Kevlar Overcoats

      Up-armoring all trucks and and Hummers in Iraq because of roadside attacks has caused problems.  This costs a lot of money and wears out vehicles much faster.  It also reduces fuel efficiency and off-road mobility.  Moreover, when operating in non-threat areas, the armor cannot be removed.  In addition, when trucks are moved outside of Iraq for general purpose use, the weight of the armor will limit their service life, unless the Army spends money to remove it.  Finally, many studies show that light armor often increases the effectiveness of a high explosive charges by shattering them into deadly fragments.  For example, an RPG can penetrate an armored cab and blast its occupants with metal fragments from the truck's own armor.

      A better idea is a 40 lb. armored Kevlar long overcoat.  It would be similar to the Army's Ballistic Protective Blanket but with long sleeves a large hood that can fit over a helmet .  The Army has developed armored shorts which weigh 8 lbs. (right).  These are helpful, but provide limited protection and are hot and difficult to remove.  If a rocket or bomb sets fire to a truck, or a truck is under attack, soldiers need to escape quickly and this may prove difficult while wearing bulky armored vests and shorts.  In contrast, a loose fitting overcoat will be cooler and easily shed by a soldier if necessary.

      Kevlar overcoats are also good for troops riding in armored personnel carriers involved in an assault.  If their vehicle is hit, the overcoats will protect them from shrapnel and burns.  When they dismount to attack on foot, they leave behind these coats.  In defensive positions, they can use their coats as protection from artillery and mortar fragments.  Infantrymen hunkered down in a fighting hole and wearing Kevlar overcoats will be difficult to dislodge since most casualties are caused by fragments from grenades, mortars, artillery, and bombs.  The hood over their helmet also protects the head and neck from concussions and noise.  As enemy artillery and mortar fire lift and enemy infantrymen draw near, defenders may drop their hood or the entire overcoat to better employ their weapons.  

      Kevlar overcoats will not be standard infantry issue, and grunts will not wear them while moving about on foot.  In extreme heat, soldiers may hang them from truck doors or panels.  They can also serve as warm blankets when sleeping, or as bedding.  Soldiers may wear them at checkpoints where suicide bombers lurk, or when riding in thin-skin helicopters.  Kevlar overcoats will prove valuable on many occasions, like protecting soldiers from bombs and RPGs in Iraq.

                                   Carlton Meyer