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If you are interested in this article, then you have probably seen the movie War Dogs. And, if you saw him, you could not ignore the words of one of the main characters, who says that the average cost of equipment for an American soldier is $ 17,500. This moment for people obsessed with weapons, hunting, and weapon optic devices always works as a trigger. Even an ordinary person who has nothing to do with the army, guns, and night vision devices will be intrigued by the question of whether this information corresponds to reality.
Indeed you have started looking for confirmation or refutation of this information on the Internet, forums, and Reddit and Quora. And, indeed you did not find a reliable and straightforward answer to the question: how much does soldier equipment cost? We too.
Remembering the rule that we decided to understand this issue if you want to do something good, do it yourself. But, we are not so interested in testing this myth. We are not too interested in giving an unambiguous answer. Is it true that it costs $ 17,500 to outfit the average US Soldier? We decided to look at the issue more broadly and challenge ourselves. Today we will disassemble the equipment of a modern American warrior, look at the average prices of equipment from sunglasses to night vision goggles, look back and try to find the answer to how expensive it is to dress and equip a fighter of the best army in the world.
From the very beginning of their existence, people have been waging wars permanently between themselves, between tribes, with neighbors. War has always been close to humanity. And, many scientists believe that this destructive feature has influenced the evolutionary development of us all.
Wars have taken an increasing place in people's lives. The development of civilization raised the stakes and required innovation to gain an advantage over rivals. So the army began its transformation. From the primitive tribes, where everyone who could hold a weapon was a warrior, there was a gradual and confident division of responsibilities and the allocation of soldiers to a particular group. That was most evident in Ancient India and Ancient Egypt, where soldiers were separated into a separate caste. In ancient Greece and Sparta, military service was also a kind of privilege, at least until the war was in full swing.
Segregation and the appropriation of certain specific attributes to people who have the right to bear arms and classify themselves as paramilitary formations only emphasized elitism and selectivity, calling for special treatment for such people.
The same approach was practiced in ancient Rome. With the beginning of the formation of Rome as an Empire comes the understanding of all the advantages of regular troops. At the same time, there is a demand for the unification of tactics and the order of command of the army, and the recruitment of fighters. The role and benefits of an organized, managed, and well-equipped combat unit becomes apparent to all. Defeats from the Germanic tribes, of course, did not become a positive advertisement for the model of the Roman army. Still, their reasons were not in the organization and equipment of the legionnaires.
The development and continuation of this logic were practiced simultaneously in Europe and Asia, constantly evolving until the twentieth century, when it became clear that the army required a clear structure. The equipment of soldiers should be not only defiantly beautiful but also practical and functional. This was the beginning of a thoughtful and balanced approach to how to recruit a warrior. It was not feathers and multicolored cavalry axelbands that came to the fore, but practical things that helped save one's own life and help eliminate the enemy.
Global things are made up of hundreds, thousands of small details that are not so easy to see at a glance. Such a complex and cumbersome machine as the army is a clear example of this statement, especially if we are talking about the advanced and best military in the world.
Admit it, when you think of the army, the first things that come to mind are aircraft carriers, fighters, bombers, and heavy tanks. It is these things that shape our view of the military as a global phenomenon. Well, of course, people. But, their image is blurred and collective. After all, the US Army is, first and foremost - an important guys and girls who are real heroes of their time. Each of them is worthy of mention and respect. Our scientists know and remember this, so the whole vector of the development of weapons and technology is to develop things that help save the lives and security of our defenders. Everything from sunglasses to combat drones aims to save a soldier's life. We have achieved great success in this. And, now we will prove it.
In the modern history of the United States, several key stages have become turning points and given considerable impetus to the development of military technology. We all know these stages. World War II, the Korean Campaign, the Vietnam War, the Desert Storm, and the attempt to restore order in Afghanistan. If we discard emotions and look at these conflicts in terms of facts, we will see exciting things. We will now look at how strong the effect of a simple fighter's equipment was on loss and efficiency.
