Protecting American Soldiers
The Development, Testing, and Fielding of the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH)
The protection of American soldiers in combat was a top priority for senior leaders in the U.S. Army, Defense Department, and Congress. The Defense Department committed considerable resources and funding over the years in research and development, resulting in advanced materials and manufacturing processes. These investments paid off. American soldiers went into battle with technologically advanced, rigorously tested combat equipment. Soldiers knew that their combat equipment worked as intended. In the end, that increased the combat effectiveness of the soldiers and their units. The force protection of soldiers was considered as a layered approach. The outer force protection layer for soldiers was situational awareness. The middle force protection layer was concealment. The inner force protection layer was personal protective equipment, like helmets, eyewear, and ballistic vests with ceramic plate inserts. Specifically, combat helmets provided soldiers skull and brain protection against both ballistic threats (e.g., bullets) and blunt impact forces, and prevented mild traumatic brain injury and concussions.