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The US Army and Marine Corps continue to work together to try and reduce the weight of troops gear, according to a recent government study.
The study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO, independent agency that works for Congress) noted joint efforts to reduce the weight of body armor and listed multiple options in the works to further decrease the load.
The report, released this month, evaluated work done by both the Army and Marines since 2003 to protective aspects of body armor while reducing the weight of the equipment. On average, body armor weighs about 27 pounds.
According to armytimes.com, that makes up a good chunk of the average total load of 117 pounds being carried by Marines and 119 pounds being carried by soldiers, according to the report. Those total loads don’t necessarily match well with the Army’s 1990 recommendations that a fighting load not exceed 48 pounds and a marching load be under 72 pounds.
Officials with both services told government researchers that the previous standards might be outdated and “not reflective” of current body armor standards.
In 2016, the Army developed a plan to reduce the weight of hard armor plates by 2 pounds.
Both branches have made updates and redesigns to soft armor vests that have “resulted in or will result in” a cut of 6 to 7 pounds, according to the report. As researchers try to lighten the load the troops carry, they are also looking at more innovative ways to haul gear in and around the battlefield.
The report noted Marine tests using aerial delivery that could bring hundreds of pounds gear to units in hard-to-reach places.
The Army has ongoing testing and development on smaller all-terrain vehicles and autonomous support systems that follow soldiers and carry their supplies.
Other efforts include lighter batteries and reduced battery usage, along with lighter ammunition using polymer casings and magazines.