British soldiers £16million body armour to bulky

#1
New body armour issued to British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is so bulky that many are forced to take it off to fire their weapons, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Soldiers cannot fit their assault rifles to their shoulders or look through the sights properly when wearing the kit.

The Ministry of Defence has spent £16million on the new Osprey Improved Combat Body Armour which is meant to improve the odds of surviving bullets or shrapnel.

It covers the front and back of the torso with wider and thicker ceramic plates than in previous armour vests.

But troops under fire have chosen to rip out the plate inserts and throw them away, judging that freedom to move and fire their weapon is more likely to save their lives than thicker armour.

Royal Marines serving in Afghanistan have given a scathing assessment of the new kit, claiming it put them at "greater risk" of becoming casualties.

Body armour has been a highly sensitive issue for the Ministry of Defence ever since tank commander Sgt Steve Roberts was shot dead in Iraq in 2003, days after being ordered to hand in his armour because there were not enough sets to go around.

The political fall-out from his death proved highly damaging, and the MoD has now spent some £16million sending 16,000 upgraded Osprey body armour sets to Afghanistan and Iraq for infantry troops, along with an even heavier "Kestrel" version with extra arm and neck armour for soldiers in the vulnerable "top cover" position on patrol vehicles.

Each set of Osprey armour costs around £1,000 - compared with just £167 for older sets which had smaller ceramic plates to protect the vital organs.

But after putting Osprey to the test in battle, many troops are quietly now ignoring orders to wear it.

One Marine told the Mail: "We've had situations where as soon as we've got into a contact [firefight with enemy], guys are pulling out the plates and throwing them away. That's what I did.

"It's hard to run for cover wearing Osprey. They're heavy, but more importantly they're so bulky you can't even bend down.

"Worst of all you can't fit your weapon to your shoulder. The front plate is so thick and in just the wrong place so the rifle butt slips off the edge, and you can't get your eye to the sight.

"So you've got an infantryman who can't hold his rifle correctly or aim properly.

"Who designed this thing? Someone behind a desk?

"They're clearly worried about casualties, which is fine, but it's as though someone who's never been on the ground has decided to push this stuff out to all the lads."

Holding the rifle butt firmly to the shoulder is vital for accurate marksmanship, troops claim.

Another Marine told the Mail: "I'd say this kit actually puts you at greater risk.

"There's more to protection than bigger and thicker armour.

"Contact drills are about moving fast and putting rounds down accurately on the enemy, not waddling along hoping the bullets bounce off you."

Marines also told how many have bought their own hand-held satellite navigation kits, which they believe are essential, as well as cold-weather gear to cope with plunging temperatures.

One serviceman said: "There are big bits of Afghanistan where maps are a waste of time. It's featureless desert.

"If you need to call in air strikes or artillery you need GPS. A few people get issued them but everyone with any command responsibility - even at a low level - knows they need a set, and lots of the guys have bought their own.

"When one of our Viking vehicles was shot up a few weeks back a bunch of Bergens [backpacks] were lost.

"We sent a list of the personal kit the guys had lost, and the MOD came back and were asking why anyone would need all this gear? They just don't get it."

Shadow Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said: "If the body armour given to our troops is making it harder or them to carry out combat duties then the MoD should review the equipment.

"Ministers need to carry this out immediately."

The MOD said it was up to commanders on the ground to assess which body armour their men should wear.

A spokesman said: "Osprey body armour was widely tested by soldiers in the Infantry Trials Development Unit.

"It offers superb protection and saves lives. Any issues about equipment should be reported through the chain of command."
Source: Daily Mail
 
#3
Holding the rifle butt firmly to the shoulder is vital for accurate marksmanship, troops claim.
Stating the obvious?

There was a post a few months ago, possibly in QMs about Osprey body armour being too cumbersome; but I can't find it at the moment.

Looks like the MoD can't do anything right at the moment. The quote of the MoD's reponse to a load of bergens being shot up is beggars belief though; surely they realise some kit will be "lost" due to operations??

