An experiment to reduce the body armor that soldiers wear while deployed has been delayed, according to a report Saturday in The New York Times.
The Army is hoping to eliminate about 20 pounds that troops must wear and carry, much of it by reducing the bulletproof plates on the back and chest. Counting weapons, body armor, rucksacks and survival gear, troops can carry up to 130 pounds, causing stamina problems in rugged terrain, the Times reported.
A team of Army experts sent to eastern Afghanistan in early March to begin trial runs on the new, lighter plates, was called back when the experiment was put off. The delay in the assessment was reported first by the Army Times, according to the New York Times.
Army officials familiar with the tests on the Modular Body Armor Vests, which are used by the military’s Special Operations Command, told the Times that senior Army leaders ordered further reviews of the plates to guarantee that soldiers would not be put at risk. They also wanted to expand the goals of the test.
"To preserve the validity of this assessment and evaluation on soldier performance, the Army decided to equip the unit with all types of lighter equipment simultaneously rather than in a piecemeal fashion," an Army spokesman told the newspaper.
The outcome of the tests could guide decisions on equipping the thousands of additional troops that are being sent to Afghanistan this year, according to the report.