Not exactly office attire

Me in armor

Ready for anything?

Last month the bullet proof vest and Kevlar helmet was delivered.  A thirty-five pound package was delivered by FedEx.  In the box that was delivered I found a Kevlar helmet, size extra large, and a vest, size 42 long with four, level IV ceramic plates.  As best as I can describe the plates are made out of the same material that those brightly colored Le Creuset cooking pots are made out of.  Heavy stuff.  Because I cannot easily get into Dubai with this gear, the U.A.E. doesn’t allow the transport of Kevlar or ballistic vests through their airports…as far as I can tell, I will be sending the gear to Afghanistan ahead of my arrival.  The soldiers I will meet on the civilian-side of the Kandahar Airport will have the gear for me.  I need the gear before I can travel with any military-provided transport.

Before I send it down range I have decided to have a little fun with it.  Every once in awhile I will don the gear in the office, if anything to prepare my mind for the weight of it.  The vest is probably about 30 pounds and, though its weight is distributed evenly across my torso, I do feel a little short of breath while I’m wearing it. The pressure on my upper body makes it a little more difficult to breath.  My colleagues who have slid the gear on feel the same way.

Having the gear on hand and allowing people to try it on allows me the opportunity to explain what it must be like for soldiers who wear this gear every day.  The gear they have is more substantial, and they are usually wearing a pack and carrying a weapon while on patrol.  The constant force of the weight on their body as they walk, or the awkwardness of having to get into and out of vehicles and other tight spaces while carrying an additional 50+ pounds cannot but have consequences on their back, hips, knees and ankle later in life.  As I lumber around the office I quickly appreciate the physicality of being a soldier on patrol.

I am not exactly sure when I made this decision.  I have decided to travel by myself during this embed.  I will not have a videographer with me.