What do NFL and Military Helmets Have In Common?: Not Much!

Posted by:

Like many, I am moved by the tributes paid to military Veterans and active service members at NFL games.  Nevertheless, both the NFL and the military have come under sharp criticism regarding the number brain injuries suffered on both the playing field and battlefield.

chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy

Both the NFL and military have stonewalled the problem for many years, but it now appears that the NFL is taking action to introduce a “safer” helmet in the hope that they can reduce concussions and permanent brain injuries for professional athletes. Hopefully, better protective gear will work its way through college and high school football programs.

The Vicis Zero1 helmet has now been purchased by 25 NFL teams and will be introduced during the 2017 season. According to initial press releases:

In testing against 33 other helmets to measure which best reduces the severity of impact to the head, the Vicis ZERO1 finished first. Included in the study were helmets from Schutt and Riddell, which currently account for approximately 90 percent of helmet sales.

Vicis was founded by neurosurgeon Sam Browd and Dave Marver, former CEO of the Cardiac Science Corporation, with the goal of reducing the high rate of concussions in football. While it would take years of play and further studies to conclusively prove that they’ve been successful, the studies show that they’re on their way to making an impact.

Found below is a video explaining how this helmet helps provide additional protection to football professionals:

While the safety requirements for battlefield and football helmets differ significantly, it does appear that the NFL has acted a lot quicker than the military to protect its professionals.

Reducing brain injuries at their point of origin is far preferable to treating neurological damage to sensitive brain cells in the aftermath.

The US Army – and other DoD components – have long been aware that current helmets offer battlefield personnel little protection against IED devices typically found in Afghanistan and in the Middle East.  Indeed, SFTT has been reporting on various studies by the military embedding sensors into military helmets.

According to my calculation, the US Army has over 10 years of sensor data to draw on.  Surely, this is sufficient to draw some conclusions and develop a better-designed helmet capable of providing additional protection against concussive brain injury.

While the military continues to “study” the issue, it is encouraging to see the NFL to take action.  Frankly, I don’t buy the NFL sales pitch that the league rushed in to protect the health and safety of its players.  If true, they would have done so long ago when the NFL first started studying brain injuries.

As the New York Times reported earlier, the NFL leadership buried extensive “concussion” evidence collected between 1996 and 2001 to deflect potential claims by former NFL players who had suffered brain damage.

As we have seen in the case of body armor,  DoD leadership and the NFL have much in common:  a strong propensity to hide the facts from their employees and the public at large.

While one can find many faults in the way the NFL leadership has acted “to protect the safety of its players” and the integrity of their franchise, NFL teams are now treating brain injuries far more seriously than the DoD.

In addition to helmets, several NFL teams are now treating players with suspected brain injury with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).    Sadly, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to block the use of HBOT in treating Veterans with PTSD and TBI.

Could it be that DoD personnel charged with evaluating HBOT therapy failed to employ the proper protocols in 2010 clinical testing procedures?  If so, why?

SFTT remains hopeful that both the VA and the DoD will act quickly to introduce helmets that afford more protection to battlefield personnel and approve HBOT as an acceptable treatment procedure for PTSD and TBI.

0

Did A.J. Hughes Screw the Troops?

Posted by:

In a solid piece of investigative reporting, WHEC of Rochester, New York reports that local firm A.J. Hughes Screw Products may have supplied defective screws for combat helmets.

I-Team 10 Investigative Reporter,  Brett Davidsen, reports that the now defunct A.J. Hughes Screw Products was sub-contracted by Gentex Corporation to make parts for Army and Air Force helmets.   According to court filings unearthed by WHEC investigative reporters,  A.J. Hughes was subcontracted to supply screws that attach the chin strap of the Advanced Combat Helmet.   Apparently, the screws didn’t meet specifications and the US Army found that ” in extreme environmental conditions, the non-conforming screws corroded pre-maturely.”

As a result,  the Army recalled about 37,000 of the helmets that were issued to soldiers and airmen. U.S. Army Project Manager of Soldier Protection Colonel William Cole said, “Instead of protecting the soldiers the way it should, there’s a potential you could have a ballistic failure where either there would be a penetration, or more likely, a part of the bolt that would break off and impact the soldier’s skull.”

Retired Army General John Batiste was commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq. “Our troops in harms way deserve the very best…the best equipment that money can buy that we can provide them to protect their lives.”

