Today’s soldiers require advanced capabilities to be effective on future battlefields. Advances in technology have produced better weapon optics, imaging devices, and body armor, as well as many other types of specialized protective and offensive gear. Body armor that could protect soldiers against rifle fire, for example, was not available during World War II, the Korean War, or Operation Desert Storm. Today’s soldiers have body armor that includes front, rear, and side ballistic plates to protect them against small-arms fire, as well as flexible groin and collar panels that provide protection against shrapnel and debris. While the body armor provides an added lifesaving layer of protection for soldiers, it weighs 30 pounds.
On average, a soldier carries at least 60 pounds of gear, but that weight often doubles, depending on the length of the mission and the soldier’s job. A 72-hour mission in Afghanistan, for example, requires an airborne soldier to carry seven types of batteries that collectively weigh 16 pounds to power optics, flashlights, night vision devices, GPS, and a radio. In addition to the base uniform, a soldier wears protective gloves, boots, and glasses, as well as body armor and a helmet.