Reactions mixed to gunner’s safety suit
The CPE features a heavy face shield and protective neck collar. It fits over a soldier’s flak vest and is one of a number of methods the Army is experimenting with to reduce the threat of roadside bombs — the biggest killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Turret gunners with the Hanau, Germany-based 709th Military Police Battalion and the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 549th Military Police Company began testing the suits in January and commanders say that they’ve already proven their mettle.
Capt. Larry Bergeron, commander of the 549th, said the suits have probably saved the lives of three soldiers who were sprayed by shrapnel from exploding roadside bombs.
“One soldier’s visor stopped a piece of shrapnel that hit dead center,” said Bergeron, 31. “If he didn’t have that suit on the effects could have been catastrophic.”
The reviews aren’t all positive, though.
Like with all new bulky armor issued, not everyone is exactly thrilled about it:
Despite their protective qualities, the suits have earned mixed reviews from soldiers, who complain that the cooling systems frequently break down and that they “look goofy,” wearing the equipment. They say, too, that the extra layer of protection limits their mobility.
“I’m not a big fan of this thing,” said Spc. Michael Floyd, 19, of Lebanon, Ind. “It’s just really hot and hard to move around in. I do feel safer, but only in an explosion. I wouldn’t feel safer in a rollover or in small-arms fire.”
The gunner is probably far safer until the time comes to move. This is usually the case with armor. TANSTAAFL, and increased protection is paid for with decreased mobility.
Keep in mind that this is being tried on an experimental basis.
The CPE consists of the following:
+ Base jacket
+ Sleeves (left and right) with rigid composite inserts (forearm and bicep)
+ Blast plate assembly — chest and groin
+ Rear blast plate
+ Pants and integrated groin protector (IGP)
+ Removable explosive ordnance disposal collar
+ Optional neck/nape guard
+ Visor System worn with Personnel Armor System Ground Troops (PASGT) or Army Combat Helmet (ACH)
+ Hand Guards
See .pdf documents from PEO Soldier and Med-Eng for much more info.
Strategy Page also posted on this.