As SFTT is quoted in the article, this is not the first time defective equipment has been furnished to our frontline troops.   In fact, defective  helmets were recalled when irregularities were found in the manufacture of combat helmets subcontracted to the Federal Prison Industries.    Even more egregious, are DoD efforts to hide the efficacy of body armor issued to US troops.  In fact, SFTT has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to obtain access to autopsy records which may prove that defective body armor and cracked ceramic plates may have been a factor in their deaths.

While “the Army says no one was ever injured as a result of the faulty screw,” how can one be sure?  Those in charge with the procurement process insist that our troops have the best equipment.  Furthermore, they claim that there has never been a failure which contributed to injury or death caused by a defective “screw” or “ceramic plate.”   If true, why do military officials stonewall every public effort to get the facts?  If DoD and military leaders would be more straight-forward with the public and the troops they lead, we would be in a far better position to truly provide our troops with the” best equipment money can provide.”

I-Team 10 investigation: Screwed up Army helmets

Posted at: 11/24/2010 4:53 PM | Updated at: 11/24/2010 7:17 PM

By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com

Did a local company put U.S. soldiers at risk?

A.J. Hughes Screw Products was sub-contracted to make parts for Army and Air Force helmets but I-Team 10 has learned that one of the executives from the company is now the target of a federal criminal investigation.

In a war zone, specially designed helmets can be the difference between life and death. But a local company that provided parts for the Army’s advanced combat helmets is under investigation for using lesser quality parts.

Retired Army General John Batiste was commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq. “Our troops in harms way deserve the very best…the best equipment that money can buy that we can provide them to protect their lives.”

A Pennsylvania company called Gentex Corporation was contracted by the U.S. Army to make the helmets. Gentex sub-contracted with A.J. Hughes Screw Products of Rochester to manufacture the screws that attach the chin straps and other parts.

Now, A.J. Hughes is facing allegations it cut corners by using screws that did not meet government requirements.

U.S. Army Project Manager of Soldier Protection Colonel William Cole said, “The fact of the matter is we put out a very specific specifications on what the material has to be and they didn’t follow it.”

As a result, last year the Army recalled about 37,000 of the helmets that were issued to soldiers and airmen. The Army found that in extreme environmental conditions, the non-conforming screws corroded pre-maturely.

While the risk may have been minimal, the Army says the helmets were not as safe as they should have been. Col. Cole said, “Instead of protecting the soldiers the way it should, there’s a potential you could have a ballistic failure where either there would be a penetration, or more likely, a part of the bolt that would break off and impact the soldier’s skull.”

A.J. Hughes is no longer in business. But I-Team 10 has discovered the federal government is preparing criminal charges against the former vice-president of the company, Gregory Tremaine of Spencerport.

Felony information was filed in U.S. district court last week. It accuses Tremaine of making false claims causing the U.S. government to be over-billed by $130,000. The court documents say Tremaine signed certificates of compliance attesting to the fact that the screws met Army specifications.

I-Team 10 went to Tremaine’s home twice to speak with him about the allegations, but no one was there. And his attorney declined to comment.

Gentex has already taken civil action, accusing the screw maker of malicious conduct. It won a default judgement of more than $672,000 when no one from A.J. Hughes responded to the lawsuit.

General Batiste said, “Rochester is a lot of great things and one of them should be the center of ethics and integrity. And this is an example, maybe, where we don’t measure up.”

I-Team 10 also contacted an organization called Soldiers for the Truth whose stated objective is to get the best equipment for the troops the government can provide.

A spokesperson for the group echoed General Batiste’s sentiment but added that unfortunately, this is not the first case of defense contractors not living up to their promises.

As for how the sub-standard screw discovered, the problem was actually discovered by the helmet company, Gentex, when they noticed the screw appeared different. They notified the Army and ultimately provided replacement helmets for the troops at no cost.

The Army says no one was ever injured as a result of the faulty screw.

2

MIT study suggests face shields could reduce blast-induced TBI

Posted by:

A researcher from MIT claims that computer models suggest that face shields added to combat helmets could help reduce blast-induced traumatic brain injury or “TBI” for US military troops serving in combat zones.

