Daily Dose: Boxers, Briefs or Ballistics?

With bin Laden now out of the picture one might think it’s high time to pull out of Afghanistan. However, it’s definitely not as easy as it might sound to some, and the situation is always more complex than what we are able to observe stateside. Whatever the case may be, it would appear the Pentagon seems to be hunkering down for at least a little while longer as they have recently been in the market for some new underwear…wait, what?

Yes, you heard correctly. New undergarments for US Troops in Afghanistan, and they don’t make them any better than this. As Al Kamen reports in a recent Washington Post articled entitled:

Ballistic Underwear for Troops in Afghanistan

“An Army marches on its stomach,” said Napoleon , or maybe it was Frederick the Great . But the Marines in Afghanistan will soon, one would hope very soon, be marching more safely — in their new ballistic underwear, designed to better protect them from injuries from improvised explosive devices.

The Pentagon this month put out a rush order solicitation, spotted by our colleague Walter Pincus, for “27,500 ballistic undergarments” for $2 million, noting that “ballistic underwear is currently being used by British forces” in Afghanistan “and they have significantly less injuries” to their privates as a result.

The new undergarments are made of a double-weave silk, and are by no means bullet-proof, but they do protect against small particles and fragments from minor blasts. A small addition that could easily be the difference between life and death.

Personally, I think this is pretty cool. If it’s actually going to better protect our troops, and bring more of them back safely, then I fully support the addition to the military ensemble. But then again, maybe this is just another example of the type of government spending we’re trying to avoid in order to bring ourselves out of massive debt. Does pricey underwear really make that big of a difference on top of all the other protective gear our troops already wear (Just to be clear, I’m no expert in this area- just hypothesizing)? Yeah, $2 million is a small drop in the pool that is the US budget, but still…2 million bucks is 2 million bucks, right?

What do you think?


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Stephanie Slade

This reminds me of the episode of The West Wing where Commander Jack Reese demolishes the $300 ash tray to show Donna how it breaks into three blunt pieces. That may not seem important in the civilan world, but if a ship is under attack, you don’t want glass shards from a shattered ash tray putting your captain (or anyone else) out of commission…

Deb Green

Let’s not think about this as “Why is Uncle Sam buying undies” but rather what is more cost effective in the long run. Medical care payments, VA disability payments (what *is* the disability rating for getting fragged in the “stuff” anyway?) add up to much, much more in the long run than $75 for underwear. Consider it a preventative investment for Uncle Sam.

Candace Riddle

I agree with Deb. A small investment by uncle sam to avoid long-term costs. Nonetheless, I would love to see the statistics that were mentioned in the article, “the British have less injury”. Obviously someone is keeping track of how many injuries to “the stuff” are occuring.

In my opinion we should take every measure necessary to protect our boots on the ground. They are doing a great job and deserve to have the latest and greatest protective gear.

Aaron Lokote Jones

I would welcome ballistic underwear if they perform the proper testing. I know many types of fire retardant underwear cause me a rash on my thighs and legs. I have to be very careful what I wear but I would much rather suffer a rash instead of some sort of traumatic injury. I have also seen level IIIA ballistic athletic cups for sale and have thought about purchasing myself one out of pocket. I hope they do this right and provide us with something very good.

Anne Steppe

Heard about the ballistic undies from my hubby and thought he was kidding. Figured it was just another “man joke.” Joke’s on me! It appears there’s just no price too high to protect the family jewels. All joking aside, any protection our soldiers receive as a result of this outlay is money well spent, regardless of the current economy. It’s sad this kind of stuff is necessary in the first place.

Amedee Friestedt

I have a bridge to sell you and could I interest you in $2 mil worth of Emperor’s new clothes? Sorry but I think there is some sports equipment that costs a LOT less and could fill the bill or be modified to do so. Just one person’s opinion.

Faye Newsham

I heard about this about a month ago. CNN had this item:  U.S. troops to bet better helmets and ‘ballistic boxers’ so I looked up to see what else I could find and saw these also: Stripes was talking about it in October of 2010: Ballistic boxes might just save your tail. Others include: ‘Ballistic boxers’ ward off infection and this piece at military.com Corps Fast-Tracks Ballistic Boxers Buy from April.

I can’t find the original piece I saw/heard but recall the interview with a medical guy saying the first thing any guy asks when wounded by a roadside bomb is “how is everything” and very seriously meaning only one thing. From the medical standpoint, the benefit to everyone is the reduction of small particles and infection. I understand that the kevlar plates available to add to them can also reduce femoral artery damage which is a big reason a lot of soldiers die. I would hope the US would see their way clear to spending even more the $100 a pair for those kinds of results.

Thomas K. Perri

We need to support our Troops in the ways that are meaningful to them also, no joke here ballistic underwear is a great idea, if you don’t think it is, you don’t know enough about what it is to put your Family Jewels on the line for your Country. Talk to some veterens that have come back from in country, (the war) ask them about the things that are important to them and why. If you are fortunate you may find someone willing to talk about their experiences.

Jason MacGregor

Unless I’m mistaken (which happens occaisonally…), this is actually a very old idea updated for the modern battle field. The Mongols (as in Genghis Khan not motorcylcle gang…) used silk shirts under their leather armour. The idea was that arrows would easily pirce and pass through the leather armour but could not pierce the silk shirt underneath becasue of the tight weave of the silk. As such the arrow would still penetrate the warrior but did not do as much damage and was easily removed by pulling on the silk shirt making it easy to treat the wound.

I may be looking at it from a historical perspective but it sounds feasible to me, most IED shrapnel would be stopped by the silk and be easy to remove on the battle field to make it easier to treat the wound plus they would be nice and comfy… great idea, wish I thought of it.

Jay Johnson

@Stephanie – that West Wing reference was the first thing I thought of too. 🙂

Let’s not forget the intangible benefit of our troops realizing that we care about their wellbeing. Sure to be a big morale booster.