Let us begin with the most significant conflict in human history and with the first war, in which our country took part in large-scale and comprehensive participation. In addition to the significant industrial, scientific, and economic involvement, our soldiers who liberated Europe from the Nazis took part in the battles. And they were equipped… not bad.
The cost of equipping a soldier of the ground forces during the war was 170 dollars, which corresponds to approximately 2,500,000 dollars. The soldier, for this money, received a steel helmet with liner, boots, and spats, a combat belt with equipment, and was armed with a standard M1 rifle. The weight of the combat equipment was 35.8 pounds.
We can safely say that our troops were armed and dressed very well. The differences were huge against the background of Soviet troops, which were equipped and armed very poorly. History knows cases when the communists could not arm the soldiers with weapons, so they handed out sticks and called for a gun in battle. In addition, thanks to the lease, the USSR even made buttons, often from material provided by the United States. By the way, we will remind you that neither the Soviet Union nor its successor "superpower" Russia, and didn't pay in full.
But, on the other hand, the ratio of killed to wounded in that bloody meat grinder was incredibly high - 41 percent. This means that there were 2.4 wounded per 1 killed. Given that 11.3 million of our guys fought, these numbers are simply appalling.
The United States would not be the country we love and are proud of if it did not know how to draw conclusions from its mistakes and play ahead. We will miss the conflict in Korea and immediately move on to the heaviest campaign in Vietnam, which has become a point of no return for many industries in the country. But, first of all, it was the quintessential revolution in the army and the paradigm of external security. This period is also characterized by the fact that completing the soldier's equipment has changed significantly.
The result was a reduction in the ratio of killed to wounded to 32 percent (one killed per 3.12 wounded). 2.3 million American guys have gone through hell in the jungle, and frankly, such loss figures are appalling.
Conclusions were made. The army has changed a lot. New technologies and advanced developments began to be introduced. In particular, in that war, they began to use night vision devices actively. The equipment was also improved and became more expensive. Dressing a soldier costs an average of 1,112 dollars, which is equivalent to 8,230 current dollars. The fighter also had a steel helmet with liner, load-carrying equipment, combat boots, and a flak vest. The last addition was a significant improvement, but heavy and restraining armor was often neglected in humid and stuffy climates. However, the total weight of the equipment was less - 35.1 pounds. The armed fighters were M16A1.
Campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown how much modern scientific advances and innovations are integrated into the military sphere. A completely new outfit was created that provided maximum protection combined with relative comfort. In general, there was a reason to say that the United States started ideal equipment for the ground forces and, in the future, partners and enemies were equal to our achievements. In addition, the look of the American fighter has become a classic, firmly embedded in pop culture.
Ergonomics, beauty, and practicality are entirely useless if they cannot save and protect life. And, in terms of statistics, the new type of equipment coped well with these tasks. For 766,000 military personnel, the ratio of killed to wounded was 12 percent, one killed for 8.3 wounded. This is still a lot, too much because, for our country, the loss of even one soldier is irreparable. But compared to the staggering 41 percent in World War II, those numbers don't look so dire.
What was the key to this result? First of all - Kevlar materials, which began to be used for helmets and body armor. Personal protection elements have become lighter and more reliable. In addition, body armor has evolved into systems that protect exposed body areas with removable armor pads. Attention to detail has become a hallmark of equipment designers. For example, attention was paid to the elbows and knees, for which special pads were created. The eyes are also now protected by special glasses, different for different situations. Like the fingers, thanks to fire-retardant gloves. And the legs are relatively comfortable thanks to the lightweight and durable tan combat boots.
A significant breakthrough was the equipment of soldiers with night-vision goggles and thermal vision goggles. These compact devices have become indispensable pieces of equipment for fighters. Thanks to the secure clip-on system, they have attached to a lightweight Kevlar helmet and allow one movement to put the NVD device into working condition. Thanks to advanced optics by the best night vision US manufacturers, our military today proudly proclaims, “We owe the night.”
And it is true. The darkness of the night does not become an obstacle because the warriors have NV goggles, night vision binoculars, and NV monoculars. And in case the night is moonless, or a blizzard interferes with the device - various types of thermal vision devices will not leave the soldiers blind.