Found below is the news release from MIT

QUOTE

MONDAY, NOV. 22, 2010, 3:00 P.M. ET

MIT Study: Adding face shields to helmets could help avoid blast-induced brain injuries

– Researcher releases computer models that show effect of simulated explosions

Simulated Blast Shield

Simulated blast shield (left) and cut-away

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — More than half of all combat-related injuries sustained by U.S. troops are the result of explosions, and many of those involve injuries to the head. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, about 130,000 U.S. service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have sustained traumatic brain injuries — ranging from concussion to long-term brain damage and death — as a result of an explosion. A recent analysis by a team of researchers led by MIT reveals one possible way to prevent those injuries — adding a face shield to the helmet worn by military personnel.

In a paper to be published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Raul Radovitzky, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his colleagues report that adding a face shield to the standard-issue helmet worn by the vast majority of U.S. ground troops could significantly reduce traumatic brain injury, or TBI. The extra protection offered by such a shield is critical, the researchers say, because the face is the main pathway through which pressure waves from an explosion are transmitted to the brain.

In assessing the problem, Radovitzky, who is also the associate director of MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and his research team members recognized that very little was known about how blast waves interact with brain tissue or how protective gear affects the brain’s response to such blasts. So they created computer models to simulate explosions and their effects on brain tissue. The models integrate with unprecedented detail the physical aspects of an explosion, such as the propagation of the blast wave, and the anatomical features of the brain, including the skull, sinuses, cerebrospinal fluid, and layers of gray and white matter.

“There is a community studying this problem that is in dire need of this technology,” says Radovitzky, who is releasing the computer code for the creation of the models to the public this week (for the code, please email: tbi-modeling@mit.edu). In doing so, he hopes the models will be used to identify ways to mitigate TBI, which has become prominent because advances in protective gear and medicine have meant that more service members are surviving blasts that previously would have been fatal.

To create the models, Radovitzky collaborated with David Moore, a neurologist at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who used magnetic resonance imaging to model features of the head. The researchers then added data collected from colleagues’ studies of how the brain tissue of pigs responds to mechanical events, such as shocks. They also included details about what happens to the chemical energy that is released upon detonation (outside the brain) that instantly converts into thermal, electromagnetic and kinetic energy that interacts with nearby material, such as a soldier’s helmet.

The researchers recently used the models to explore one possibility for enhancing the helmet currently worn by most ground troops, which is known as the Advanced Combat Helmet, or ACH: a face shield made of polycarbonate, a type of transparent armor material. They compared how the brain would respond to the same blast wave simulated in three scenarios: a head with no helmet, a head wearing the ACH, and a head wearing the ACH with a face shield. In all three simulations, the blast wave struck the person from the front.

The analysis revealed that although the ACH — as currently designed and deployed — slightly delayed the arrival of the blast wave, it didn’t significantly mitigate the wave’s effects on brain tissue. After the researchers added a conceptual face shield in the third simulation, the models showed a significant reduction in the magnitude of stresses on the brain because the shield impeded direct transmission of blast waves to the face.

Radovitzky hopes that the models will play a major role in developing protective gear not only for the military, but also for researchers studying the effects of TBI in the civilian population as a result of car crashes and sports injuries. While the study was limited to a single set of blast characteristics, future simulations will study different kinds of blast conditions, such as angle and intensity, as well as the impact of blast waves on the neck and torso, which have been suggested as a possible indirect pathway for brain injury.

Source: “In silico investigation of intracranial blast mitigation with relevance to military traumatic brain injury,” by Nyein, M., Jason, A., Yu. L., Pita, C., Joannopoulos, J., Moore, D., Radovitzky, R. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 November, 2010.

Funding: The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization through the Army Research Office

Contact: Jen Hirsch, MIT News Office

E: jfhirsch@mit.edu, T: 617-253-1682

# # #

Written by Morgan Bettex, MIT News Office

UNQUOTE

SFTT Analysis

Clearly, this is very exciting information and we have to applaud Raul Radovitzky, his fellow researchers and MIT for sharing the computer modeling simulations with the general public.   Brain injuries are receiving considerable attention by the US Army and the Department of Defense and any improvements in combat helmet designs to reduce brain-related combat injuries  is of the utmost importance to troops serving in harm’s way.

