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Is Osprey Too Much Protection?

#1
I was going to put this in my daysack thread but I think it's deserving of it's own discussion. The USMC has issued a lighter weight Plate Carrier for operations in Afghanistan

essentially front and rear SAPI plates with a level III Cummerbund with the option of side plates.
Here's a link describing in greater detail:
http://defensetech.org/2008/08/22/corps-issues-smaller-lighter-body-armor/

Essentially giving the same hard (Rifle) protection with less soft coverage giving greater mobility and cooler protection than a full armour set such as Osprey.

I noticed that the USMC were wearing them in Sangin yesterday. I remember that for some operations Stuart Tootal allowed his Paratroopers to operate without armour.
Biiig decision time folks.
Views? **
 
#3
What does Osprey have that a plate carrier doesn't? Answer - soft armour protection.

What does soft armour protect against? Answer - blast and frag

What's the main threat in theatre?

Draw your own conclusions!
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#4
I remember that for some operations Stuart Tootal allowed his Paratroopers to operate without armour.
That could never happen today though, it's just too much risk. In the Reality of Herrick thread, I made a comment about a discussion we had with our OC, over having a group of guys, with no armour or helmets, that would act as a fast moving assault squad. Whilst the main body were suppressing with enemy fire, we'd flank round at high speed, sprinting, basicaly, and smash them whilst they were pinned. It would've been ideal, but whilst he was all up for it, you just can't do that sort of shit anymore.

The one huge problem to it, was that there was no way on gods green earth you could get away with having people without any armour or helmet on. Our OC would have lost his job, and every man of a rank below would have gone with him, if someone had been injured. The rules are so constraining now that the days of battlefield improv have died a death thanks to fears of litigation or ignorant families screaming about 'Why didn't our son have his body armour on?!' when the answer is simply 'Becuase your son Jimmy was a ******* nutcase and was more than happy to ditch it, run half a 'k and shoot some ******. Deal with it.'

However, Osprey does go over the top I feel. Yet it's all relevant. If the soft protection wont stop anything other than low velocity frag, is it worth it? Then again, what happens if you're fighting somewhere where there is a lot of frag going around?

Can't win. It's all swings and roundabouts. More is always better nowadays. Perhaps specific roles and units should be given ligther, more assault orientated kit, but then, would they be happy with that? Bleah.

I think they should give an option as to what you want to take, then if it turns out it's the wrong armour, it's your own fault.

"Right, I'm off of 'x Ops' today, so hitting a compound.. mm.. I'll take my assault vest.."
"Patrolling today, high threat area, going to be slow going... mmm... Osprey methinks."

You'd often come in and alter your equipment loadout depending on the mission, so an option of armours makes sense too and as it's individual choice, it's their own fault if they bring the wrong one. :)
 
#5
I remember the USMC were complaining about armour weight and design for longer mountain patrols, one of the reasons for the Eagle Plate Carrier.
Here's some more quotes, from the daysack thread. Many thanks to the posters!


*Originally Posted by Closet_Jibber*
So they're now having to adapt the design of Daysacks because Boddy armour is far too bulky for its purpose. First was webbing, then helmets, next will be bergans. Re inventing the wheel time and time again to get around the fact that the body armour is unfit for purpose.

Stonker:
Now I am interested:*

1. What is the purpose of the body armour, in your opinion (no more than 10 words please), and

2. In what way is it unfit ? (again no moe than 10 words per reason)

I'm not being pedantic, it is just that 20 yrs ago, I was very angry about INIBA, which weighed a ton, had the ergonomics of a cast-iron pot-belly stove, and (were it not for orders from above) I would have ditched it faster than I would have humped Linda Lusardi - but the IED threat we faced, even in S Armagh, was peanuts compared to AFG.

No good you bleating without you explaining.

What does the current armour NOT do, that it should?

Closet_Jibber:
No more than 10 words my arrse. Its purpose is not just to reduce the impact of bullets and bits of bomb.

It should and generally is to allow the wearer an increased level of protection against a threat whilst not massively decreasing his range of movement, and massively increasing fatigue.

I've bleated many times on ARRSE that the body armour is too heavy and too bulky for infanteers. I've seen lads refusing to adopt the prone position because they struggle to get back up. I've seen fit lads who can't run more than half a mile in the Osprey kit. Wear your Osprey and try and complete any assault course un-aided (We did this and the results were dire.)

As such we have lads moving slower, less able to do their job (Which is already physically demanding) and making themselves slow moving bulky targets who still despite the adapted kit can't properly get the weapon in the shoulder or comfortably get in the prone.

