The United States Army is currently testing the Modular Scalable Vest (MSV) as part of the Soldier Protection System, the new era of body armor and other personal protective equipment. Soldiers in Fort Carson, Colorado conducted a weeklong series of field tests in October, demonstrating the full potential of the MSV.

The armor upgrade represents a “good news story” in military spending. The Pentagon is still in dire need of an audit, which it has never had, and needs fiscal accountability more than a Leftist needs a safe space. But this story represents a bright light in the chasm of F-35 cost overruns, fuel account slush funds, and scandals like Fat Leonard.

Current Armor

The MSV is a replacement for the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV); it includes soft Kevlar inserts as well as ballistic plates on the front, rear, and sides. The Kevlar inserts are capable of stopping 9mm rounds, and the plates are capable of preventing penetration from a 7.62mm bullet in both NATO and Soviet variation.

A medium vest with plates weighs just over 30 pounds and can carry a variety of pouches and add-ons using the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS). PALS is a horizontal grid of woven loops attached to the vest; pouches can be added by weaving straps through the webbing and snapping them shut. This system allows the vest to be modular in its configuration (although most units will dictate a standard of pouch configuration).

Upgrades in Fit and Function

The MSV carries the same modular nature of the IOTV, but the entire system is lighter and more maneuverable. The medium vest, when fully configured, weighs 25 pounds. If five pounds doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, ask anyone who has been on a foot patrol in full kit. Every ounce counts.

Soldiers testing the MSV have stated that it is not only lighter, but has a superior range of motion and is more breathable. Specialist Isaac Bocanegra, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, involved in testing, hailed the new body armor:

 “I currently wear the IOTV about twice each day and it is quite a bit heavier than this body armor. Having this new body armor would make my job so much easier.”

The new armor is also scalable to fit mission requirements, hence the name. At the lowest level of protection, the soft inner armor may be used as concealable body armor. The next tier includes protective plates. The third tier includes the vest, soft armor, and plates. The final tier includes the previous vest configuration with the addition of a ballistic shirt that comes complete with neck, shoulder, and pelvic protection.

The MSV also includes the quick-release feature of the IOTV, which allows the wearer to quickly remove the armor in an emergency situation, such as falling into a canal or escaping a vehicle fire.

Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA

The Modular Scalable Vest is part of a more extensive system of protective gear that proves to be a boon to the warfighter’s survivability. While designing a body armor upgrade may not be the largest of governmental projects, this one appears to be operating within standard fiscal parameters unlike the the F-35 debacle.

When it comes to projects, especially taxpayer-funded ones, the Pentagon has an issue of scope creep. For those unfamiliar with project management principles, scope creep is when the purpose of the project continues to grow as the project continues, resulting in cost and scheduling overruns. Sound familiar? Because of the competitive rank structure of the military, many senior officers are looking to “make their mark” on the organization and guarantee their future success. This, unfortunately, results in pet projects that either go nowhere or are replaced soon after their installment.

The Pentagon needs to take better care of which projects it funds and determine who the project is really helping: the warfighter or the careerist?

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Nathan Steelwater

Military Affairs Correspondent at

Nathan is a writer, editor, and technical advisor working in the Richmond, Virginia area. With over a decade of experience and careful study in military, national security, and strategic topics, Nathan has provided his expertise for novel and film projects as a technical advisor. When he isn't writing for Liberty Nation he can be found chasing after his children or preparing for his next triathlon.

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