This would be the entity to contact for definitive information:
I actually contacted PEO Soldier two months ago with this exact question and despite several emails asking for an update they've basically ignored my RFI after telling me they'd find an answer.
David Reeves posted:
The SAPI / ESAPI plates are most definitely an ICW system.
If they insist (and the COC allows) on wearing plate carriers, they MUST HAVE the appropriate soft armor panels as backers inside of their plate carrier.
If you've ever seen the backside of a plate hit by a PKM or Dragunov (7.62 x 54r) round, you will have no problem understanding this.
To find a definitive answer I actually read the DoD Testing Requirements for Body Armor Report No. D-2009-047 (https://ciehub.info/References...orts/fy09/09-047.pdf). Understandably not wanting to publish the actual effectiveness of our body armor, the report labels the threats as A, B, C and D. Since our armor is only rated for 7.62AP protection, I operated under the assumption that threat "D" was 7.62x54 or similar. If we assume that, ESAPIs can stop smaller caliber rounds (A, B, C) without significant BFD, but the full power rifle cartridge example (Threat D) causes BFD that must be caught by soft armor to prevent serious trauma to the wearer.
David Reeves posted:
SO... if your Joes want to play high-speed / no drag, they need to understand that there is much more to it than simple appearances.
Ultimately it is up to EACH AND EVERY LEADER to enforce the standard. The have that responsibility and requirement to the Soldiers and their families. .
While it's not really relevant to this discussion, I should point out that none of the Soldiers in my platoon use unauthorized armor (our PSG banned them). I've explained the issue of soft armor to NCOs in other platoons but they don't seem to care. I've tried to get them banned within my company but our CO takes the soft armor out of his issued kit himself and doesn't seem to understand its importance. I can cite my assumptions from the above studies all day, but unless I have a legitimate, credible source I can't exactly make a strong case to my leadership about why this is a problem based on nothing more than my understanding.
It's division policy here. I usually chafe at policies banning unauthorized bags and pouches and the like, but I snapped when I saw a dude wearing a large airsoft plate carrier of unknown branding (it wasn't even Condor quality) and wearing either small or medium plates in it. It was colossally fucked up and I tried to convince him to stop wearing it, then I spoke to his SL, but his SL wears his own kit too so he didn't see a reason to stop the Soldier. This shit all started when our BC bought himself a plate carrier since he didn't want to wear a CIF issue IOTV and now it's proliferated throughout the ranks to the point where Soldiers are wearing fucking airsoft kit. /rant