Fighting Light.. what is the problem?

chimera

LE
Moderator
Seems like us useless old and bold BAOR types, might have been onto something, what with our belt order/fighting order rigs.
Although, of course, when us useless old and bold BAOR types moved from ACTIVE EDGE exercises and went on Op BANNER we all put on Flak Jackets or INIBA or whatever it was called on the day, and were festooned with ECM kit etc.
 
I am not contesting that this is an age old problem..

What seems to have happened of late is that the whole issue has been much more strongly enforced, with no option to make a command decision!

It may be (... and I sincerely hope so!) that this is coming from the Civil Service bit of MOD rather than the Military. I can just imagine the advice coming from the PUS to the Minister.. "That is a very brave decision Minister!" etc..

Keeps coming back to the loss of Crown Immunity!
You wildly over-estimate the power of the CS in a scenario like this.

It is serried rows of military - specifically Army SNCOs, WO and Officers - who own the unwillingness to take risk over body armour policy.

The other option is that those Officers, WOs and SNCOs are so useless at providing advice they are not listened too.
 

japseyewarrior

War Hero
1. We wanted an SH insert to somewhere near Ghazni Street. Declined because it was “too hot”, despite no activity there for ages. OA did an overlay of kinetic events (IED, contacts, reported fire against aircraft) which showed that there was much less “heat” at the selected site than HLSs they flew into on a routine basis. Clear evidence that there was no more or less risk there than anywhere else. Answer? Still no. Stats meant nothing compared to the collective memory of a hairy landing several months before.
You just gave me De Ja Vu.

Had exactly the same sort of conversation at JAG when planning for a HAF into an area that hadn't seen ISAF for quite a while. We gave them our NAI/TAI overlay..."best we can do is 1500m away (or there abouts, can't remember the exact distance)" and produced a "frying pan" planning tool, centered on the target compounds with the "handle" extending out along the approach direction for the descent to the LP.

It meant we were dropped off even earlier, before dawn, so we could use the cover of darkness to get off the Dashte, completely ruining the element of surprise.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Do we carry too much? Of course. Will there be the will to allow localised decision making based on analysis? Not as long as the Sun et all will show weeping parents because “the army let my boy/girl die, they could have protected them”.
Having been one of those OA types (in Iraq, not Afghanistan) we couldn't even get to take the plates out of our ECBA (which with helmet, was to be kept within arm's reach at all times)

The point was that the small ECBA plates were for ballistic protection against rifle/MG fire; if we took them out, we were at no more risk, but improved the chances of body armour being close to hand if we came under rocket fire (barely happened to me, but was a serious issue a year or two later) because not everyone was 6' 2" with the body of a God like me (okay, the god is the elder Buddha, but...) and the heavier the gear was, the greater the tendency for people to leave it behind.

Nobody challenged our case: it was simply that if we weren't hauling the kit that would be our fault, while if someone died or was badly hurt - and they didn't have the Magic Protective Plates in their ECBA - then that would look bad for our employers so they preferred to heap weight on us and make hauling it be our problem.

With hindsight we should have kept quiet and just done it, leaving the ECBA plates next to the S10 respirator back in the Corimecs as "available if needed, but not required at a moment's notice". (Probably the only reason we weren't meant to be hauling S10s everywhere too was that nobody else was...) But, having mentioned it and been told "no, you can't", head office took an interest in making sure we didn't,...
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Saw this response to a historical question today, from a Vietnam veteran re the effectiveness of the old style flak jacket ( which I think we copied for use on Op Banner around the same time, late 1960's/early 70s )....For historic interest, but germane to what's happening in UKR at the moment. That trade off between

' Its too hot to wear '

versus

' Mine saved my life'

anyway, FWIW:



Question - ' What were the flak vests like? How effective were they really? '
https://www.quora.com/What-were-the-flak-vests-like-How-effective-were-they-really
1655901699992.png