I have spoken to people who preferred no body armour at all - or didn't "like" the ceramic plates, due to the reasons listed above. Perhaps some opinions? Surely at the moment mobility and armour is the same comprimise with individual soldiers as armoured vehicles etc?
I found my grouping and zero affected by kevlar, though my live experience was very limited - remedied by wedging rifle butt into webbing strap; but some people were really struggling.
 
#4
I got a briefing from one of the 3 PARA OCs at a DEC GM industry day a couple of weeks ago. He too was utterly scathing on Osprey and Kestral.

He said that the only people that did use it were those on veh crew weapons or roof guard positions as there they didn't move and the protection was worthwhile.

For the rest of his guys and anyone requiring to move under their own steam by foot, they weren't used as if you wore it for anything more than 20 mins, you cooked and became a heat casualty.

Not fit for purpose.
 
#5
I too am shocked at the statement about the lost kit.........
How the hell are the lads meant to operate if they cannot get kit replaced.
 
#6
"It offers superb protection and saves lives. Any issues about equipment should be reported through the chain of command."
I just got back from Camp Bastion, worked in the QMs, we put 35 separate issues up the chain of command, not 1 got past our Adj despite chats! with the QM.

When you do as your supposed to its still buried.
 
#7
"The MOD said it was up to commanders on the ground to assess which body armour their men should wear.

A spokesman said: "Osprey body armour was widely tested by soldiers in the Infantry Trials Development Unit.

"It offers superb protection and saves lives. Any issues about equipment should be reported through the chain of command." "

This is complete garbage. What MOD is doing is seeking to blame Commanders on the ground for any potential casualties, and the ITDU for approval of this kit for use in the current operations in Afhanistan and Iraq. What were the test parameters and circumstances? Did this kit get trialed with any operational units at all?

Why was it not tested earlier by troops in both theatres? After all they've been deployed there for a few years now. It's MOD's job to ensure the effectiveness of all kit for use in all theatres, and yet again it has failed.

As to 'it saves lives', oh really? Any practical examples of this - or is this just a pious hope?

And note the comment from Green Goddess about passing complaints up through the CoC. If this isn't working then it's probably best to do a Dannatt. Not good for the career path though...
 
#8
This body armour is absolutely s**t. You might as well have an EOD suit on. It was issued for top cover in Iraq at first which is allright till you have to de-bus and move about, Snatch comds and dvrs cant move at all when wearing it. It seems like its been rushed into service to keep media etc happy about kit for troops but the truth is its a liability, blokes opt for not wearing it knowing they can move and react quicker in a contact and they can also return accurate fire. This is one situation that needs resolving quickly because the first soldier to be killed who isnt wearing armour is going to open a whole new can of worms, life insurance claims etc. Who ever trialled it was either had super human strength and stamina or was on a static guard duty... think the old turtle shell body armour we got for gate guard in NI and thats the weight of it
 
#9
i disagree i think its a good bit of kit, and like everything in the army it takes a bit of getting used to. yes its heavier then the old stuff but your body quickly adapts, and you can get the rifle in the shoulder as ive done it efficently enough to hit what i was aiming at. the only problem with it is the hinderence it gives you in the prone position, but even this is a workable problem.
this is a case of people with too much time on there hands over analysing stuff, and its allways marines who do the moaning .
 
#10
I met the bloke who designed it (and the MK6a helmet) at the firepower demo a few weeks back and he said he was surprised how big it was compared to his original design! Just goes to show that even the guy who designs it doesn't actually get the final say on what gets produced.

I may be over simplifying this, but why don't they just issue out the old style plates that fit inside the insert and give people an element of choice?

Apparently it'll stop a 7.62AP round though...
 
#11
BarSteward_III said:
i disagree i think its a good bit of kit, and like everything in the army it takes a bit of getting used to. yes its heavier then the old stuff but your body quickly adapts, and you can get the rifle in the shoulder as ive done it efficently enough to hit what i was aiming at. the only problem with it is the hinderence it gives you in the prone position, but even this is a workable problem.
this is a case of people with too much time on there hands over analysing stuff, and its allways marines who do the moaning .
Its not over analysing its about having the kit to do the job effectively and its not all moaning either. The new stuff weighs 30 odd pounds and when that is added to the weight of whats allready carried its about the lesser of two evils, do you sacrifice quick aggresive reaction to fire for a little bit of protection on your body. To carry out the contact drills taught on pre deployment training wearing normal CBA and then get the new stuff is a bit strange to say the least, Im not saying that it wont save lives just that different situations demand different items of kit and being able to react quickly and being able to move freely will save lives. Plus the degradation on the body when wearing this is very high so whats the answer? carry even more water which means more weight.
 
