Hogan's Alley

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Study: Better Body Armor Would Have Prevented 80% Of Marine Deaths In Iraq

According to a Pentagon report obtained by the NY Times, based on a study of 93 Marines who died in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2005, 80% of those who died would not have died if they were issued the improved body armor that has been available since 2003 but not purchased by the military. The article does note that since the issuance of the report the Marines have begun issuing this armor and the Army is studying the exact size of the armor it wants to purchase.

Nothing in the article specifies why the 93 Marine deaths were chosen for the study, although the clear presumption of the piece is that these deaths were in every way typical. Let's think this through. If these deaths were in most ways like most of the total of over 2000 deaths suffered so far in Iraq, then the implication is that only 400 or so of our soldiers should have been lost.

This strikes me as highly suspect. So many kids have died as the result of IED's blowing up the vehicles they were riding in and would have been less likely to have benefited from upper body armor. The force of and IED explosion comes from below. Perhaps Marines are more frequently killed in firefights in which they are hit by bullets fired at their upper bodies. Plainly more information is needed before any conclusion can be drawn.

The saving of any lives is worth the expense of improved armor and every effort should be made to learn from these postmortem studies to save as many soldiers as possible. At the same time, let's not let this become yet another exaggerated cudgel used by the left to beat up the Pentagon.