ANS: As army tankers in the 11th. Armored Cavalry, we wore the M69 flak vest, or at least those of us who wanted to wear a vest. One wasn’t ordered to wear one. It weighed only eight pounds and was made of several layers of a thick, tough nylon fabric. It was mostly for fragmentation hits.
Most tankers in Vietnam were wounded or died from fragments from mortars, RPGs and small arms fire than by anti tank rounds actually penetrating the tank armor. We ourselves had no tank on tank combat but we sure had plenty of RPGs, mortars, stick grenades, and small arms fired at us, not to mention buried mines.
I wore my vest either over my undershirt or on my bare back as it was hot as hell in those M48A3s. But I figured if I had to bail out or I was poking out of my hatch , I wanted some protection.
As driver, I would have to dismount and check the tracks, road wheels and sprockets for wood pieces from jungle busting. Wood chunks could dislodge and throw the track or bind up in the wheels. So I was out of the tank at times working on the tracks and I felt safer with my vest and tin pot on. Whenever I dismounted the tank I would take off my CVC helmet and slap on my tin pot which I usually hung on the hatch post.
One time, after a firefight, I dismounted to help a wounded man. As I reached him, a bullet hit the lower corner of my flak vest with such force, it spun me around and threw me to the ground. A sniper had been firing and a round from an M1891/30 rifle hit me or my vest anyway. It pierced the vest. I had one hell of a good guardian Angel that day and I’m glad he was awake.
I don’t think the 69 vest would actually stop a round at close range however, they did a good job of stopping shell blasts, rocket fragments, and slow speed bullets fired at a further range.
As tank driver going on convoy duty, running the road ops or thunder runs, I would lay old, worn broken zippered flak vests on the floor of the driving compartment in case we hit a mine. More peace of mind than anything else.
Talking with some Marines who wore their vests much more than the army, I found their vests to be a little heavier but made of nearly the same material though it was combined with fibreglass plates. Theirs were the older M55 vests, or at least the Marines I was talking to were wearing those.
So, mine had a bit of weight but I got used to it and I knew it would stop at least smaller fragments and lower powered rounds from weapons. But as I said, it was more peace of mind than anything else.
Below, US Army M69 flak vest or jacket.
 
Saw this response to a historical question today, from a Vietnam veteran re the effectiveness of the old style flak jacket ( which I think we copied for use on Op Banner around the same time, late 1960's/early 70s )....For historic interest, but germane to what's happening in UKR at the moment. That trade off between

' Its too hot to wear '

versus

' Mine saved my life'

anyway, FWIW:



Question - ' What were the flak vests like? How effective were they really? '
What were the flak vests like? How effective were they really?
View attachment 672175
ANS: As army tankers in the 11th. Armored Cavalry, we wore the M69 flak vest, or at least those of us who wanted to wear a vest. One wasn’t ordered to wear one. It weighed only eight pounds and was made of several layers of a thick, tough nylon fabric. It was mostly for fragmentation hits.
Most tankers in Vietnam were wounded or died from fragments from mortars, RPGs and small arms fire than by anti tank rounds actually penetrating the tank armor. We ourselves had no tank on tank combat but we sure had plenty of RPGs, mortars, stick grenades, and small arms fired at us, not to mention buried mines.
I wore my vest either over my undershirt or on my bare back as it was hot as hell in those M48A3s. But I figured if I had to bail out or I was poking out of my hatch , I wanted some protection.
As driver, I would have to dismount and check the tracks, road wheels and sprockets for wood pieces from jungle busting. Wood chunks could dislodge and throw the track or bind up in the wheels. So I was out of the tank at times working on the tracks and I felt safer with my vest and tin pot on. Whenever I dismounted the tank I would take off my CVC helmet and slap on my tin pot which I usually hung on the hatch post.
One time, after a firefight, I dismounted to help a wounded man. As I reached him, a bullet hit the lower corner of my flak vest with such force, it spun me around and threw me to the ground. A sniper had been firing and a round from an M1891/30 rifle hit me or my vest anyway. It pierced the vest. I had one hell of a good guardian Angel that day and I’m glad he was awake.
I don’t think the 69 vest would actually stop a round at close range however, they did a good job of stopping shell blasts, rocket fragments, and slow speed bullets fired at a further range.
As tank driver going on convoy duty, running the road ops or thunder runs, I would lay old, worn broken zippered flak vests on the floor of the driving compartment in case we hit a mine. More peace of mind than anything else.
Talking with some Marines who wore their vests much more than the army, I found their vests to be a little heavier but made of nearly the same material though it was combined with fibreglass plates. Theirs were the older M55 vests, or at least the Marines I was talking to were wearing those.
So, mine had a bit of weight but I got used to it and I knew it would stop at least smaller fragments and lower powered rounds from weapons. But as I said, it was more peace of mind than anything else.
Below, US Army M69 flak vest or jacket.
Apparently first used by B17 and B24 crews flying on missions over Germany, hence why they were called flak jackets.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
I went round a factory in Northampton that produced CBA back in 1991. ( Lightweight Body Armor)

They demo'd it on a test range using a 9mm Uzi clone smg.

