Yep, its true...can't make this stuff up. The US Military is going to follow the brits lead and start issuing new ballistic undies made of silk and kevlar to protect the groin, lower abdomen and upper leg regions from minor blast related effects of explosions such as those encountered with IED and suicide bomber blasts. The new undies will not stop bullets or major fragments. They will help stop the penetration of smaller "spall" fragments and dirt and sand from being pushed into the body after being propelled from a blast. Depending on the distance from the blast these secondary projective wounds can range from a mild "strawberry" type rash wounding to more serious injuries that carry the risk of infection from contaminates found in the soil of those areas.
CNN Article on the subject US Troops to get better helmets and "ballistic boxers"
The Brits have been wearing them successfully for a while so the Army is just going to adopt theirs and field them as quickly as possible. It appears the USMC, in typical Marine fashion, will take their time and probably pick a better product...something you can do I guess when you only have about 1/4 the number of folks to equip as the Army does.
But why underwear? When I was in I wore underwear in two basic modes. The first was the basic brown brief style (tighty whiteys....or is it tighty brownies?) in the Winter and Fall, even under the polypro sets of long underwear we were issued. In the late Spring and Summer I would normally "go commando" sans anything at all, and that was a pretty popular choice. The BDU's at the time had a double thick seat in the pants and a flap of material behind the button fly to keep your bits and pieces from peeking through.
I know what your thinking....sexy, right?
If you think about it the Army at the beginning of a war never looks the same as the one at the end. The need for innovation, invention and adoption scales dramatically for the military when bullets are actually flying. The Army that existed at the outset of WW2 largely still used bolt action rifles, wore campaign hats and had officers and NCO's in the field with khaki pants and shirts on. The Army that emerged victorious in 1945 had both cotton and wool field uniforms and was armed with the most advanced (at its time) battle rifle in the world. The bigging of Vietnam saw US personnel in uniforms basically left over from the WW2 and Korean era with M14 's. The one that emerged over a decade later had dedicated jungle uniforms and were armed with the M16. Same hold true for this conflict. When I deployed in 2006 the US Army had already made several changes and were issuing protective items that would of seemed strange only a decade earlier...
- Each troop was issued a new ACH, or advanced combat helmet to replace the familiar PASGT kevlar helmet..which itself had replaced the venerable "steel pot"
- Each troop was issued IBA body armor that had the ability to not only carry ballistic plates but also additional panels to protect the front of the groin (the aptly named "pecker proector"), the upper arms, throat and sides of the ribcage.
- We were given new earplugs that were supposed to protect our hearing while allowing us to communicate as well.
- We were given nomex aviator gloves to protect against both abrasion and heat related hazards from both the sun and thermal damage from IED blasts.
- Eye armor was also issued from such "cool" companies as Oakly and Revision.
- We went from being issued a first aid "kit" which was little more than a woman's maxi-pad with a tail to a mostly complete blow out kit with some extras.
- Hydration systems were rapidly introduced by Camelbak and others into the supply system to combat the constant threat of dehydration over in the desert.
All of this protection added up to a sizable difference in the life expectancy of the average troop on the line. TBI, or traumatic brain injury, became a new field of study for military doctors due to the nature of IED blasts. Amputees became another familiar site partially due to the new methods of battlefield medicine coupled with the improved body armor were keeping more soldiers alive even after the loss of a limb. Bottom line, the protective measures we now employ in preventing normally life threatening injuries to the head and torso have now made injuries to other, how should I put this, "sensitive" areas more in focus now.
There is always some ware story told by some poor guy who gets shot, blown up or otherwise injured where he talks about the first thing he does is grab for the old family jewels to make sure that they are still there. Come to think about it, your genitals are not only physically pretty vulnerable but also psychologically very vulnerable and one of the items that our current transplant and prosthesis technology really cannot truly replace. More importantly as the article points out, kevlar will be used to help protect the femoral artery, which can cause death by bleeding if severed within minutes.
There are stories of female snipers that the Russians used in WW2 that took great pleasure in shooting German soldiers in the groin. This was done not only to kill and wound the target, but to promote terror in the advancing Germans who followed them and saw their fellow soldat lying on the ground trying to stem the bleeding from where his penis once was.
So lets give some thanks to the makers of this new wonder undies for providing our troops with yet another form of protection to bring them home healthy...and happy..from these distant conflicts.
And now for a video of a soldier being nut shot by simunitions....