These are some of the latest emails from troops in Afghanistan. Combat effectiveness, performance and safety are all being degraded by the poorly engineered/produced helmet pads now being issued by the military. The cost would be minimal to issue every single warrior in Afghanistan with the more wearable, comfortable, protective helmet pads that we now buy and send in response to individual requests.
Do any of you have contacts in PEO Soldier or Marine Corps Systems Commands that they believe would listen to reason and put this problem to rest? I can’t get so much as an email or return telephone call from them.
30 July 2014: Thank you very much for such a quick reply to my request. I know that these new pads will be quite the blessing to me and my team. The issues with the current pads vary greatly from user to user but the one common issue that we all have is that they are extremely uncomfortable, and they have extremely poor construction. In the 8 years I have been in the Army, I have gone through approximately 16-20 sets of helmet pads. Some are defective from the minute I put them in my helmet, some just degrade over a few months but in all of them, the exterior covering peels off and the then exposed inner foam begins to come apart. The pads also create hot spots on the head that can cause head aches within minutes of putting the helmet on. This causes many issues and leads soldiers to take off their helmet every single time they get a chance. This can also slow down / delay the mission as soldiers are concentrating on the pain they are in and not the mission at hand. The icing on the cake is that the pads we all currently use, smell absolutely horrible, after just one use, and it does not get better with time. Because of the smell soldiers take them out to clean them and the lining starts coming off. Thus the never ending cycle starts yet again. SGT, US Army, Special Ops.
30 July 2014: Being the small team we are, everyone has their part. For example Some of the staff officers are gunners and or drivers. Adjusting the helmet in any situation could be detrimental to the mission, especially for reaction time on the roadway with traffic. We travel through a city multiple times a week to get to our destination for advising. The people here put the drivers in New York City to shame. Headaches caused by pads can have a chain reaction effect that could be dangerous to the personnel in the vehicle as well as the ones outside. It is not easy to maneuver or stop one of these MAT-V’s on a dime if there is an issue or a distraction of a adjustment needed due to a headache caused by the pads. Let alone the incapacitation of a soldier if the pain is that severe to migraine level that they can’t complete the mission. Hope this helps. If you need anything further let me know. I actually am the main CROW gunner for the team controlling the .50 so we do a variety of tasks. LTC, US Army
7 July 2014: The pads are extremely stiff and when installed in my medium ACH creates several pressure points and hotspots. Not only that but they make my helmet sit up off my head. Looks quite ridiculous and flops around. The worst is sweat drips down into my eyes and when my night vision is attached the whole front of the helmet drops down over my eyebrows. Highly combat ineffective.. SSG, US Army