Technology is everywhere. Even the standard M4 modular carbine has a wide range of close combat optics. Red-dot rifle scope, adjustable buttstock, grip, collimator sight, gun mount kits, and the same night-vision rifle scope and thermal scope. All this allows you to assemble an individual weapon set for each soldier for any battle.
True, the weight of all equipment inevitably increased, now it is 75.3 pounds, which is understandable. Besides, everything has a price, and the cost of a soldier's safety and comfort is ... Yes, just under $ 17,500, as the protagonist of the War Dogs said. Therefore, we can consider this myth confirmed.
It is not a weapon that shoots. A man shoots. And it is not the numbers on paper and not the chips on the map that are fighting. People are at war and risk. The state has a responsibility to invest in making soldiers more efficient and safer on the battlefield. Therefore, it is worth looking with apprehension at people who are outraged that the budget for the army is too large. We pay so that our soldiers have a better chance of survival. And, if 18 grants can save American citizens - it's not a problem at all.
But let's be honest: this amount is approximate and changes every year or fiscal quarter. Moreover, we take into account the equipment without detailing it. Furthermore, we are not trying to estimate specific equipment for special forces or other types of troops, only a rough estimate for the ground forces. And we are not trying to put price tags on unique means of chemical protection or equipment for particular conditions. But let's dig a little deeper and try to compile a list of things a rookie needs.
So, let's briefly list what was awarded to an infantryman when he entered service during the Iraqi campaign in the 90s of the last century. Two sets of uniforms for summer and winter, two pairs of boots, one kevlar helmet, one load-carrying equipment system, one flak vest. It is important to note here that modern body armor is very different from that of that time. They often lacked adequate bullet protection, such as the failed Interceptor.
In addition, the soldiers had four pairs of green socks, brown underwear, four brown t-shirts, and Gortex outer shell, long sleeve undershirt, and a bottom. Also at the fighter's disposal was a rucksack, e-tool, sleeping bag, polypad, leather gloves with wool inserts. Also, for low temperatures, there was a "Bear Suit" kit and an NBC gear. And, the compass! Don't forget about the compass!
In addition, the military had the concept of "Mission Essential" gear, which included specific items. Night vision goggles and NV scopes for weapons, ammo, smoke and frag grenades, weather clothes, and, of course, weapons.
As you can see, the equipment of the American soldier today represents reliable and high-quality support for the soldier. The path that the army has traveled over the past eighty years is impressive. And the number of lives saved is in the hundreds of thousands. But, as you understand, our scientists and army have no limit; therefore, it is difficult to imagine what awaits us in the future. But, we will try to make a small prediction about what the equipment of an American soldier will be soon.
First, it will be expensive. According to experts, the equipment will not cost less than $ 30 thousand, and the solutions used in its manufacture will increase the price up to $ 60 thousand. The state is ready to finance such research and development. Moreover, the budget will be prepared to allocate money for equipping the army with such equipment.
The reason is straightforward: times change, and they change wars. Today we are on the verge of a revolution similar to the one during the Great War. Today only the most backward armies can afford to send people into battle. In most cases, combat is fought remotely. The legendary struggle of Hisham, Syria, in 2018 will be a vivid illustration here. During this battle, the attacking Syrian terrorists and several more than three hundred Russian mercenaries were destroyed. Tellingly, this sneaky and unexpected attack was repulsed by several helicopters and drones. A separate joy is that neither infantrymen nor ground troops had to risk it.
The point is that cases where a person must participate in a battle are becoming rare, thanks to modern technology. This means you can invest more money in the equipment of the infantrymen.
This means that it will be possible to make knee and elbow pads built into the clothes and shape an individual. Lightweight helmets with lots of electronics and tactical projection on an armored screen, sensors, batteries, and miniature equipment that fits into a backpack. Air conditioning of clothes, finally! And, of course, the lightening of armor through the use of new composite materials while increasing the level of protection.
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