#12
Serving troops will have to decide if they have been sold a Pup or not on the New Body Armour.
But
"When one of our Viking vehicles was shot up a few weeks back a bunch of Bergens [backpacks] were lost.
"We sent a list of the personal kit the guys had lost, and the MOD came back and were asking why anyone would need all this gear?"

Sounds a bit like the battle with the Zulus where the QMs staff reputedly couldn't open the ammunition boxes fast enough without perment damage to the 'Accountable' boxes and of course Tom paid the price.
john
Yes I can't spell Isandaewalla, but it was the one, a day before Rorkes Drift.
And in my day kit lost in action was not accountable. Must have been the Atlantic Conveyor sinking from being 'Overloaded' that changed the Ministries view.
 
#13
jonwilly said:
Serving troops will have to decide if they have been sold a Pup or not on the New Body Armour.
But
"When one of our Viking vehicles was shot up a few weeks back a bunch of Bergens [backpacks] were lost.
"We sent a list of the personal kit the guys had lost, and the MOD came back and were asking why anyone would need all this gear?"

Sounds a bit like the battle with the Zulus where the QMs staff reputedly couldn't open the ammunition boxes fast enough without perment damage to the 'Accountable' boxes and of course Tom paid the price.
john
Yes I can't spell Isandaewalla, but it was the one, a day before Rorkes Drift.
And in my day kit lost in action was not accountable. Must have been the Atlantic Conveyor sinking from being 'Overloaded' that changed the Ministries view.
Apparently a myth; the only key for opening them had been taken off by someone who had left the main group and there was only one screwdriver that was suitable or something.

Still, disgrace that the MoD sit there with such obvious disdain/ignorance to what is going on on ground
 
#14
the Mk 6 helmet can and has stopped 7.62mm rounds as a young Pvt from 2LI will testify. As for the new body armour, it is heavier than the old stuff obviously but no harder to "get the rifle in the shoulder". IMO. has anyone seen the video of the american soldier who got snipered in the chest. Justifies it, no matter what the discomfort me thinks.
 
#15
Whats a Pvt?
 
#16
Malteser said:
New body armour issued to British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is so bulky that many are forced to take it off to fire their weapons, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Another monumental Balls up by the MOD!-Can't those cretins at Whitehall even get this right?-How can they issue body armour that is so bulky you can't even shoulder your weapon or move properly?-What idiot approved its use?(He ought to be made to go to Afghanistan and run around wearing it outside Camp Bastion,that might make the incompetent moron change his tune and order something decent for our troops!)

See my blogspot- http://www.the-chosen-man.blogspot.com/
 
#17
Scipiouk said:
Malteser said:
New body armour issued to British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is so bulky that many are forced to take it off to fire their weapons, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Another monumental Balls up by the MOD!-Can't those cretins at Whitehall even get this right?-How can they issue body armour that is so bulky you can't even shoulder your weapon or move properly?-What idiot approved its use?(He ought to be made to go to Afghanistan and run around wearing it outside Camp Bastion,that might make the incompetent moron change his tune and order something decent for our troops!)

See my blogspot- http://www.the-chosen-man.blogspot.com/
Seen it. Nothing to do with the subject being discussed. You're a bit of an arse, aren't you :roll:
 
#18
crabby said:
jonwilly said:
Serving troops will have to decide if they have been sold a Pup or not on the New Body Armour.
But
"When one of our Viking vehicles was shot up a few weeks back a bunch of Bergens [backpacks] were lost.
"We sent a list of the personal kit the guys had lost, and the MOD came back and were asking why anyone would need all this gear?"

