Either due to propaganda or because of what we see in the movies, there is a strange idea that army body armor and gear, in general, is better than anything we could find in on the market. In most cases, private operators can be geared better than an average soldier.
What is portrayed in the media might be true for some top-level army operators that have missions crucial to the security of the Union itself. But, as most veterans on the ground have experienced, regular army-issue gear isn’t that amazing.
Legally, you can wear army body armor with no problems. But you should ask yourself three questions before trying to match the gear someone would wear when deployed:
- It is appropriate to your mission?
- Are you working with a similar infrastructure?
- Do you have more optimal options?
And these questions are ranked by importance in this exact order.
There is such a thing as over-gearing, as having too much gear and armor can be detrimental for your mission. To take an extreme example, if you are working in domestic public-venue security you don’t want to be in full army gear as if you are patrolling Fallujah.
The patrons, customers, or residents will be spooked by the fact that security is brandishing flash-bangs and M15s and the local police will probably be called to ask you to leave your post as a public disturbance.
Two Schools of Thought
There are two schools of thought when it comes to armor that is both equally valid but rarely seems to understand each other.
The first are the ones swearing that more means less when it comes to armor. For them, if you are light and mobile you won’t get shot in the first place which is preferable to having armor protect you.
For them, something like the UPC Ultralight Plate Carrier seems more than enough to keep you alive, just in case.
While this is true, there are many situations where you don’t know that an attack is about to happen. Being mobile doesn’t mean much if you don’t know that you need to move, or don’t know where the attacker is.
The second group believes that ‘’the more the merrier’’ when it comes to armor. For them, if you gear yourself up your will be prepared for any situation and will be more flexible with your response.
Even when going light, these operators will prefer something like the LPC Light Plate Carrier that can be augmented with auxiliary armor modules and other gear to make you prepared for any risk in the field.
This is also reasonable but doesn’t account for situations where your best action will be to leave or take cover. Especially in offensive missions, every second count, as well as every ounce.
It is much better to protect yourself by making the enemy unable to shoot than allowing them to shoot and hoping they won’t hit a gap in your armor.
Better Options for Private Operators
The US Army alone has roughly 480.000 active-duty members and the USAF as whole numbers more than 2 million people. With those numbers, the optimal solution is rarely taking the most expensive and newest gear.
Additionally, for those deployed abroad there is usually a whole infrastructure of communications, maintenance, and resupply that the individual soldier doesn’t need to think about.
For private operators, especially domestically, there is no point in using radio-communication and satellite video links when you have your smartphone that can do both things better and cheaper.
Additionally, you don’t need to think about large budgets, only the benefit of your specific operators and how they will accomplish the mission. Unlike the army, you can have multiple different setups, including vests, plates, and other gear.