SFTT and its supporters have labored long and hard to make sure our troops have the finest protective gear and combat equipment available.  The fact that better protective gear is available or that the technology exists to dramatically upgrade our existing “kit” doesn’t mean that this state-of-the-art equipment will ever be fielded by our troops.   As we have seen time and time again,  the “best” equipment options are often rejected by a military procurement process that operates with stealth-like secrecy and stonewalls Congress and the public on the efficacy of current combat equipment.

The questions we should all be asking ourselves and, most importantly, our military leaders are these:

  • How fast can current manufacturers of combat helmets produce a face shield based on the  “free” computer simulation information provided by MIT?
  • How fast and easily can a “face shield” be added to the Advanced Combat Helmet (“ACH”)?
  • How long would it take for the US Army and DoD to test combat helmet prototypes using  face shields?
  • Assuming the conclusions of the MIT research are confirmed, how soon can we expect US troops to be equipped with helmets using face shields?

This is a real opportunity for the Department of Defense to take the initiative to provide our troops with a state-of-the-art helmet to avoid the increasing incidence of combat-induced brain injuries that now affect well over 100,000 returning veterans.   The time to act is now!

4

2010 Congress: The Services and the “Signature Wound”

Posted by:

Sure, “Bloody Sunday” shows sports helmets need fixing. But what still resonates for me is the shocking state of our young warriors’ helmets and the little attention paid to the “Bloody Days” everyday in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The key issues of course are what’s being done to prevent these egregious combat-related head injuries and exactly who is responsible?

Our senior military leaders?  Congress?  A combination of both? 

If you Google “TBI congressional hearings” you get 23,000 hits, the majority of which confirm that the Congressional focus is on sports-related head injuries versus combat-related head injuries (aka Traumatic Brain Injury).

If you Google “TBI the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” you get 14,000 hits, demonstrating that the majority of policymakers and military leaders have actually done very little. In fact, it’s pretty much just the same old standard boilerplate lip service.

That’s because Congressional hearings simply don’t materialize out of thin air.  Oftentimes, a current event or failed policy will cause legislators to call for a hearing.  But unless there’s a constituency with well-connected “K” Street lobbyists, the committee staff will routinely develop a reactive schedule of hearings to support legislative priorities on the radar-screen within their respective committees to consider relevant testimony as they prepare to leverage pending legislation.

This year alone there have been six congressional hearings related to head injuries – four on sports-related head injuries and two on combat-related injuries. 

One of the two Congressional hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee included TBI.  However, the TBI topic and witnesses were added to a previously scheduled hearing only after Pro Publica reported on the inadequate policy attention given TBI which alerted Chairman Levin to the problem.  In other words TBI hadn’t been scheduled –and the lesson learned is that it often takes either lobbying or the spotlight of investigative reporting to prompt Congressional action. The squeaky wheel syndrome.

What these six hearings do reveal however is that the sports-related injury hearings focused on a combination of prevention (i.e. improving equipment) and treatment (specifically the impact these injuries have on physiology, including motor skills, long term brain damage and cognitive rehabilitation), while the combat injury related hearings were solely concerned with treatment of TBI—with nary a mention of prevention such as improving the equipment.

The point is that after almost a decade of sustaining gruesome head injuries in combat there is little-to-no congressional focus on prevention of these injuries.  I’m not talking about the tactics, techniques and procedures of defeating the IED threat—which is a completely different argument and issue—but actually improving the combat helmet! 

 So why is the focus on treatment, not prevention?  My best guess is that the Services continue to follow the Code of Silence and do very little to actually schedule or focus Congress to fix this problem.  After all, in a culture where anyone who comes forward pays a harsh price, why volunteer to air dirty laundry in such a public forum?

So what does happen when the Services are called before committees to answer uncomfortable questions, since they’re not about to raise their hands on their own? 

Our sources have confirmed that each Service and their legislative liaisons fight tooth and nail to:

  • Control every witness (i.e. reduce the rank of the witness – less liability at the top);
  • Submit reports past their due dates (i.e. drag heels on timeliness and blame the bureaucracy): and,
  • Short-change statements in order to minimize exposure and keep a tight lid on policy (i.e. release prepared remarks and statements to committees at the last possible moment).

So if the Services are unwilling to own up to the problem and make prevention the priority, is there anywhere in the public record where military leaders have focused on replacing the Advanced Combat Helmet as opposed to after-the-fact treatment? 

The tragic answer is no.