If its just about stopping bullets why aren't we wearing leg armour?
 
#6
Just out of interest, since I've brought up Plate Carrier vs Body Armour.
Has anyone got (m)any anecdotes of instances when the soft armour has saved your bacon?
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#7
The main reason we have Osprey, is it's to try and stop people dying. That's the brunt of it. It a nutshell.

So what we need, is a comparison chart showing those that have been killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and how they were killed, and those that were inured but not killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and where they were hit.

Every man jack that was injured or killed out us when we were there, would have been injured or killed with or without Opsrey, apart from one possible exception, where it may have lead to death if he wasn't wearing armour.

So is it actually saving people? We need to find out how many people have been hit in their armour and survived thanks to the plates being there. That's the facts we need.

However, there is the deception factor too. If you're seen running around without armour and helmet, you'll become target number one. So why not create a 'False Osprey'? It looks like Osprey, so does the helmet, but they're made of something stupidly light, which has no protective features.
That would be the option if you wanted your guys to ditch the armour. They still need to look like they're wearing something or they'll think he's an easy target.

It's another topic that was beaten to death whilst we were there, and no satisfying answers were reached. Or at least, none that would satisfy a grieving family or politician.
 

daywalker

LE
Kit Reviewer
#8
The use of body armour on ops should be down to the local commanders discretion, now im not saying that body armour should be binned altogether however there are times where ops dependent we should increase or decrease the amount of body armour worn.
 
#10
We know the plates work against direct fire. I'm more interested on how many people owe their health and good looks to the soft armour.
The USMC must have thought it was worthwhile.
Don't forget we had the Blackhawk plate carrier for a while. With a couple of additions that would have been a very good bit of kit.
 
#11
The main reason we have Osprey, is it's to try and stop people dying. That's the brunt of it. It a nutshell.

So what we need, is a comparison chart showing those that have been killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and how they were killed, and those that were inured but not killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and where they were hit.

Every man jack that was injured or killed out us when we were there, would have been injured or killed with or without Opsrey, apart from one possible exception, where it may have lead to death if he wasn't wearing armour.

So is it actually saving people? We need to find out how many people have been hit in their armour and survived thanks to the plates being there. That's the facts we need.

However, there is the deception factor too. If you're seen running around without armour and helmet, you'll become target number one. So why not create a 'False Osprey'? It looks like Osprey, so does the helmet, but they're made of something stupidly light, which has no protective features.
That would be the option if you wanted your guys to ditch the armour. They still need to look like they're wearing something or they'll think he's an easy target.

It's another topic that was beaten to death whilst we were there, and no satisfying answers were reached. Or at least, none that would satisfy a grieving family or politician.
This sort of analysis is being constantly done by DSTL: the body armour and helmet of every fatality and most injuries are examined by DSTL to determine wound patterns, trends, weaknesses etc. Obviously this is NOT a topic for open discussion but rest assured - the balance of effectiveness vs risk and load is under constant review. The soft armour does a lot more than stop frag; it also significantly attenuates blast as well and, along with the amazing medical care from point of wounding backwards, is why we have some many guys surviving with injuries that would have meant they'd be dead a few years ago.

You are absolutely right when you say it is an argument that will never go away - its very subjective and obviously depends upon role and task. There will always be occasions that prove the case one way or the other.

Boris's last point about the USMC is an interesting one. I was briefed by the USMC Programme Manager for their Plate Carrier. Their decision process was (and no word of a lie here):

"Oh look, Prince Harry's getting off the plane back from Afghanistan"
"Hey, what's that body armour he's wearing? Wow, that looks cool!"

Ok - I paraphrase but in all seriousness, it was seeing HRH getting off the plane with the Blackhawk Plate Carrier over his shoulder that made them buy their own. Scientific development? My ARRSE!

When they were then briefed on the statistics of injury from blast/frag vs GSW there was a very VERY big gulp when they realised what they were risking. I very strongly suspect we won't be seeing many of them cutting around Sangin wearing it - not for long anyway.

The Blackhawk carrier was issued for the RC South Battlegroup - who were the Reserve BG that were being tasked into all sorts of environments - not just Helmand - where the IED threat was low. Since that role has been withdrawn then so has the requirement.
 

daywalker

LE
Kit Reviewer
#12
But what about the number of people who have had their faces taken off by osprey plates whilst caught in IED blasts....

Does anyone know how often the plates in theatre get tested for fractures?
 
