UPDATE: 9/1/09 FOLLOWING A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST FOR THE RESULTS OF THREE CIVILIAN LABS TESTS ON COMPETING HELMET PADS IN BLAST/IMPACT PROTECTION, WE RECEIVED 185 PAGES OF BLACKED-OUT TEST DATA. WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
July 28, 2009 GAO letter to Congress is yet another namby-pamby self congratulatory bunch of BS claiming the military was correct in changing from the ‘Gold Standard’ helmet pads to the cheapest crap they could find. They still rely on:
- now-discredited USAARL helmet pad tests
- the useless ‘user evaluations’ done Stateside in which troops wear each of four helmet pad sets for two days and compare them. How the Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon (and Belvoir and Quantico) can claim this short-term user evaluation is equal to reports from troops wearing helmets all day every day for months on end is beyond reckless.
- the blast-wave testing done at Livermore Laboratory pointing out the dangers of too-firm helmet pads
- the legion of emails we have posted from troops in combat both in Iraq and Afghanistan that tell the true story about inadequate helmet pads causing headaches and deterioration of mission performance.
As one disgruntled reviewer writes after reading the GAO letter: In summary…all logical thinking, common sense, and integrity have been replaced by stubborn, self-serving, bureaucratic posturing. The truth, responsible behavior, and proper priorities (seem to) have no standing in today’s government.
The Marines have reluctantly listened to the words of wisdom from warriors for their future helmets. Their new Request for Information from vendors includes the mandate that new pads being sought for both current and future helmets must “(3) Provide increased human comfort compared to the current fielded systems and allow for user customization/adjustment without altering the level of protection.” Just a coincidence, I’m sure, but that’s what we’ve been providing for the past 5+ years. Go figure. Disappointingly, they go on to say they will keep using the current GI ‘brick’ pads in the new helmet. I’m confused.
We’ll keep on keeping on bucking a seemingly morbid system until our warriors get what they need and ask for.
The “Dan Rather Reports” show was somewhat of a disappointment in that it didn’t stress enough that troops in combat are the ones complaining about too-firm helmet pads, and with good reason (see: Skull Flexure from Blast Waves- A New Mechanism for Brain Injury with Implications for Helmet Design ). You can view the program and decide which helmet pad vendor comes across as a snake oil salesman for yourself, knowing that all helmet pads pass the Army’s blast/impact protecting tests equally. We don’t give a rat’s patootie what manufacturers say to try and sell their goods or what Stateside 1-2 day ‘user evaluations’ come up with. We depend on what our warriors in combat tell us from first-hand experience during the months on end they wear their protective gear.
Press reports show that IEDs now cause 75% of Afghanistan casualties – Marine Corps News, news from Iraq – Marine Corps Times. Please help us get the best addition to head armor available sent out to the troops while we continue to press Congress and the military to follow our lead. (4/4/09). (Reference)
March 15, 2009: Recent studies show that 75% of all combat deaths are due to head/brain injury. Until we can provide better bomb protection in our military’s vehicles, we need to utilize EVERYTHING in our arsenal to make our troops as safe as possible. The substitution of ‘bricks’ for helmet pads rather than the best America can provide is inexcusable.