Saturday, January 07, 2006

Armor All

Here's more evidence that the DoD's current budget and policy has its priorities all wrong.

The study last summer by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner looked at 93 fatal wounds from the start of the war in March 2003 through June 2005 and concluded that 74 of them were bullet or shrapnel wounds to shoulders or areas of the torso not protected by ceramic armor plating.

The findings underscore the difficulty facing the Army and Marine Corps in providing the optimum level of body armor protection in a war against an insurgency whose tactics are constantly changing. Both the Army and the Marine Corps have weighed the expected payoff in additional safety from extra armor against the measurable loss of combat effectiveness from too much armor.

Another example of why the lighter, faster mentality of Rumsfeld that brought us an undermanned invasion force in Iraq, an overreliance on the easily-destroyed Humvee, and the ineffective Striker vehicle is continuing to be a disaster. It may not be possible to armor our soldiers better with existing technologies without rendering them into medieval-looking footsoldiers lumbering around covered completely in metal. Who knows. Whatever the case though, I have some free advice to give to DoD.

As the President is currently proposing $7.8 billion dollars be spent this fiscal year on Missile Defense, which still shows no possibility of working, as well as various other adventures including Virginia-class submarines and the F-22A Raptor. Lord knows how much more money funnels through the NSF and other such bodies into researching more of these space-age planes and nuclear submarines, but you can get an inkling of them here. How about some reprogramming of this funding that goes into super high-tech boats and planes into researching better armor? I'm sure we could get a lot closer to lighter, better armor if we invested even 2 or 3 billion dollars more into researching such things, let alone amounts of money the size of these other weapons programs. The sad fact is that more of the U.S.'s operations will continue to be infantry operations abroad. It may be fun to buy and develop enormous high tech vehicles but the boots on the ground are the ones receiving all the punishment and use in the GWOT/GSAVE. It's about time DoD started realizing it, and reprogrammed the kind of funds into developing the kind of super high tech tools they need.