#13
"Oh look, Prince Harry's getting off the plane back from Afghanistan"
"Hey, what's that body armour he's wearing? Wow, that looks cool!"

Ok - I paraphrase but in all seriousness, it was seeing HRH getting off the plane with the Blackhawk Plate Carrier over his shoulder that made them buy their own. Scientific development? My ARRSE!
Scary, but in an awesome way. (If that's possible...)
 
#14
Good discussion, but don't forget there is a plenty of other mandatory FP equipment that adds considerably to a dismounted soldier's load in HERRICK.

If we replaced Bowman with Cougar or Harris and had commander's discretion on carrying the other kit, a soldier even in osprey and first line scales would be considerably more agile than he is at the moment.
 
#15
Boris's last point about the USMC is an interesting one. I was briefed by the USMC Programme Manager for their Plate Carrier. Their decision process was (and no word of a lie here):

"Oh look, Prince Harry's getting off the plane back from Afghanistan"
"Hey, what's that body armour he's wearing? Wow, that looks cool!"

When they were then briefed on the statistics of injury from blast/frag vs GSW there was a very VERY big gulp when they realised what they were risking. I very strongly suspect we won't be seeing many of them cutting around Sangin wearing it - not for long anyway.
*
Ah.
And I thought they were switched on.
Oh.
 
#16
i have worn a plate carrier with ospery plates in it and CBA underneath. Same weight but allows more you to move your body around and when your in a compound taking a break your plate carrier comes of and you still have some limited ballstic protection. think a modular approach is the way ahead, due to the fact tha lads in CVRT cannot get up and down i the turret due to osprey plate size and had a waiver to wear ECBA, but soon as they dismounted osparey had to go on.
 

AIRBORNEJOCK

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#17
This sort of analysis is being constantly done by DSTL: the body armour and helmet of every fatality and most injuries are examined by DSTL to determine wound patterns, trends, weaknesses etc. Obviously this is NOT a topic for open discussion but rest assured - the balance of effectiveness vs risk and load is under constant review. The soft armour does a lot more than stop frag; it also significantly attenuates blast as well and, along with the amazing medical care from point of wounding backwards, is why we have some many guys surviving with injuries that would have meant they'd be dead a few years ago.

You are absolutely right when you say it is an argument that will never go away - its very subjective and obviously depends upon role and task. There will always be occasions that prove the case one way or the other.

Boris's last point about the USMC is an interesting one. I was briefed by the USMC Programme Manager for their Plate Carrier. Their decision process was (and no word of a lie here):

"Oh look, Prince Harry's getting off the plane back from Afghanistan"
"Hey, what's that body armour he's wearing? Wow, that looks cool!"

Ok - I paraphrase but in all seriousness, it was seeing HRH getting off the plane with the Blackhawk Plate Carrier over his shoulder that made them buy their own. Scientific development? My ARRSE!

When they were then briefed on the statistics of injury from blast/frag vs GSW there was a very VERY big gulp when they realised what they were risking. I very strongly suspect we won't be seeing many of them cutting around Sangin wearing it - not for long anyway.

The Blackhawk carrier was issued for the RC South Battlegroup - who were the Reserve BG that were being tasked into all sorts of environments - not just Helmand - where the IED threat was low. Since that role has been withdrawn then so has the requirement.
You hit the nailon the head gear spotter when 3 PARA done ops in Helmand we initially got away with wearing PCs but soon had to wear our soft armour under them.
 

AIRBORNEJOCK

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#18
Good discussion, but don't forget there is a plenty of other mandatory FP equipment that adds considerably to a dismounted soldier's load in HERRICK.

If we replaced Bowman with Cougar or Harris and had commander's discretion on carrying the other kit, a soldier even in osprey and first line scales would be considerably more agile than he is at the moment.
To my knowledge BOWMAN is here to stay but there is going to be a smaller lighter commanders radio cant recall the name watch this space ill get it tomorrow.
 
#20
So what we need, is a comparison chart showing those that have been killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and how they were killed, and those that were inured but not killed whilst wearing Opsrey, and where they were hit.

Every man jack that was injured or killed out us when we were there, would have been injured or killed with or without Opsrey, apart from one possible exception, where it may have lead to death if he wasn't wearing armour.

So is it actually saving people? We need to find out how many people have been hit in their armour and survived thanks to the plates being there. That's the facts we need.
It would be hard to get an accurate chart, people who have been injured might have come off worse if they were not wearing armour, however if they were not wearing armour they might have been able to move faster and therefor avoid being injured at all. (Firefights more than IEDs)
 

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