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US Army Patents New Blast Debris Protective Harness

This press release from the Army discusses a new take on the Protective Over Garment or POG program.  The commercial items they issued in the past, would be displaced by the negative pressure wave preceding the blast and frag wave.  Consequently, they weren’t as effective as they could have been.  I’m told this new system is a much closer fit, so it won’t move during a blast.


Engineers and designers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, have patented a blast debris protective harness. The harness is worn outside the pants and hugs the body without hindering movement. (Photo Credit: David Kamm)

Granted, it looks complicated in this photo, but it will make sense once you see it actually being worn in the next photo.

Below is the full Army story.

NATICK, Mass. — Engineers and designers at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have patented a new design for a harness that protects its wearer from blast debris.

Worn outside the pants, the harness is designed to protect the groin and femoral artery and prevent debris from embedding in and around the groin. Such injuries can be so severe that repeated surgeries are often needed to remove the debris, leading to extreme discomfort as well as health and hygiene issues. The harness has also been adapted to provide fragmentation protection.

Project lead Kristine Isherwood said NSRDEC began designing the piece of equipment after a joint urgent operational needs statement was issued for blast debris protection, while the Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment looked for commercial off-the-shelf solutions.

“The protection that existed before was letting debris in because it wasn’t fitted close enough to the body,” said Cara Tuttle, an NSRDEC clothing designer and design lead. “Soldiers weren’t wearing it often enough, and it didn’t come down inside of the leg to protect the femoral artery.”

Before arriving at the harness design, NSRDEC considered several others, including under-trouser, within-trouser, and over-trouser designs. The ultimate design for the harness uses multiple layers of Kevlar that alternate as they overlap.

“A layer overlaps in one direction, then the next layer overlaps in the opposite direction, and it keeps alternating,” Tuttle said. “This creates a better barrier for small [debris fragments], which would have to zig zag through all these layers to get through.”

The resulting design hugs the body without hindering movement or range of motion. Project engineers partnered with NSRDEC’s Human Factors and Anthropology teams to achieve the snug fit. The design makes use of adjustable straps and buckles that allow for easy doffing and donning.

“It was challenging to add layers and area of coverage without impacting movement,” said Isherwood. “Whether you had to climb in a window or kneel, [the harness] needed to stay in place, but also allow full range of motion. The uniqueness of this design is that it’s stable but moves with you.”

Tuttle, who worked in the apparel industry for a number of years before coming to Natick, and Isherwood say they are dedicated to improving the quality of life and safety of the warfighter.

“There is nothing in the [apparel] industry quite like what we do here at Natick,” Tuttle said. “We are helping to protect the men and women who are protecting our country. Our work … has the potential to save lives.”

“[Our Soldiers] are volunteering to be put in harm’s way,” Isherwood said. “So anything I can do to protect them without compromising their effectiveness is the goal. That’s what we are trying to do every day.”

As with many protective items developed by NSRDEC, the innovation is expected to benefit the not just the warfighter, but also may, in the future, be licensed for use by first responders.

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22 Responses to “US Army Patents New Blast Debris Protective Harness”

  1. TurboMech says:

    That will literally stop nothing. Someone was just big a good idea fairy

  2. Joe says:

    Cue “POG” vs “pogue” debate and diaper jokes

  3. Rob371 says:

    I’m all for developing new PPE if people WANT to use it. The problem is if you’re big army you will be forced to wear it regardless of end user feedback. No CDR can risk being the guy with common sense to allow soldier flexibility for mission. The line of mitigation vs aversion no longer exists. Hey, maybe it’s super comfortable and cooling, but the thought of patrolling, moving to contact etc. wearing it does not sound exciting. Guess I’ll have to keep an open mind. At least it’s something you can throw on someone’s face after mission when they’re laying on a cot, haha.

    • Explosive Hazard says:

      its not really meant for the normal dismounted operations up and down the mountains of Afghanistan nor raids or anything of the sort. Its more meant for those conducting route clearance on foot. Where stepping on a pressure plate IED is far more likely. I wore the Crye Precision diaper when I did dismounted route clearance ops because the movement is slow, I’m focusing on finding IED’s and if I do step on one and it blows my legs off but I still survive, I at least want my dick and balls in tact. If I lost those but was still living I would probably kill myself. So this new system is even better than the old one as it offers a little more protection while still providing good range of motion. At least according to Natick. Bottom line, the next time I do dismounted route clearance you can bet that I’ll be wearing one of these.

