Taliban snipers test body armor and helmets

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A recent article by Terri Judd of London-based The Independent entitled “Sharp rise in Army deaths from small arms fire prompts inquiry into Taliban snipers,” suggests that troops may not have the proper helmets or body armor to deal with the changing tactics of the Taliban.   

According to the article, “commanders in Afghanistan are examining whether a sharp rise in troops being killed by gunfire is a sign that a better trained or equipped Taliban is targeting soldiers with snipers.   More soldiers have been killed by small arms fire in the past four months than in the whole of any previous year. While deaths by bullet accounted for just 13 per cent of those killed in combat in 2009, that figure has risen to almost 40 per cent in recent months.”  Many of these deaths are attributable to single shots from sharpshooters, or even trained snipers.

American General James Conway recently told the US House Armed Services Committee: “Right now, the biggest threat in Marjah is not necessarily the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) for our killed in action. It is the sniper that takes a long-range shot and can penetrate our protective equipment, particularly the helmet.”

Some of those interviewed for this article suggested that it was too early to tell if the high incidence of deaths caused by small arms fire signals a change in enemy warfare tactics, but if so we need to place increased emphasis on upgrading body armor and helmets to deal with this new threat.

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  1. Stephen Pryor  June 22, 2010

    Recently there have been increased articles and semi discussions circulation on this website revolving around body armor, helmets and troop deaths. What worries me about these topics is whether the increased deaths is causing a more intensified vendor replacement initiative or not. I am thinking that maybe the focus and outlet of these concerns will reach the “ears” of the overall population or if these concerns are only released to a select few? I think that an open campaign to increase the awareness of the American people would be beneficial by igniting a serious overview and reform campaign into the issues of faulty body armor, faulty helmets as well as faulty replacements parts for weaponry. Maybe these problems will be given increased and intensified attention when the public becomes aware of them. It is a possibility that better weapons will come as a result as well. I know that it angers me that an apparent lack of concern from people in positions who can rectify the situation has been allowed to continue for too long. After all, this is not the first conflict, engagement or action that has had these problems. Although I am for decreasing budgetary expenditures, I am in full support of supplying what is needed to get the jobs done in our military. I sincerely think that Americans as a whole would support the move to increase the budgetary items for troop protection procurement.

    Addendum: Waste could be of minimal concern when the contractors that are written are explicit, restrictive and have protections against unnecessary budgetary overruns. These guarantees can be accomplished when quid pro quo, cronyism and nepotism are eliminated during the bidding/contract process.