No penetration noted - but the main sales rep (D-G) wasn't about to climb into it to let an overseas customer take a shot at him :)
 
It wasn’t just JOs, it was up to and including Bde Cdrs.

The problem was, no-one wanted to take responsibility for taking it off and a bloke dying.

Different war different time. Rhodesian , all Rhodesian ground forces had no body armour. Only Heli pilots and crew had that.

The Older Officers were all WW2 vintage. Many times there were questions asked and the answer was .

“Oh , you will be wanting body armour next”

But most on the ground , given the , far less risks from IEDs and other risks in the last 16 years of conflict did not want the extra weight.

71E70773-8643-4B2A-B594-B4B356ECA4D9.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Saw this response to a historical question today, from a Vietnam veteran re the effectiveness of the old style flak jacket ( which I think we copied for use on Op Banner around the same time, late 1960's/early 70s )....For historic interest, but germane to what's happening in UKR at the moment. That trade off between

' Its too hot to wear '

versus

' Mine saved my life'

anyway, FWIW:



Question - ' What were the flak vests like? How effective were they really? '
What were the flak vests like? How effective were they really?
View attachment 672175
ANS: As army tankers in the 11th. Armored Cavalry, we wore the M69 flak vest, or at least those of us who wanted to wear a vest. One wasn’t ordered to wear one. It weighed only eight pounds and was made of several layers of a thick, tough nylon fabric. It was mostly for fragmentation hits.
Most tankers in Vietnam were wounded or died from fragments from mortars, RPGs and small arms fire than by anti tank rounds actually penetrating the tank armor. We ourselves had no tank on tank combat but we sure had plenty of RPGs, mortars, stick grenades, and small arms fired at us, not to mention buried mines.
I wore my vest either over my undershirt or on my bare back as it was hot as hell in those M48A3s. But I figured if I had to bail out or I was poking out of my hatch , I wanted some protection.
As driver, I would have to dismount and check the tracks, road wheels and sprockets for wood pieces from jungle busting. Wood chunks could dislodge and throw the track or bind up in the wheels. So I was out of the tank at times working on the tracks and I felt safer with my vest and tin pot on. Whenever I dismounted the tank I would take off my CVC helmet and slap on my tin pot which I usually hung on the hatch post.
One time, after a firefight, I dismounted to help a wounded man. As I reached him, a bullet hit the lower corner of my flak vest with such force, it spun me around and threw me to the ground. A sniper had been firing and a round from an M1891/30 rifle hit me or my vest anyway. It pierced the vest. I had one hell of a good guardian Angel that day and I’m glad he was awake.
I don’t think the 69 vest would actually stop a round at close range however, they did a good job of stopping shell blasts, rocket fragments, and slow speed bullets fired at a further range.
As tank driver going on convoy duty, running the road ops or thunder runs, I would lay old, worn broken zippered flak vests on the floor of the driving compartment in case we hit a mine. More peace of mind than anything else.
Talking with some Marines who wore their vests much more than the army, I found their vests to be a little heavier but made of nearly the same material though it was combined with fibreglass plates. Theirs were the older M55 vests, or at least the Marines I was talking to were wearing those.
So, mine had a bit of weight but I got used to it and I knew it would stop at least smaller fragments and lower powered rounds from weapons. But as I said, it was more peace of mind than anything else.
Below, US Army M69 flak vest or jacket.
They were still being used early 80s I think or ones very similar.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
From my time on FIST I noted a dearth of uniformed officers in the relevant procurement branches who understood what the OA meant; put brutally the uniformed (ranging from Capt to 1* in my direct experience) were numerically uniformed (sorry, couldn't resist). The OA guys were highly numerate and (as SME) I got caught in the middle.

As countless books on behavioral economics have demonstrated most humans can't do probabilities, which are an inherent part of risk assessment (and much OA). Those who could grasp it tended to me more junior, and therefore of course had to defer to the opinion of their superiors.

There is also a vast discontinuity between what a mech infantryman can have immediately to hand (heavy stuff in battle taxi) and what a light role infantry bod can have. The army's predilection for the latter is unfortunate.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
From my time on FIST I noted a dearth of uniformed officers in the relevant procurement branches who understood what the OA meant; put brutally the uniformed (ranging from Capt to 1* in my direct experience) were numerically uniformed (sorry, couldn't resist). The OA guys were highly numerate and (as SME) I got caught in the middle.