A cursory review of each Service’s Annual Posture Statements confirmed more focus on treatment, but little to none on prevention:

  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs briefly mentions “treating the hidden wounds of war” in his statement.
  • The Army Chief of Staff didn’t even mention TBI. Seriously, has this man been to Walter Reed lately?
  • The Commandant of the Marine Corps does better than his Soldier counter-part and

    reported that the Corps has a formal screening protocol for Marines who suffer concussions or who are exposed to blast events in theater and that Naval medicine remains at the forefront of researching and implementing pioneering techniques to treat traumatic brain injury.

  • The Chief of Naval Operations reported that Navy Medicine has reached out to its civilian colleagues and established partnerships with civilian hospitals to improve the understanding and care for those affected by traumatic brain injuries. 
  • The Chief of Staff of the Air Force made no mention what so ever of TBI  “signature wounds.” 

Finally, I briefly mentioned that hearings beget legislation and appropriations.  So what are the fruits of the legislative labor in regards to directing and funding prevention? The committee notes that the Army is accelerating research and development of materials to increase personal protective equipment while reducing its weight. They recommend an increase of $3.0 million (in Program Element 64601A ) for next-generation helmet ballistic materials technology (2010 National Defense Authorization Act Committee Report). Chump change to the Military Industrial Congressional Complex, an insult to America’s frontline troops—and a confirmation of the sad fact that sometime, somewhere prevention will be addressed only if an organization such as ours starts applying the necessary pressure.

Yet right now, more than a week after the NFL’s “Bloody Sunday,” I guarantee you that league leaders, owners and investors are making detailed plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars redesigning helmets and gear, revamping training and keeping players accountable for violating policies – all to protect their human investment. And how do they plan to do that?  By preventing further injuries to their players in the first place.

6

Quibbling Officials defend broken Military Procurement Process

Posted by:

On the Army’s effectiveness testing of body armor for the troops, a 2009 GAO report concluded: “Overall reliability and repeatability of the test results are uncertain.” To that, Army Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller, Program Executive Officer of the Soldier Systems Center at Ft. Belvoir said:

“The challenge we are having with this GAO audit report is they are challenging our processes, and I think what we are really identifying is we have had an evolution of processes and we need to better articulate what we are doing there.”

He has insulted men of valor and action with empty words.

BG Fuller said that despite the GAO finding irregularities in body armor testing, “We have the best body armor by far.” He added that he appreciated the GAO because it helped the Army insure that the troops get the “very best.”

Without responding to the GAO report’s findings, Gen. Fuller had preemptively framed the issue as a failure to communicate, not a real problem with testing.

Then he asserted that the body armor was the best.

Were that true, why would the House Armed Services Committee have published these words in its 2010 FY National Defense Authorization Act Summary?

Body Armor

The committee requires DOD to establish specific budget line items within the procurement and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) accounts for body armor. This will improve accountability and increase transparency into long-term investment strategies as well as facilitate the advancement of lighter-weight technologies. Additionally, the committee strongly encourages the standardization of the requirements and test and evaluation processes for body armor. (p. 24)

The Committee’s directive clearly implied that accountability and transparency in body armor testing, in evaluation, and in contracting fail to meet appropriate standards.

Now read this gem in the same report, which really hits home considering the above statement of the House’s expectation that Gen. Fuller act, not just speak on the issue:

Prohibition Relating to Propaganda

The committee prohibits DOD from engaging in propaganda activities except as otherwise authorized by law. The term “propaganda” includes materials such as editorials or other articles prepared by an agency or its contractors at the behest of the agency and circulated as the position of parties outside the agency. (p. 46).

The prohibition could include assertions of unverified facts about body armor safety made by Brig. Gen. Fuller on Army.mil that appear to agree with proprietary claims of existing body armor contractors. Such statements raise serious questions about the objectivity of the testing processes.

The Soldier Center took another hit for failing to insure quality control on the testing of helmets, according to a CNN report in May. The Department of Justice had to inform the Pentagon that Armor Source, LLC, the helmet contractor, was under investigation for violating standards for making helmets withstand ballistics. In an Army ballistics re-test of the helmets, the helmets failed and 44,000 were recalled.

