Fancy Underwear Urgently Incoming for U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

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NOT the new boxers: US soldier Zachary Boyd, left, fought off the Taliban in 2009 / AP photo

We’ve reported on the problems IEDs can cause troops’ private parts when they detonate underneath them. Things have gotten so dire that the Pentagon is now skipping normal procurement rules mandating competition, to speed up the purchase and deployment of so-called “ballistic undergarments.” The justification for the no-competition option — “unusual and compelling urgency” is cited — reminds us once again that war isn’t always drones firing on targets commanded by Americans at a safe remove. It’s a dirty, and ugly business. According to Army Major David O’Hearn, the contracting officer involved, members of the Marines’ 1st Expeditionary Force and the Army’s 10th Mountain Division now in Afghanistan

are sustaining significant injuries to the genital, perinea, and femoral artery areas as a result of combat operations and improvised explosive devices. The loss of forces due to these types of injuries has a significant impact on the unit’s combat effectiveness and their ability to sustain operations. Based on analysis in theater, ballistic underwear will drastically improve casualty recovery and reduce secondary infections. Ballistic underwear is currently being used by British forces in Regional Command-South West and they have significantly less injuries to the genital and perinea areas. Currently, the Marines and Division soldiers do not have any issued equipment to protect the perineum and genital areas. Without ballistic undergarments, I MEF and 10th Mountain forces will continue to suffer significant injuries, loss of life, resulting in an adverse effect on combat operations.

So they’re buying 27,500 pair of the “antimicrobial double-weave silk undergarments that have been battlefield tested” at $73 each. Future contracts will be competed.