      • Bill says:

        There is a need for it but as Rob371 said there will be troops forced to wear these in operations not best suited for their use.

        It comes down to two things:

        1) Training. Most troops are thrown gear but never really told how to use it. A good example is ECWCS, I can’t tell you how many times I found troops wearing cammies under the gortex because LT said that’s the uniform. Unfortunately they were cold because ECWCS was specifically designed to not have any orgAnic clothing layers. If you did you tended to get cold, or worse.

        2) Ego. Most senior enlisted and officers would be damned if someone was going to tell them how to dress their troops. Even if it went against design of the gear by god you better do as I say. A good example is the 1st LT that had us wasting ammo trying to zero PAQ-4’s. He wouldn’t listen, we weren’t zeroed and to the CO’s credit, he made that LT zero all those guns alone the next night.

      • Rob371 says:

        Good point man. I’ve transitioned away from ground pounding so I really don’t have a dog in the fight. It seems like a good product for a dude with a wolfhound etc. I guess my cynicism gets the best of me because the first thing I think about when I see new PPE is a memo that starts “Whoever 6 sends…” Mandating what I will and will not have on me outside the wire. I watched the good idea fairy stack more and more PPE on joes during early OIF that it got to the point were we could barely do our job. You’re right about the range of motion. Good step in the right direction. Whatever keeps my “Castle” elements safer, I’m all for it.

      • Bill says:

        Major props to you, sir. I’m not in and have no clue as to the politics of equipment issue and mandatory use in the .mil sector, but it works for you and makes your job safer and meets your needs, I hope you get everything you need and want.

  4. jbgleason says:

    What is up with Natick using rubber guns in their product photos? I would assume they have access to an actual M4 and, if not, just don’t put one in the photo. But the rubber rifle looks stupid.

    • Blake Swanson says:

      Because then they would need safety procedures they don’t need to bother with when handling a dummy? What would it change when the gun isn’t the subject?

    • straps says:

      Lots of places, opening an arms room is now a Thing.

      During the MDMP for the IO effort, it was proven there’s literally no way for a PPE photo to be hooah(!) so nobody needed to be tasked to write a FRAGO for access to the arms room.

  5. Tech says:

    as an EOD tech I guess I have pretty mixed feelings about this, but in general I don’t want to wear it.

    Mostly, all I can think about is whether or not it will cause chafing and how much more difficult it’s going to make taking a leak on the go.

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      Tech,

      I was thinking the same thing. Much like getting into a parachute harness…you had better relieve yourself just before you put it on. Because otherwise two minutes later you will really, really need to piss.

      It also looks like you would have to hold this thing up with one hand and do the rest single handed and in the blind. It can be done but would be annoying the second or third time you have to do it.

      And you will be doing it often – assuming you are hydrating like you should. Despite the protection it provides I don’t think this will be popular unless you are actually doing a mission like Explosive Hazard describes.

      TLB

  6. Non-operator says:

    Looks like chafe city

  7. tactical care bby gibs da succ says:

    looks god awful.

  8. Terry says:

    Tactical Chaps.

  9. CWG says:

    By the time dudes are wearing this downrange it will have four mini E sapis in it.

    Looks more effective than the battle diaper though.

  10. GoBliNuke says:

    Diapers to the battlefield!
    Looking forward for second, improved, version.

  11. Riceball says:

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to build these flak diapers into the trousers? It would, theoretically, reduce encumbrance and restrictions in movement and, if designed properly, allow the wearer to make a head call much quicker and easier.

  12. some other joe says:

    I was involved in forward assessments of the predecessors (you’re welcome). As someone else commented, proper fielding and training is imperative. Units that got it and had command emphasis to wear it loved it. They saw firsthand what happens when Joe Snuffy and his Jundi partner got blown up. The surgeons basically said the system, including the undergarment, meant the difference between them amputating at the knee or the hip because of infections. The undergarment and proper fitting mitigate the chafing. As one specialist reported, “It keeps my cash and prizes safe.” (Yep, that went into the official report.)

    And then there were units that didn’t get a proper fielding. One platoon used the system, sort of, because the platoon leader found a garbage bag full of it stuffed in the back of a milvan. 10 months into the deployment. When he got the additional duty of company supply officer when the XO was relieved. Needless to say, his troops didn’t have the right sizes. Or the three sets of undergarments. Or time to figure out how to integrate the system four months before deploying. So the command didn’t mandate use said that’s it’s here if you want it. Consequently, there was no enthusiastic buy-in by greater than 95% of the responding Soldiers.