But, it was another recent example of poor Pentagon oversight of its suppliers that caused me to review the body armor and helmet procurement problems. While reviewing press on the rare earth element and trade imbroglio heating up between China and the West this week, I found a classic quote about the Pentagon’s procurement awareness. Christine Parthemore, fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told the Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia, “In defense equipment, because stuff is manufactured by the private sector, and [the private sector] is not involved in the end-use of these products. … There’s sort of a detachment of information that happens..”

Parthemore was explaining that the US military had “very little sense” of its own dependence on rare earth minerals used in its most sensitive smart weapons, guidance and communications systems because the metals’ usage is proprietary information.

Considering the context, a Chinese monopoly on magnetic components that help provide the “shock & awe” for which the US military is renowned, Parthemore’s observation suggests that the Pentagon will sacrifice national security to protect corporate privacy, even if the corporations are state-owned Chinese firms or their agents!!!

In response, the 2010 Pentagon scratches its collective head and effectively says, ‘We didn’t know that was a national security issue; let’s study our dependence on rare earths.’ This is despite Deng Xiaopeng’s famous boast that China would use its leverage in rare earths against the West’s domination in oil.

Rare metal supply is a troop safety issue too, since magnets manufactured from rare earths make bombs smart enough to miss friendly forces during air support to ground troops.

Is there really a ‘detachment of information’ because the Pentagon wants to honor the proprietary secrets of its contractors? Or is there collusion with contractors to keep proprietary vulnerabilities a secret? Such facts beg for DOJ probes into possible illegal influences between procurement officials and contractors. Perhaps these security problems may be deterred in the future by putting dishonest and corrupt officials in jail.

Michael Woodson
Contributing Editor
Note from SFTT Editor:  SFTT is thankful to the vigilant Michael Woodson for bringing this information to our attention. The GAO and other other investigative bodies have unearthed many examples of flawed test procedures and an unhealthy relationship between private contractors and military officials responsible for the procurement of protective gear and combat equipment for our troops.  It is patently clear to all who have followed this bizarre and incomprehensible display of Beltway spin that the “Emperor has no clothes!”  When will there be sufficient public outrage to bring this seriously flawed and possibly corrupt military procurement process and incestuous relationship between procurment officials and their suppliers to an end.  Support SFTT and help to bring light to the shoddy and shady processes that appear so ingrained in our military procurement system. The lives of our brave young men and women who serve in harm’s way may very well depend on it.
0

Bloody Sunday: 16 (US Troop Casualties) vs. 6 (NFL Player Casualties)

Posted by:

 I follow football.  High School, College, Professional – all levels, all kinds. It’s a blood sport.  So there was no way I could ignore the blaring RSS feed headlines on Monday morning announcing that this past weekend’s games will be forever known as “Bloody Sunday.” Sports Illustrated football analyst Peter King reported that “Last Sunday could go down as a seminal moment in NFL history,” because of the injuries sustained on the playing field and the impact on future play, rules and equipment.  The Vice President of Operations for the NFL, Ray Anderson, said that “We’ve got to protect players from themselves” as a result of the violent day.

I also follow the war and the troops.  You know, the ones who allow us to watch sports on weekends without having to worry about some mushroom cloud or Mumbai-style attack here on American soil.  The ones out there protecting that freedom thing, right? 

But, “Bloody Sunday” in the NFL?  Six vicious and violent hits?  Four concussions?  A couple of broken bones?  Oh, my . . . especially compared to how “Bloody” it was in Afghanistan last week.  And compare the changes the NFL is making for head injuries sustained by players, to DOD’s lack of concern for frontline troops.

Since January 2010, on average, 15 troops have been wounded in Afghanistan every single day.  Every. Single. Day. Period.  Simply put, that’s a lot of bloody days.  This past Sunday, there were 15 wounded troopers, and sadly, one killed in action; that equals 16 casualties.  Bloody indeed!  But maybe last Sunday in Afghanistan was simply a bad day, so for some perspective, let’s add up all the casualties from last week.  On average, there were over 100 troopers wounded in action, and 18 US service members paid the ultimate sacrifice and were killed in action.  15 deaths resulted from IED strikes, and 3 deaths resulted from hostile fire.  Of the 15 deaths resulting from IED strikes, 4 were killed in one vehicle, 3 were killed in another, and 2 were sharing another vehicle when they were killed by IED’s.[1]  Statistics that detail the type and extent of the more than 100 wounds suffered are not available (or accurate).  However, we can pretty safely assume that the troopers that survived IED blasts in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles suffered some type of mild-to-severe brain injury—or at the least were concussed—and  that these injuries clearly outpaced those suffered by football players last week. 

