‘Full battle rattle’ cutting casualties

‘Full battle rattle’ cutting casualties

Any TV news report from Iraq or Afghanistan shows American service members wearing “full battle rattle.”

Wearing the battle rattle has saved lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army officials said that from Afghanistan there are about 25 soldiers who are walking around alive today because their body armor stopped rounds.

Pentagon officials said there are no firm statistics on the situation from Iraq, but that anecdotal evidence suggests the body armor has saved lives there.

“Everything we’re getting from Iraq and Afghanistan is overwhelmingly positive,” said Dan Power, a spokesman for DHB Industries Inc., the parent company of the maker of the system.

What service members call “battle rattle” is a two-part system, said David Nelson, the deputy product manager for clothing and individual equipment at Program Executive Office-Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Va.

“One component is the soft vest that covers the torso the shoulders and the back,” he said during a phone interview. “It’s made of soft material, a mixture of Kevlar and Twaron.”

These are sewn together inside a nylon camouflage-pattern shell. The nylon vest has attaching points for load-bearing equipment. On the back of the vest is the grab handle.

The second component of the system is ceramic plates that fit in pockets in the front and back of the vest. These plates protect the heart and lungs.

The vest itself will stop bullets from hand guns and fragmentation from indirect munitions such as mortars and hand grenades, said Norm Fanning, Nelson’s coworker. The plates added to the mixture protect against rifle and machine gun rounds.

The total weight of the system is 16 pounds. The current price for the vests is $585 a copy. The plates run about $500 per plate.

Copyright National Guard Association of the United States Jul 2003

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