Soldiers have long been known to sit on their helmets and/or Kevlar vests to provide extra protection for their nether regions. However, that may be a thing of the past after the Marine Corps recent request for 27,500 pairs of "ballistic undergarments". That's right: bulletproof underwear.
"I MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) and 10th Mountain Division forces are sustaining significant injuries to the genital, perinea, and femoral artery areas as a result of combat operations and improvised explosive devices," a recent Marine Corps solicitation reads. "The loss of forces due to these types of injuries has a significant impact on the unit's combat effectiveness and their ability to sustain operations. Based on analysis in theater, ballistic underwear will drastically improve casualty recovery and reduce secondary infections."
These heavy-duty skivvies, which look like bike shorts, will help protect soldiers from low-angle explosions commonly associated with improvised explosive devises (IEDs) and landmines. The need for mobility often leaves soldiers' groins unprotected by traditional body armour. And since the groin contains many arteries, injuries sustained in that area can result in life-threatening blood loss and ghastly infections.
While the undies won't withstand point-blank hits from bullets or shrapnel, they will help mitigate wounds by blocking small blast particles that often cause additional damage.
Made from a special double weave silk, the ballistic underwear contain an antimicrobial treatment that will help reduce the risk of wounds becoming infected.
The Marine corps $2 million order will be filled by Cooneen Watt & Stone, a company that supplies the British armed forces with similar ballistic underwear.
Credit: UK Ministry of Defense