Recently I've observed a proliferation of personally procured plate carriers in my unit motivated by the disparity between the RFI issued SPCS/Gen.4 IOTV and CIF issued IOTV Gen1/2/3.  Lots of dudes (and leaders) are going out and buying plate carriers ranging from JPCs to ADS, LBT, Condor, airsoft, and everything in between.  This is in violation of division policy to wear only issued body armor.

Now, personally I am all for Soldiers having the equipment they need.  They shouldn't have to buy it themselves, but sometimes that's inevitable.  However where I take issue is that people are buying plate carriers with no soft armor backers at all.

I'm given to understand that our ESAPIs are rated ICW and cannot provide their stated ballistic performance without it.  Is this actually the case, or just a vestige of old thinking from the days of turtle warfare?  I've searched this forum (and the internet in general) for a direct answer to this question, but I haven't found a direct answer.

Is there a memo, a study, or any sort of actual evidence to back up whichever is the case? I've been meaning to approach my command about the issue but can't do so with nothing to go on but "this dude on an internet forum said X."  Personally I think people should be allowed to buy and wear their own gear provided they wear it correctly (meaning soft armor and overall quality of construction) but I think this increasing use of low quality body armor is putting my Soldiers' lives at risk.

Original Post

Unfortunately, the SME on Army armor systems seems to no longer be here by the name I remember him using. 

My recollection is that the system is ICW and specific to those plates / backers. However, I left the NG in '10. 

There are several threads here on the issue but none are citing a specific source. 

This would be the entity to contact for definitive information:

http://www.peosoldier.army.mil/programs/pmspie/

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.

Even with an IOTV  with proper soft armor and plates it feels like getting hit in the chest with a fucking hammer. 

Without the proper soft armor panels to help absorb and dissipate the energy you can have enough deformation to still cause  MAJOR injury or death due to organ compression and / or organ rupture.

Additionally without the soft armor, if the jacket of the round separates during impact with the plate, it can also cause extreme damage as it shatters / splatters and doesn't "find" soft armor to slow it down / capture it.

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. 

IF the COC and the S4 are on the same sheet of music, they can write an ONS to justify it and BUY the proper plate carriers and backers with GOV funds. 

Don't even get me started on the Condor / Airsoft / Rainey gear.....

------------------------------------- "A True Warrior knows neither Left or Right"  Looking for a doc who can fix my allergies.. Stupid People and IED's...

Erick posted:

 

This would be the entity to contact for definitive information:

http://www.peosoldier.army.mil/programs/pmspie/

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

<facepalm>

I hope that no one ends up dead or maimed due to this.

The knee jerk reaction by DOD would take us back to the "bad days" for gear... "if you didnt sign for it you aint using it" and "if its not in the SOP you ain't wearing it, and if it is in the SOP you will only wear it where the SOP says and in the manner dictated.."

------------------------------------- "A True Warrior knows neither Left or Right"  Looking for a doc who can fix my allergies.. Stupid People and IED's...

I asked this same question not long ago and DOCGKR gave some good information.  In my opinion soft armor backers need to be worn with issued SAPI/ESAPI.  It's cheap insurance, and weighs next to nothing.

As far as people wearing their own kit, specifically airsoft garbage, the only thing cheaper than one troop, is two troops.  I have never understood the desire to go cheap on a platform that is designed to be fought from and ultimately save your life.   The AF has had a big prpblem with this as of late as well, specifically in Security Forces.  The newer SF Airmen want to lose the IOTV and look like operators, but really have no idea of the "why" behind their kit.  Most of those that go purchase their own get Condor, Rothco, TMC, etc.  All absolute shit, and not worthy of a training environment, let alone a combat zone.  I have been running our Training Section for around a year, and I've been able to get through to a number of people during our proficiency firing.  I've been able to get my hands on excess sets of old, and damaged plates and twice a year I demonstrate the effects of at least our 9mm, 5.56, and 7.62, so people can understand the significant backface deformation and the need for soft armor protection behind the plates.

As far as COTS gear goes, I have pitched the idea up to Big AF to authorize, in writing, specific carrier/armor combinations that can be used for duty/combat use.  Similar to the way a PD will have a list of authorized duty handguns that have been evaluated for duty use.  I don't think it would take much work on a unit's part as most of the COTS PCs that are out there have already been evaluated for duty use, and are in service with a military unit somewhere already.  For example, the LBT 6094, Mayflower APC, Crye JPC/AVS, etc.  It would allow for more felxibility to meet unit/mission objectives, especially for a career field as diverse as Security Forces.  Some units need heavy loadout for nuclear security, while others do airborne fly away security, and even more doing basic law enforcement, and static security.  A "one size fits all" solution doesn't work.  So, what i proposed, was to create the authorized list, and allow the troops to purchase their own PC/soft armor combination to be used with issued ESAPI/XSAPI plates and allow for the flexibility in mission sets, mobility, preference, agility, etc.  Maybe too lofty a goal, but I think it is easily doable.

I can't begin to understand why guys don't want to wear the soft armor backers, especially when downrange.  I understand it redeces weight, but it is negligible in my opinion.  

LOCATION: El Paso

Armor is (and always will be) a constant balancing act between protection and mobility and comfort.

Of course people want to shed unnecessary heat and weight.  Those in positions where they're not actually getting shot at (FOBBITs) have already done that risk v. consequences math.  If you're in a unit where guys are constantly taking small arms hits and purples are typically going to wear GI gear.  

Note in the .pdf reference above that USSOCOM has a minimum required level of protection, vice a different performance standard.

Those who know they're not even going to hear a small arms shot during their tour (let alone actually see one splash around them) will buy an operator-ish Condorsofterwhispylight rig to style around in between the APO and DFAC.  Backface deformation is nowhere in their stream of consciousness.

...and oh, if they see JSOTF troops or Rangers walking around, everyone wants the latest (even better in a non-standard color), just to poke at the First Sergeant or CSM).

Sinister posted:

Of course people want to shed unnecessary heat and weight.  Those in positions where they're not actually getting shot at (FOBBITs) have already done that risk v. consequences math.  If you're in a unit where guys are constantly taking small arms hits and purples are typically going to wear GI gear.  

Tbh I couldn't care less if our S1 clerks want to remove their soft armor.  The problems I'm observing are with 11B's in a light Infantry unit.  We're slated for a combat deployment at which point presumably people will start using RFI instead but even so I think it's a problem. 

Much of the standardization is on the commander who has to underwrite the risk to his people.  In conventional units, the easy button is simply-wear the issued stuff.

@EBSILON, if you're in the lone remaining BCT in Clarksville who has not yet done their CTC rotation, note that JRTC requires issued armor and only issued armor for anyone downrange during livefire.

 

Peace has always been the realm of mediocrities, and pacifism the bleating of a herd of sheep which allow themselves to be led to the slaughterhouse without defending themselves . -Larteguy The Centurions

In addition to the above DoD document, I would like to bring the XSAPI Purchase Description to the table. It further demonstrates @Ebsilon's description of the A, B, C, D threat description system with threats E, X, and Y. I believe due to identical velocity that threat X is M993 and threat Y is M995, but I very well could be wrong.

https://ciehub.info/spec/PD/FQ-PD-07-03D.pdf

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