From: ac579@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (G.C.J. Timm)
Author's note: Due to current U.S. Government requirements
EVERYTHING THAT FOLLOWS IS A WORK OF FICTION.
Copyright 1991. Geoffrey C.J. Timm
The soldier is a highly endangered species. The air on the battlefield will kill him. Being sensed by any of hundreds of different mines will kill him. Unpleasant people with nasty toys will kill him on sight. A soldier's lot is not a happy one.
Any system is a compromise. You have to balance protection, weight, serviceability and comfort. Comfort ALWAYS comes last.
Starting from the skin outward, remove most hair for cleanliness, and add a layer of mesh underwear, with special baby diaper based pads under the arm pits to draw perspiration away from the wearer. This should also be the layer where the fresh cooled air goes after the soldier inhales some of the supply.
The next layer should be the uniform/CBR suit. Available in various levels and with integrated layers and optional weather protection.
The next layer is load bearing equipment (LBE) and combat load, weapons, ammo, food, water, etc.
Now, take the lessons learned from Navy ship design and apply it to the individual. That is, incorporate EVERYTHING carried into the armor plan.
The People's Republic of China used the magazine carrier to place six 30-round 7.62mm x 39 magazines over the lower chest cavity. Exported to NVN it meant a US rifleman in SVN had to shoot through four layers of thin steel, four steel cases and some thin canvas. At short range the 55 grain bullet had a tendency to shatter, giving the 5.56mm x 45 a poor reputation at short ranges. This may be why the SEALS often carry the obsolete M-14 7.62mm x 51 instead of the modern M-16A2!
Now, let's not waste capability. The idea that body armor is a separate system is a waste of time, effort and money. The US has integrated their current ballistic nylon vest into an equipment support system. This can be expanded to include almost everything carried.
Where should you put the computer system unit? How about over your heart? Given the choice, which would you rather lose? Carbon fiber composites and special plastics can replace heavier material and are fairly bullet resistant, or can be structured that way. The Israelis use the TOGA system of composite add on armor to raise the protective level of the M-113 APC. According to one source the TOGA will stop 14.5mm rounds before it gets to the hull! Taking a note from the NFL, (National Football League, American Style, Also known as the 100 yard war) a nice set of shoulder pads can be useful for spreading the carried load and the system can prevent the helmet from moving into positions which would prove injurious to the poor guy inside. This also gives you splinter protection from overhead bursts when you pull your arms in against your body. Gives a useful location for your commo antenna too.
Auxiliary gear can also add to the protection. The ultimate Sci.mil weapon, tool entrenching, or shovel is already proof against 5.56mm x 45 rounds, 55-grain ball projectile, at an angle that is. A plastic canteen doesn't stop much but four inches of water helps. A sleeping bag can be made with ballistic nylon as well as synthetic insulation. Even ammunition can be packaged to form a protective barrier if the plastic magazines are made to resist penetration. Planning for the armor scheme must also include breaking up the Infra Red signature.
The outer layers. The Gilly Suit made famous by British snipers is essentially a smock with rough burlap strips sewn to it to make a person look like a shrub. This idea, modernized, would be a loose smock with water resistant, radar scattering, IR distorting effects as well as visually looking like a shrub. Weapons and equipment should be carried under the smock to hide it from active sensors.
It would make sense to carry several disposable plastic camouflage pattern sheets to hide under when chemicals are disbursed. These sheets might also be employed as decoys.
The entire ensemble isn't likely to make the cover of a fashion magazine, but it should prove popular with the guy inside. I think the Air Conditioning (we'll have to call it something like "Combat Infantry Powered Life Support" CIPLS to get it passed by the budget committees) will be vital.
Should a soldier carry a shield? Given modern weapons and modern synthetics it might make sense to bring back the shield. This would be a curved piece of composite material with excellent projectile resistance, worn as the last layer over the back during deployment (marching that is), worn in front during assaults and used to form overhead cover when the soldier digs into a position.
Any and all disclaimers ever issued anywhere by anyone apply.