Small Wars Journal

Marines Give Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) Thumbs Down

FOX News is reporting that Marine Commandant General James Conway is heeding his combat Marines' advice by ordering a halt to the rest of an unfilled order of Protective Products International's Modular Tactical Vest (MTV).

The Pentagon and Marine Corps authorized the purchase of 84,000 bulletproof vests in 2006 that not only are too heavy but are so impractical that some U.S. Marines are asking for their old vests back so they can remain agile enough to fight.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway wants to know who authorized the costly purchase of the nearly 30-pound flak jackets...

Body Armor Wars in the Marine Corps - Herschel Smith, The Captain's Journal

Discuss at Small Wars Council.


Ian Machen (not verified)

Tue, 08/18/2009 - 1:26am

I have been issued the MTV, IBA, old style Flack Jackets, as well as the SPC (Scaleable Plate Carrier) and by far I prefer the SPC. The MTV i so bulky that it is highly difficult to get through some door ways and out of vehicles. Arm movement is highly restrictive and most of all it is HOT HOT HOT. I will take the SPC any day of the week for its increased mobility, comfort and modularity.

Zaccasey (not verified)

Sun, 08/17/2008 - 1:11pm

This article seems unlikely as there has been an incredibly positive response by the US Marine Corps to the MTV. Marines talk about how they can't get them rolled out fast enough as the MTV clearly addresses the shortcomings of the previous vest and is a very good investment to protection our troops. The word is that there will be some minor tweaks to the MTV and it will be even better as it is rolled out further.

I have completely, absolutely, positively no idea whatsoever what this article is talking about. It makes absolutely no sense at all to me. The MTV is a carrier, not a new set of body armor. All of the weighty elements from the IBA - the front ESAPI plate, the rear ESAPI plate, and the side SAPIs, along with the soft panels placed inside the carrier - are still there with the MTV.

More precisely, the soft panels are taken out of the IBA along with the SAPI plates and placed in the new carrier. The soft panels had been inefficiently deployed in the shoulder area in the IBA, and now are fully utilized. One big difference in the MTV and the IBA is the fact that the IBA hung completely on the shoulders, and allowed no load bearing whatsoever on other parts of the body. The MTV hugs the torso, especially at the hips, and places the weight on the hips somewhat like an internal frame backpack.

This feature was so popular among the grunts with my sons unit before they deployed to Iraq in 2007 (which happened to be prior to the point that the MTV had been issued) that most of the men went to TAGs (Tactical Applications Group) just outside Camp Lejeune and purchased the commercial version of the MTV, or the Spartan 2.

I have heard multiple Marines myself praise the MTV for its ability to take the load off of the shoulders and place it on the hips - and thus PREVENT BACK PROBLEMS, and have never once heard even the slightest complaint. I have also worn the IBA and Spartan 2, and know the difference first hand. I simply cannot account for the report in this article. The only possible explanation I have for it is that the complaints may not be coming from grunts who have to go on 20 mile "humps" with their armor on (along with ammunition, Camelback, carabineer to hold weapon, etc.). The MTV (or Spartan 2) was so popular among Marines at Camp Lejeune that, again, personal funds were spent purchasing it.

Compare this to the IBA which places the load on the shoulders, and again, I simply do not understand this article. Also, the IBA hangs the side SAPIs by Molle loops, so usually they sag (making good sniper targets under the arms of the wearer because of this sagging). The only real weight difference with the Spartan 2 / MTV and the IBA that I have seen is the existence of the front groin soft panel guard. This adds what - several ounces of weight?

Again, confused, and suspect there is more to this story than meets the eye.