MSA’s Military Helmets Criticized

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(Host) A military helmet that’s manufactured in Vermont has become the subject of criticism by a senior army neurosurgeon in Baghdad.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Poffenbarger blames the helmet’s smaller design for head injuries that would have been prevented by larger helmets that were previously used. Poffenbarger’s assessment is based on the types of head injuries he’s attended to in Baghdad.

The Advanced Combat Helmet is made by three companies, including MSA Gallet, which manufactures them in Newport. Mark Deasy is the director of public relations for MSA in Pittsburgh:

(Deasy) “I would caution anybody from jumping to conclusions that the ACH is an ineffective helmet, especially based on research that is neither quantifiable or scientific.”

(Host) Lieutent Colonel Poffenbarger told the Journal that he believes the helmet in question is best suited to infantry combat. But in guerilla warfare, such as soldiers face in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says the helmet leaves the back of the skull vulnerable to injury.

Deasey says MSA doesn’t play a role in the design of the helmet:

(Deasy) “We provide input in terms of manufacturing expertise. As far as direct input into the helmet design, we really defer to the army because they base that design on significant research in terms of what they’re looking for – in terms of stability, balance, ballistic protection and things like that.”

(Host) Deasey says it’s too early to speculate on whether the army will incorporate design changes into future orders it places for helmets. Deasy and officials at MSA Gallet in Newport also site examples of soldiers whose lives were saved by innovation in the helmet’s design.

In past couple years, MSA has received army contracts to manufacture more than 315,000 helmets.

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