As an armor system for the USMC’s future battle space vehicles the use of soft armor and hard armor should be differentiated. Soft armor is the armor used in ballistically controlled full size mock subjects, where penetration testing is not performed. Hard armor is the armor used for modular handheld vests and plate carriers in the future environments that will see the use of body armor for protection from lethal and non-lethal projectiles. A future system should not only use soft armor but it should use hard armor as well. It is also important to note that the future world of modular systems and balance of forces will require the armor types used in such systems to change for the terrain the vehicle will be fighting on.
A future medium sized unit will be required to have some form of bullet proof vest or hard armor to protect against the penetrating energy of RPG rounds fired by enemy combatants and/or terrorist groups intent on terrorizing the populace. In fact, the RPG family of weapons and how they work has evolved to such a level today that it is hard to imagine a scenario where one could survive a firefight with enemy combatants using only soft armor. Currently the only armor solution available for a human being is the soft armor used by the Special Forces and Air Force Snipers.
Currently soft armor used by the army is probably sufficient to hold up against rifles, handguns and other small arms fire. The problem comes when you are faced with fighting with more powerful firearms like machine guns and automatic rifles. Today the American soldier is challenged more than ever before in their careers to adapt to changing battlefield dynamics. The enemy is using less human explosive devices to fight back against the American soldier. Therefore, the need for the future soldiers of tomorrow to utilize and develop new technologies to mount a more effective armor system on their warriors is very real.