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Corps establishes body armor protection levels

30 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant

A new Corpswide system was announced July 9, 2009, in order to simplify and standardize body armor protection levels for Marines in combat zones. 

Similar to the establishment of nuclear, biological and chemical mission-oriented protective posture levels in the 1980s, the intent of establishing standardized body armor protection levels is to enable commanders to tailor levels of ballistic protection on a situational basis.

The four-level system is detailed in Marine Administrative Message 415/09.

Level 0 requires no body armor to be worn, while Level 1 requires a vest plate carrier and soft body armor only. Level 2 requires the vest plate carrier with front and rear hard armor plates, while Level 3 requires Marines wear a vest plate carrier with front, back and side hard armor plates.

Commanders will designate the use of attachments and gear such as helmets, goggles, throat, neck, groin protection and others as required by their units’ mission, the threat and local environmental considerations.

Higher numbered levels provide increased ballistic protection through the addition of armor attachments, but also adds greater weight, increased heat and reduced mobility, thus degrading individual and unit performance over extended periods of time, according to the MarAdmin.

The MarAdmin references MarAdmin 254/09, released April 16, which allows commanders, ranked lieutenant colonel or higher, to designate the amount of armor their Marines wear. It also states commanders will continue to ensure Marines are properly trained and fitted in their personal protective equipment.

The new policy stems from recent operational feedback that recognizes the commander of a battalion or squadron with closer proximity to their Marines can make a better judgment on how much armor is necessary, said Maj. Tom Wood, the infantry advocate for the plans, policies and operations branch at Headquarters Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps recognized the need to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach in dealing with ballistic protection, according to the MarAdmin. 

For more information, see MarAdmin 415/09.


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