Providing cover for not providing armor:
Three soldiers just back from Iraq — including two who credit personal and vehicle armor with saving their lives — traveled to Capitol Hill today to tell Congress that when it comes to protecting troops, more isn’t always better.
“We’re here to say we’re pretty happy with what we have,” Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, the 3rd Infantry Division’s assistant division commander for maneuver, told the American Forces Press Service before appearing at today’s House Armed Services Committee’s Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing.
While welcoming improvements in the systems that protect troops and their vehicles, Horst said it’s a misconception that it’s possible to fully protect U.S. troops. “What we do is an inherently dangerous business,” he said. “There are no silver bullets, and there are no protective bubbles that you can put is in.”
Providing better personal and vehicle protection has a “Catch 22” factor, Horst noted. Insurgents will adapt to improved armor by using bigger bullets. And because enhanced equipment is typically heavier and bulkier than what it replaces, it can actually hamper troops’ ability to operate in combat, he said.
“You must have a reasonable expectation about the level of protection you can provide without compromising the mission,” Horst said. “There are no absolutes. There is no 100-percent solution. We will continue to work toward 100 percent, but we will never get there, because if you build a bigger (protective) plate, the bad guy figures out that he needs a bigger bullet to penetrate the bigger plate.”
Horst has good reason to be happy with the protection his up-armored Humvee provided when it was hit by a roadside bomb in early January. The blast, which sent quarter-inch ball bearings flying into his windshield and destroyed the M1114 vehicle, never touched the crew compartment. Horst and three crewmembers walked away without a scratch.
…and some didn’t.