Sounds a bit like the battle with the Zulus where the QMs staff reputedly couldn't open the ammunition boxes fast enough without perment damage to the 'Accountable' boxes and of course Tom paid the price.
john
Yes I can't spell Isandaewalla, but it was the one, a day before Rorkes Drift.
And in my day kit lost in action was not accountable. Must have been the Atlantic Conveyor sinking from being 'Overloaded' that changed the Ministries view.
Apparently a myth; the only key for opening them had been taken off by someone who had left the main group and there was only one screwdriver that was suitable or something.

Still, disgrace that the MoD sit there with such obvious disdain/ignorance to what is going on on ground
I've seen one.

There's no lock, but the lid looked difficult to prise off. You could still smash it with a rifle butt though, so willy looks nearer the mark.
 
#19
Invictus_88 said:
crabby said:
jonwilly said:
Serving troops will have to decide if they have been sold a Pup or not on the New Body Armour.

Sounds a bit like the battle with the Zulus where the QMs staff reputedly couldn't open the ammunition boxes fast enough without perment damage to the 'Accountable' boxes and of course Tom paid the price.
john
Yes I can't spell Isandaewalla, but it was the one, a day before Rorkes Drift.
Apparently a myth; the only key for opening them had been taken off by someone who had left the main group and there was only one screwdriver that was suitable or something.
I've seen one.

There's no lock, but the lid looked difficult to prise off. You could still smash it with a rifle butt though, so willy looks nearer the mark.
The Ammo boxes used at Isandhlwana were heavy wooden with 3 planks across the top crossed with 2 either side. They were screwed into the main body. At the time of the battle soldiers had 50/60 rounds in their pouches, all other ammo was in the boxes which was on the Q wagon as the camp was being gradually dismantled and prearing to move. The usual queue for issuing started when the battle started but the Q staff had insufficient screwdrivers to open the boxes. Some tried to use their bayonets to open but the ends were too thick. Finally, as suggested in an earlier post, soldiers used rifle boots to break the lids open to get at the ammo. Unfortunately by this time it was too late. :roll:
 
#20
intli said:
Invictus_88 said:
crabby said:
jonwilly said:
Serving troops will have to decide if they have been sold a Pup or not on the New Body Armour.

Sounds a bit like the battle with the Zulus where the QMs staff reputedly couldn't open the ammunition boxes fast enough without perment damage to the 'Accountable' boxes and of course Tom paid the price.
john
Yes I can't spell Isandaewalla, but it was the one, a day before Rorkes Drift.
Apparently a myth; the only key for opening them had been taken off by someone who had left the main group and there was only one screwdriver that was suitable or something.
I've seen one.

There's no lock, but the lid looked difficult to prise off. You could still smash it with a rifle butt though, so willy looks nearer the mark.
The Ammo boxes used at Isandhlwana were heavy wooden with 3 planks across the top crossed with 2 either side. They were screwed into the main body. At the time of the battle soldiers had 50/60 rounds in their pouches, all other ammo was in the boxes which was on the Q wagon as the camp was being gradually dismantled and prearing to move. The usual queue for issuing started when the battle started but the Q staff had insufficient screwdrivers to open the boxes. Some tried to use their bayonets to open but the ends were too thick. Finally, as suggested in an earlier post, soldiers used rifle boots to break the lids open to get at the ammo. Unfortunately by this time it was too late. :roll:
More recent research (shown in a History Channel documentary?) has unravelled this myth a bit: the standard wooden ammo crate (plenty of specimens still exist) had a sliding lid held by dovetails and a single large screw. The screw & lid was easily bashed away with a rifle butt, producing a characteristic bent screw. Metal detector surveys of the battlefield turned up many of these bent screws along the various firing lines - indicating that the ammo was widely distributed in quantity, even if the troops hadn't had time to use it. The surveys also showed that the initial firing lines - revealed by quantities of spent MH cases - were quite far forward of the main camp and somewhat strung out. It seems to indicate that the "stand-to" positions perhaps hadn't been adjusted after more than half of the manpower had left with Lord Chelmsford, and that the remaining soldiers were too thinly spread to bring effective firepower to bear in time to avoid being overrun.
 

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