Military Does Something Right:
Equipment Requirement Officers Required to Meet Requirements
Years of bitching and moaning about equipment has finally paid off for the Marine Corps today, as officers who set equipment requirements are themselves now required to perform in said gear.
We’ve all been there, during deployment or training, wearing a sometimes absurd amount of equipment, to the point where operational capability is hindered; helmets that can’t stay secured, so much additional armor that getting a proper cheek-to-stock weld is impossible, issued packs that sit in a way that it’s impossible to raise your arms, the list goes on and on.
Granted, things such as requiring additional personal armor components are usually done with good intentions, but often fall short in real life application. Consider the differences in standard load-out between “regular Army” soldiers and an ODA team currently deployed; conventional units are mandated by either Army-wide directives or unit initiative to wear special groin protecting underwear, the IOTV had attachments for deltoid protection (good for turret gunners, bad for a stack team), some units mandate the wear of standard issue knee and elbow pads, gloves, neck collar attachments for the IOTV, any number of ridiculous supplementary components for helmet systems; an ODA team on the other hand will have a plate carrier and a helmet, and possibly Crye gear with integrated knee and elbow pads. Granted, the ODA guys are “special” but that doesn’t mean that their choices in protection should be, any regular infantryman requires a similar amount of mobility while conducting operations.
Last week at Marine Corps Base Quantico the officers who are responsible for setting requirements for equipment ran the obstacle course in currently fielded gear with the goal of understanding the load Marines currently carry into combat. Improved mobility standards are to be written for gear fielded in the future based off the experience of these officers.
The obstacle course was first designed in 2012 as part of the Marine Corps Load Assessment Program. The program itself was initially developed to attempt to lighten the combat load of Marines, who regularly carry more than 100 lbs of equipment on their person.
Obviously I’m not saying that we should do away with armor all together, what I am saying is that the plate carrier is a much better alternative to the IOTV or Interceptor body armor system. The Army has realized it too, as it now issues plate carriers to troops headed to Iraq, although some units further mandate that all CONUS training be conducted in the IOTV upon redeployment, which is a problem within itself.
It’s a good sign that senior leadership is starting to think beyond the parameters of their offices and are attempting to understand some of the challenges faced by today’s warfighter.