I used to get this problem with defensive systems: an 85% probability of stopping a Bad Thing from hitting you, sounds great and arguing that we really needed it up in the high 90s, was a hard sell - isn't 85% "really good" already?

Since the probability was about right, and the consequence of being hit was "really bad", I found using the Mess Webley analogy - one revolver, one round loaded, one game of Russian Roulette, per incoming threat - really helped to clarify it.

Salvo of four incoming? Spin the cylinder, put the gun to your head, pull the trigger. Repeat three more times. Still think those odds are good enough? Put the extra bit of kit I'm arguing for on the ship, and now the odds for a salvo of four are better than "one gun, one bullet, one game". [1]

Describe it like that, and I got more buy-in for "okay, maybe that extra defensive layer you want is a good investment after all..." where trying to explain "four consecutive 85% probabilities of not getting hit, mean it's only fifty-fifty whether you survive..." just didn't seem to get traction.

[1] Let's not get into the Bayesian probability / Monty Hall Effect of whether you should, or shouldn't, spin the cylinder between each game, or we'll be here all week...
 
Out of interest, possibly deserving another thread, just suppose Falklands happened today as opposed to 40 years ago. Would we have soldiers refusing to move on the word MEN, guys creaming in after a mile or so and every single bloke broadcasting their position on "find my friends"? Think about TODAYS army / navy / twats and could we actually achieve it???
 
Out of interest, possibly deserving another thread, just suppose Falklands happened today as opposed to 40 years ago. Would we have soldiers refusing to move on the word MEN, guys creaming in after a mile or so and every single bloke broadcasting their position on "find my friends"? Think about TODAYS army / navy / twats and could we actually achieve it???
Yes. But we work quite hard not to have to.

Next question.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Describe it like that, and I got more buy-in for "okay, maybe that extra defensive layer you want is a good investment after all..." where trying to explain "four consecutive 85% probabilities of not getting hit, mean it's only fifty-fifty whether you survive..." just didn't seem to get traction.

And of course the best option, where possible, is not to get engaged in the first place, which often requires a level of mobility that the protection precludes.

Ajax and CVR(T) springs to mind
 
Without a shadow of a doubt my body armour saved my life. If the level 3 protection had been available I’d have probably saved myself the genital injuries as well.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Out of interest, possibly deserving another thread, just suppose Falklands happened today as opposed to 40 years ago. Would we have soldiers refusing to move on the word MEN, guys creaming in after a mile or so and every single bloke broadcasting their position on "find my friends"? Think about TODAYS army / navy / twats and could we actually achieve it???
I train with a recently left Para and I have to say I'd rather have him on-side than not. Physically, he is tough. I'd very much rather have him on-side in all respects. I'd very much not want to take him on, and that's not just because I've a few more miles on the clock.

It's easy with the distance of time to scoff (not that I'm suggesting that that's what you're doing, necessarily). It's easy to say that things have got easier.

In all honesty, I don't know the answer to your question. The Army at present has some real issues, as we discuss often on here. That doesn't mean that there aren't some units and individuals that are keenly competent.

I think that there are quite a few who'd give it a bloody good go. I strongly suspect that they'd succeed.
 
Different war different time. Rhodesian , all Rhodesian ground forces had no body armour. Only Heli pilots and crew had that.

The Older Officers were all WW2 vintage. Many times there were questions asked and the answer was .

“Oh , you will be wanting body armour next”

But most on the ground , given the , far less risks from IEDs and other risks in the last 16 years of conflict did not want the extra weight.

See copy of photo below.
The photo is of British Troops in the Radfan - 1964-67?
 
I went round a factory in Northampton that produced CBA back in 1991. ( Lightweight Body Armor)

They demo'd it on a test range using a 9mm Uzi clone smg.

No penetration noted - but the main sales rep (D-G) wasn't about to climb into it to let an overseas customer take a shot at him :)

When they were still in their country manor type location? Last time I saw them they were down to an industrial unit in Daventry somewhere.

I had an acquaintance who worked for Bristol Bodyarmour. During one sales trip to sandy parts the potential customers tried to get him to wear a vest and stand out front. They eventually compromised on getting some convicts in and offering them a pardon. He resigned shortly after his return from that trip.

I met Dick Kramer the artist who does lots of military and police artwork. He had just been to GIGN in France where they had shot him. It is a thing in GIGN at the end of the selection/training where all candidates wear a bulletproof vest and get shot at with a .38 revolver. The idea is that you are showing confidence in: Your training, your kit, and your unit members. Dick was apparently so taken with the idea he asked if he could have a go, so they obliged.

 
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