognized and embodied in consistent weight load recommendations, yet these have not been heeded. Today’s combat load much exceeds recommended limits, which have consistently approximated one-third of body weight, or 50 pounds. Study as far back as the so late 1800s recommended a 48-pound limit.62 findings in the 1920s encourage a maximum of 40 come 45 pounds, arguing additional weight beyond one-third body weight would have actually disproportionate expenses to the weight added.63 initiatives in the interwar years between WWI and WWII target a load under 35 pounds.64 SLA Marshall propose a preferably training load of one-third human body weight, equating come 51 pounds, in 1950. He stipulated a lighter combat load, which the arbitrarily set as four-fifths of the training pack or around 40 pounds.65 In FM 21-18, the army sets the maximum fighting load at 48 pounds and also the maximum approach march pack (which has the fighting load) in ~ 72 pounds.66

A 2003 marine Corps pack study assessed existing recommendations, consisting of the army recommendation, its resource in the DoD architecture Criteria typical (MIL-STD-1472F), and deliberations with army scientists. These sources led the maritime Corps examine to recommend setup fighting and approach lots at 30 percent and 45 percent of human body weight, respectively.67 In 2003, the median male naval weighed 169 pounds, leading to a maximum fighting fill of 50.7 pounds (30 percent) and also approach load of 76.1 pounds (45 percent).68

Other sources also regularly point out the 50-pound number. The Naval research study Advisory Committee 2007 report recommended a 50-pound maximum attack load yet cited six marine duty positions through combat patrols exceeding the amount.69 A 2001 military study likewise recommended a 50-pound limit,70 and also General Eric Shinseki, as then-Army cook of Staff, set a preferably 50-pound combat fill goal through 2010.71



The remarkably regular standards space not adhered to by one of two people the military or the maritime Corps, and also the trend is not positive that this will certainly change. SLA Marshall reasoned the the continued heavy soldier load was due to a “general indifference” to the problem.72 the concludes by praising the need for mobility “most of all on the battlefield. Swift and agile movement, rapidity and assurance of thought room the true essentials.”73

There is a clear have to reconsider the deleterious impacts of excessive weight top top survivability. The load soldiers lug is unhealthy and unsustainable. It has actually operational after-effects due to the instant cognitive and physical power degradation. That inhibits suitable respiration, power, endurance, and mobility. The long-term consequences limit recruitment and shorten careers. Soldiers have actually only become more heavily burdened while war becomes much more technological. Thinking about ways to improve survivability beyond traditional armor put on the body will certainly be necessary to safeguard soldiers indigenous musculoskeletal injury and also improve battlefield performance. Over there are measures the army could take it in the near term, however, to adjust its equipment, doctrine, and policies to reduce the soldier’s load.

Optimizing Soldier Load and also Performance

Army and also Marine Corps doctrine acknowledges that delivering excess weight borders combat effectiveness. One trouble in reduce weight has actually been the studies generally tie fill to slow soldier movement, i m sorry is intuitive, but often do not take it the next step to link heavier loads to procedures of to work effectiveness, such together marksmanship, maneuver, or exposure to foe fire. In bespeak to truly optimize soldier load and performance, there must be a concerted initiative to understand and advertise the human performance implications of heavy loads. The military should undertake one authoritative examine to better assess the relationship between load and also combat effectiveness, building on present literature. This research should information the limitations and risks of extreme load. The results must be socialized transparent the military to notify leadership decisions around load configurations by mission requirements.

Military doctrine on load limits, changed if necessary based on the person performance assessment, should be implemented with the target to improve soldier combat preparedness by diminish the weight carried and adjusting come operational requirements. Component of this initiative should be assessing which gives soldiers truly require on the battlefield and also opportunities for resupply. The army should wear a thorough assessment of essential supplies and also the fidelity of timely resupply, and educate leader on the prestige of minimizing loads.

This means reducing tools carried, such together ammunition, to only that i m sorry is mission crucial and will certainly be fairly used. In addition, the physical operating setting should dictate load limits, as daunting terrain, such as mountains, boundaries the amount of load soldiers deserve to reasonably carry.74 Finally, the guidelines have to be understood and organizationally enforced on an individual level. Because that every pound of extr equipment fielded, a pound have to be removed.

This is principally a leadership and also training issue, but the difficulty is hard to resolve offered the heavy burden of every the equipment that is assumed to be necessary today. The historical recommendations to allow the finest agility, cognition, and stamina ~ above the battlefield, and also protect native injury, every approximate 50 pounds. The weight of protective body armor makes adding necessary equipment and still conference the load limit essentially impossible, i beg your pardon highlights the prominence of minimizing armor weight. Present torso body armor weighs approximately 32 pounds, leaving only 18 pounds for added equipment. An M4 carbine v optics weighs approximately 7 pounds, empty. A camelback v 100 ounces of water weighs nearly 7 pounds. Night vision devices, a hand grenade, and also one MRE add 3.5 much more pounds.75 That quantities to 17.5 pounds, and also this hypothetical soldier has actually no ammunition or helmet.



