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Soldiers Carrying More Weight Than Ever

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U.S. Army
Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Soldiers on the ground have the best personal protection they’ve ever known, but the price they pay is a load approaching 120 pounds.

To address this burden, the Army is developing a goal and plan to reduce the weight of hard armor plates by 20 percent by identifying and eliminating excess ballistic protection, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report.

The average ground soldier carries 27 pounds of personal protective equipment in addition to weight associated with food, water, uniform items, ammunition, communications equipment and other items. Depending on the soldier’s role in a squad, the total weight burden goes up. For example, a rifleman may carry 96 pounds, while an assistant machine-gunner may carry 140 pounds.

Alternatives to lessen the load are being considered. The report says the Army and Marine Corps are looking at options for the weight of personal protective equipment, such as leaving it to the discretion of commanders to determine the protection level their troops require for the operating environment.

The Army also is exploring improvements to logistics and aerial delivery capabilities, load-transferring systems and other enhancements to equipment, in addition to reducing the weight of protective equipment such as food, water, ammunition, communications equipment and other items.