<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile U.S. troops get new body armor with added features, glitches

U.S. troops get new body armor with added features, glitches

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

BAGHDAD U.S. Army soldiers, who have been provided with enhanced body armor, see pros and cons.

Members of the army's 4th Infantry Division have started wearing the new Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV. The design of the new vest differs from its predecessors, particularly in that the wearer must lift the body armor over his head and pull down.

"I noticed right away how the weight is more evenly distributed with the new vest," Pfc. Joe Piotrowski, an infantryman with the division's Military Transition Team, Multinational Division-Baghdad, said. "However, there's more Kevlar on the inside of the vest, so it got twisted easily and made it uncomfortable."

Previous models, particularly the Interceptor Body Armor, were designed to be worn as a jacket. As a result, IOTV has required another person to help in fitting.

Soldiers can also detach the fasteners of IOTV on the wearer's left shoulder. This would enable the wearer to slip into the vest from the side.

IOTV has been issued to soldiers with 120 days or more remaining on their tour in Iraq. Officers said most soldiers were reported to have been adapting to the new body armor system.

The new system also contained a quick release lanyard that reduces the vest to its component pieces. The design was meant to enable the wearer to shed his vest easily in an emergency.

IOTV also contained a flush front. Officers said this enabled more room to attach accessories to carry weapon magazines and other equipment.

Still, soldiers have complained that some elements of IOTV were flawed. They cited the penchant of the quick release system to pull the vest apart, forcing soldiers to add tape to the cord to prevent it from loosening.

"The quick-release feature was a good idea," Piotrowski said. "But I hear it's a pain to put back together. If something does happen where you're submerged under water or something like that, it'll be a lot better to take this vest off rather than the other one where you have to take it off like a jacket. The new system will just fall off of you."

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