I’m comparing head trauma in football and combat, because everyone involved is wearing a helmet.  And if on a given Sunday, the spike in head trauma injuries prompts immediate change in policy and a new commitment to equipment upgrades by the NFL—but not the Department of Defense—then it seems to me that we should all take notice.

So what actions did the NFL take? The concern from head injuries and concussions forced the NFL to impose huge fines on three players this Tuesday for dangerous and flagrant hits and warned the league that violent conduct will be cause for suspension.  It only took the NFL 48-flipping-hours!  And I guarantee that helmets, padding, chinstraps, buckles, screws and straps for every single NFL football helmet is being inspected by equipment maintenance personnel and will be carefully repaired, replaced or some new whiz-bang safety component will be added.  I also guarantee that any and all big-contract players who suffered the slightest head injury have received top-shelf medical care and will most likely be forced to sit out a game or two to protect their team’s “investment.”

So what was the response from the Pentagon after last week’s bloody fray in Afghanistan?  Not a peep except to update the casualty data base and keep issuing sub-standard Advanced Combat Helmets to troops.   From what the troops report to SFTT, some troops obviously get Medevac’ed out of theater due to the severity of their injuries; but some don’t.  And for those who weren’t, maybe the mission profile will allow them to take a one-day or two-day respite from being outside the wire.  But probably not, in line with the old adage, “Every man strengthen the north wall.”  Most ludicrous is the appalling fact that no comparison can be made between frontline troops and NFL players regarding the quality of available medical care, the amount of investment in science and technology to improve the equipment and the commitment to provide long term treatment for traumatic brain injuries.  Must be nice to play in the NFL, and that is the bloody truth!


[1] Department of Defense and icasualties.org data.

2

Military News you may have missed – October 9, 2010

Posted by:

0

Military News you may have missed – October 2, 2010

Posted by:

  •  Court Tosses $35.2 Million *Body*-*Armor* Settlement

    October 2, 2010 – This sad story never seems to go away.

  •  BAE Develops ‘Three in One’ *Body Armor* | Kit Up!

    October 2, 2010 – When military contractors talk about “add-ons” and “customization” features I see extra costs. Is this a serious piece of protective gear or just a promotional piece?

  •  Is the *US Army* serious about replacing the M4? « Strike – Hold!

    October 2, 2010 – Good question. Despite its age and inadequacies, not sure there is the commitment to change.

  •  General Dynamics Awarded $25 Million by *U.S. Army* to Produce MK47 Weapon Systems

    October 2, 2010 – New grenade launcher.

  •  *Army* establishes *Army* Cyber Command

    October 2, 2010 – Not sure I understand the mission: ARCYBER’s mission is to plan, coordinate, integrate, synchronize, direct, and conduct network operations and defense of all Army networks. When directed, ARCYBER will conduct cyberspace operations in support of full spectrum operations to ensure U.S. and allied freedom of action in cyberspace, and to deny the same to adversaries.

    Does each military branch need their own cyber security?

  • Yemen as much a threat as *Afghanistan*, report says

    October 2, 2010 – This is certainly not good news.

  •  Gates says too few in US bear the burdens of *war*

    October 2, 2010 – Interesting perspective from Secretary Gates on attracting and retaining qualified officers for the military.

  • *War* veterans’ care to cost $1.3 trillion

    October 2, 2010 – The cost of committing US troops to combat has long term consequences that are often overlooked when determining whether the “costs” justify the intended security benefits.

  • Military thwarted president seeking choice in *Afghanistan*

    September 28, 2010 – Can’t wait to get a copy of Bob Woodward’s book. Not convinced the military brass sand-bagged the President. If you seek a “military solution” then it it probably best to consult our military leadership. If you are looking for a “diplomatic” or “political” solution, then it might be better to seek counsel from other sources. Most importantly, if you are seeking to determine whether American lives lost (and maimed) and the countless billions of dollars of scare resources are worth the hoped for military, diplomatic or political “solution,” then please seek counsel from history and trusted advisors and friends who put our country’s long-term well-being ahead of any particular agenda. In other words, don’t ask the pastry chef to give you menu options.

2

Military News you may have missed – September 25, 2010

Posted by:

0
Page 1 of 3 123