High Cost of Force Protection

Forwarded by a reader:

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  1. It looks like they simply displayed the dollar amount per soldier, and didn’t bother to adjust for inflation.

    For example, take the WWII soldier with the M1 Garand. Only $170 for his total kit, including rifle? Even with economies of scale that one gets with huge government contracts, how much would it take to equip someone today with all that stuff? A lot more than $170, that is for sure!

    The graphic above doesn’t convey any useful information. We know that equipping a soldier in past decades cost less in dollar amounts because everything cost less.

    I am also sure that better equipment, such as body armor and advanced sensors such as night vision devices, decrease casualties. But hasn’t battlefield medicine and medevac also done their part to decrease deaths? Helicopters weren’t even used in WWII to get the wounded to aid stations and MASH units. Wouldn’t the higher casualty rate during that conflict have a little something to do with the fact that they couldn’t move the injured to where they could get help as fast as they have since?

    I’m uncertain what the authors of this infographic are trying to convey.


  2. Part of the reason for the decrease in KIA to wounded is medevac choppers and nearby field hospitals. That part of the expense is not factored in. Neither is the cost of armored humvees and MRAPs. I agree with the first reply, not clear what the graphic’s point might be … but an interesting graphic none-the-less. Equipment and weight has changed for combat troops.

  3. James,
    It seems to suggest that there is a relationship between the $$ spent on equipment per soldier to the ratio of killed to wounded. I don’t think it’s successful, but that seems to be where it’s trying to go.

    Maybe it has something to do with the “tan combat boots” of the soldier in the 3d graphic, vs the mere “combat boots” in the prior graphic.

  4. Well, obviously Mr. Rummel and Geek are right about the issues they pointed out. I think that even more than the gear or medevacs, you have to point to the training that our soldiers are getting. When all the soldiers are trained as combat lifesavers and properly trained in how to react to most situations they are going to get caught in, it all pays off. The army and marine corp have spent oodles of money studying what happened, where and why things work in combat, and what doesn’t. The amount of study about what works and what doesn’t is amazing. Every battle is analyzed, studied under a microscope, and picked apart by experts. Yes, the gear is “better”, and obviously Med-Evacs save a lot of lives, but I think the training is the real kicker.

  5. Also, when today’s soldiers get shot, they are shot with lower energy rounds from rifles like the AK-47 or 74. Our WWII guys got hit with German 8mm Mausers and similar stuff – much deadlier rounds whatever you are wearing.

  6. Bram,
    They also didn’t have tan combat boots, which seems to contribute favorably to the killed/wounded ratio.

  7. Didn’t they have brownish / tan leather boots back then? Not sure if the Marines and Army had different footwear then. That may have compensated for the lack of body armor. I think you need to check.

  8. Bram,
    Well as you can clearly see in the graphics, the WW2-era Joe had “leather combat boots”, as opposed to the “tan combat boots” of today. World of difference. Apparently.

    And since the accompanying text refers specifically to “soldiers”, I guess none of this applies to the Corps.

    Oh, and as Jim Rummell alludes to earlier, try and find an M1 rifle under $1,000.

    This graphic is like three kinds of crap before we even start getting nitpicky about it.

  9. Judging by the inversely related green dot sizes of the unit cost to casualty ratio, it would appear that we can soon look forward to casualty-less warfare. That’ll be great! It’ll be like the worlds biggest game of Halo. All that we’ll have to do is spend a ton more money, and from what I have gathered from recent events in Washington, we have unlimited amounts of it. What could go wrong?

  10. Check the weights too. According to this the ‘Current Operations’ version weights more than twice as much as the WWII and Vietnam version, over 75 pounds, without the load carrying equipment that they have.

  11. Don’t knock the +1 Tan Combat Boots of Swiftness. Not only do they lower the soldier’s armour class but they also enhance their saving throw against paralysis, poison or death magic.

  12. Bram,
    Yeeahhh, I’ve seen those CMP products, although admitedly not in person. They look a little…dicey. Have you handled/shot CMP stuff?

  13. The Green Machine gave me the intercepter vest (with all 200 of the add on panels, straps, plates, ‘n “stuff” I don’t know what it’s for) LOL!, an ACH with improved suspension and pads, and the NBC mask, before I came over here. My company has informed me (in writing, lest I forget) that if I lose, damage, destroy, or otherwise fail to return said gear………….I could be billed up to $3000.00 for just those three pieces of kit.

    PS. The good news is the only things I use are the helmet and SAPI plates, so the rest of it is just expensive ballast in the bottom of one of my duffle bags. Great! 🙁

    PPS: I would gladly trade in all this dead weight for an M4, with an ACOG and 300rds ballistic tip ammo! Now tht’s what I call “protection”! LOL!

  14. I haven’t bought one yet – I’ve seen friends’ CMP M1’s that looked pretty good. The wood isn’t always pretty but the metal is is good shape. They say you should only use the low power surplus ammo.

  15. Flanker,
    Hey haven’t you heard? Contractors are getting rich downrange. I’m sure I read something to that effect in an op-ed in the Boston Globe…


  16. Whoever wrote that doesn’t appear to realise that the wounded to killed ratio is now higher, not lower, probably from switching between the wounded to killed ratio and the killed to wounded ratio without paying attention.

  17. The cost of a soldier going up should not surprise anyone. Can’t one man now inflict the damage of a platoon in WW2? Call in accurate artillery, an air strike, etc. Maybe I am missing something here?

  18. Didn’t the Vietnam body armour (which isn’t pictured)… weigh an absolute ton?!

    In which case, I’m not sure the weight is correct either!

  19. Damn – I didn’t notice they had flipped the ratio’s! Now 88% of our casualties are KIA – we should go back to the WWII stuff.

    I wore the Vietnam armor in Boot Camp – imagine a jacket filled with pots and pans – I got a nasty heat rash marching around in it. The Kevlar vests were definitely lighter – but with the stop plates inserted, we may be back up to that weight.

  20. I think the issue of weight carried is part of a cycle of protecting the Soldier. Sure, the modern day U.S. Soldier/Marine carries more than the Joes of WWII and Vietnam, but so did the Roman Legionnaire who carried about 75 pounds of real armor!
    On the point of cost, any reduction in the chance of being a casualty is worth the price. Modern Armies, or civilizations, that hold human life as sacred should be willing to spend the money for this type of equipment. If not they should get out of the warfare business.

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