The muscles of the milblogosphere flex again debunking another myth. The claim was made that SOCOM and MacDill AFB had issued a directive forbidding the wearing of personal body armor.
On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.
"We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply." he said.
The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action "could" be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.
As of this report Saturday morning the Army has not yet responded to a DefenseWatch inquiry.
I just got a message back from the SOCOM Public Affairs Office less than 4 hours after pinging them.
First, as you are probably aware, I cannot comment on and do not know what the Army or Marine Corps policies are on body armor. I can only provide you information about Special Operations Forces.
I have talked to all of the approriate people and no one is aware of any directive that went out of USSOCOM headquarters last week that addressed the subject of body armor, much less prohibited the use of commercial body armor. Neither is anyone familiar with any statement made about service members losing their SGLI death benefits if they are wearing commercial body armor at the time of their death. There is no such USSOCOM policy about SGLI.Additionally, Special Operations Forces do not use the Interceptor OTV body armor that you discussed in the DefenseWatch piece. Special Operations Forces use the Body Armor Load Carriage System (BALCS).