If you are looking for Team Rubicon, click here
This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flak Jacket

Our new flak jackets arrived!!!! (fake enthusiasm)

Never mind the fact that we were promised them last February when we began combat operations in Iraq. Hey, better late than never right? Right?

Actually, I'm not going to sit here and say that our lack of new flak jackets lost the war for us last year. But, it is annoying to always hear about all this great new stuff we're going to get, only to have the field issue of the gear hit delay after delay. The new flak has some great features, it has a better cut and fit, it has more MOLLE integration, it has a rapid release emergency feature that allows it to be immediately removed off a casualty, and it has a cumber bun design that helps take some of the weight off the shoulders and put it on your hips. Not bad.

I'm sure the Army could have snapped their fingers and gotten them within weeks. Actually, they probably would have received the second generation improved version before the first one was even off the line...

The gear swap did mean that I had to scrub, wash, launder and shower out 7 months worth of the Zaidon that had been hitchhiking on my old flak. We're talking mud, blood, tar, dirt, sand, food, manure, etc. GOOD TIMES.

Want to know the very bestest news though?? And this is for real, the story goes like this...

I spend a few good hours cleaning my flak. I get it all together and ready to take in. I arrive at the issue facility and get in line. Then stand in line. For a very, very long time. You see, civilians run the issue facility, and civilians like their lunch breaks, and their coffee breaks, and cigarette breaks. They like to tell you that you need to scrub the rest of that tar off your yoke collar, or that your vest isn't dry enough. They also like small staffs.

I finally reach the front of the line. A nice young lady is helping me. I ask "Hey, I heard that these new flaks were going to come in a wider variety of sizes, like tall." She said I was was crazy. So, being in the sour mood that I was in, I said, "Great, looks like I get to deploy to Iraq for another combat deployment with my stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, liver and spine once again exposed to mortar frag, grenades, gun shot wounds and IED blasts." (you see, they DONT have flaks in tall sizes, so all last deployment mine stopped right above my belly button...awesome).

Well, to cut a long story short, she had sympathy for me and called her manager over. The manager said that they would take down my measurements and fax them to the company that makes the flaks and have them make me a custom one. DAAAANNNG.

Now I'm just waiting to see if it comes out of my next pay check.


  1. It sounds like you don't take flak from just anyone :)

  2. As a former Guardsmen and military historian wannabe, and former supplier of all things computer to the federal government, I understand some of both sides.

    The reason it takes so long for the delivery of equipment is as you pointed out, the lack of motivation of civillian federal employees, who know that no matter what speed they move at, they have a job, and they develop and attitude where any negativism from a soldier is pushed back with harder negativism from the worker (and I use the term, "worker" with reservation), and your action of pushing a little more was the right response.

    They spot weakness in a soldier in a heartbeat, and milk it for everything it is worth, to boost their egos a little to convince themself that working in a military sweatshop is not some form of hell. Those that aren't immigrants are either in the protective witness program or are spouses of soldiers, and they transfer the frustration they have with having a soldier husband who is also a jerk to the soldier in line waiting for a hat that fits, and boots that fit, and protective gear that fits.

    The other delay is, when a contractor wins a contract, even if they can deliver the goods immediately, the equipment cannot be used until all losing bidding entrants do not challenge the awarding of the contract.

    I am just guessing, but I suspect part of the delay in new protective gear was the stink about dragon skin, or whatever that alternative gear is called.

  3. Dude, if it took that long for a generic to be made, how long will it take for a custom job???

  4. Jake,

    if a custom fit jacket is available on the commercial market, I will personally write a check and order it for you.

  5. Thank you for the offer, but that is not necessary at all (we're also not authorized to wear non-issued protective equipment)

  6. One other thing to note is that the Corps always does more with less.

    We as Marines were (and I see still are) always at the back of the supply line. Couple of examples:

    Chosin; the reason we took all the Army gear on the way out and repainted it with USMC was because what they abandoned was newer and better.

    Viet Nam; We were using M-1's and M-14's long after the M-16 was added to Army inventory. (Newer, not better)

    Grenada; we landed and rampaged our way through Grenada with WWII Steel pots on our heads when the Army was hunkered down at the airport in their Kevlar.

    In Desert Shield/Storm my unit didn't get our desert pattern camis until 2 weeks before we crossed the border.

    So you are just experiencing another fine tradition of the Corps. :)

  7. Also, don't forget the Air Force has probably received the new flak jackets about a week after they were approved...OhhRah

  8. There used to be a saying, and it was said quite often back when I was doing the 03walklots thing.

    "We, the Marines, have been doing so much with so little for so long we are now prepared to do the impossible with nothing at all."

    And "If the Army aint broke it, we aint got it."

    And "Thank God for unattended US Army gear."

    I know its not funny when it's yourself having to deal with that bullshit.

  9. my favorite

    "If it ain't broke, it ain't ours"

    Semper Fi Marine.

  10. How about USMC maintenance protocol?

    First option: Hit it with a hammer.
    If that doesn't work, go to second option.

    Second option: Hit it with a bigger hammer.

  11. I have a news flash for you. I am about to go out and test a new vest to replace the ones you just received. Talk about a huge waste of money. Rest assured that the size concerns you have I have as well. I am 73 inches tall and not only can I not fit in a flack correctly I stuck out of my AAV turret exposed to sniper fire and IED blasts every time I left the wire. Working on the new generation of warhorses (the EFV) I have discovered that designing to military standards means only factoring in the 5th to 95th Percentile male/female. With that said if you are over 6 ft tall then you are not factored in to the design equation. My advice to you for your short flack jacket problem is, keep a shorter buddy near by to protect those exposed parts. SEMPER FI!