Body armor chin is modular, and in theory enables commanders to tailor the level of protection to to work needs, reducing weight to increase mobility together needed. Anecdotally, however, most commanders do not differ the elements used. The proper level of security depends on a range of conditions: the enemy threat, terrain, and mission, amongst other factors. Military doctrine teaches that commanders should take into account the mission, enemy, troops, terrain, and also time (METT-T) when planning operations. Because that example, wearing hefty body armor may not it is in operationally practical on a long-range multi-day patrol in such as mountain terrain, such together in Afghanistan. In practice, the decision of i m sorry protective level to wear is usually minimal to an elderly leaders. On-the-ground leaders are rarely clearly delegated the authority essential to change the level of defense to conditions on the ground, particularly at the agency level.

Army leaders room justifiably involved that that if they made a reasonable selection to balance the level of protection versus the tradeoff in additional weight and mobility and a soldier was injured or killed as a result, your decision would certainly be second-guessed by DoD superiors and also Congressional leadership. A recent RAND report top top lightening body armor noted, “leaders space understandably wake up to make the decision to range down danger requirements, lest they it is in blamed for a soldier fatality or injury due to projectile-armor overmatch.” The political after-effects of a lethal engagement when soldiers room not wearing available armor room high, and it is an ext politically expedient come simply have soldiers bring heavier armor.

This unfortunate situation harms soldiers in the long run. An too many risk-averse technique that does not allow commanders to readjust the protection level based on particular conditions ~ above the ground may hamper soldier mobility. U.S. Soldiers who room overmatched by adversary maneuver room at danger of making call on the enemy’s terms, a dangerous case that harms in its entirety soldier survivability.

This is no a technical or product problem yet rather is primarily a social and policy problem. Leaders do not have the clearly delegated authority and backing indigenous superiors, including DoD civilian and also Congressional leadership, to modify the level of protection to details METT-T conditions. The military should plainly delegate government to company-level commanders to modify the level of security as needed, based on the specific threat and also mission.

Optimizing body Armor style to Decrease weight

Near-term prospects for technological improvements that would fundamentally adjust the weight-mobility tradeoff space slim. Despite rapid gains throughout the mid-20th century in body armor, progression in much better materials has actually been incremental for the previous several decades. Indigenous the Persian Gulf war to the Afghanistan War, for example, armor areal thickness decreased by 24 percent, or about only a 2.4 percent development per year.76 Material renovations that have occurred since 2001 have been largely invested in far better protection, quite than reduced weight. Together a result, human body armor weight has actually increased considerably over the past 15 years.

Material improvements in Armor

Armor areal thickness (pounds every square foot) is shown for a continuous level of security over time. Improvements in body armor materials resulted in dramatic weight reductions throughout the latter half of the 20th century, yet only incremental gains in current years. Any type of future far-ranging reductions in body armor weight are likely to come from areas other than product improvements.

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(Source: based on data indigenous James Q. Zheng, PPE load Reduction Review, respectable 2016.)

Nevertheless, also given these restrictions in materials, there are a number of steps the army could take in the near term to reduce body armor weight and improve as whole soldier survivability there is no requiring fundamentally new material advances.

Today’s body armor equipment are likely over-designed in a number of areas, including unnecessary weight. There might be methods to minimize weight without reducing soldier survivability. Legacy military requirements for device design and also construction might make tough armor key over-engineered.77 A 2017 government Accountability Office report declared that follow to DoD officials:

lates might be over-designed and also heavier 보다 necessary, based on actual to work threats and also performance data built up in Iraq and also Afghanistan. According to research officials, updates would enable for load reductions without increasing the ballistic risk to personnel.78

According come the report, researchers may develop brand-new reduced-weight tough armor plates in budget year 2019, pending approval from Army an elderly leaders.79 Additionally, through optimizing needs to the individual soldier, the military could potentially alleviate the load of present body armor systems, also with current materials. Existing body armor come in a variety of sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, etc.) and, recently, in female-specific human body armor to conform to various body types of male and also female soldiers. Soldiers’ human body shapes and sizes vary to a lot larger degree than is captured with the currently obtainable sizes, however. Tailored human body armor that was particularly designed to fit separation, personal, instance soldiers could substantially improve area coverage and also potentially minimize weight. Tailored human body armor would get rid of unnecessary gaps where fragile parts of the torso space exposed and also eliminate excess human body armor that is too long or too wide for a soldier’s certain body type. Tailored human body armor would likewise reduce unnecessary bulk and increase soldier mobility and responsiveness in dynamic engagements.80

Tailored body armor would need a various model for manufacturing and also stockpiling human body armor. Depending on how uniquely body armor is tailored to every individual soldier, it might need to it is in manufactured based upon the measurements of that soldier as he or she beginning the force. Personally tailored body armor alternatives are obtainable for law enforcement, because that example. If tailored armor would require some extr cost, the feasibility the adopting this method at scale would depend greatly on the manufacturing model used. The army should command an evaluate of the feasibility the tailored body armor and also potential advantages in decreased weight, boosted area coverage, and improved mobility. This evaluate should incorporate an testimonial of manufacturing methods to minimize the expense of adopting personally tailored services at scale.