The incorrect use of bulletproof vests during the Battle of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) in March was probably why 15 South African soldiers were killed.
Colonel Renier “Doibi” Coetzee, a senior South African Special Forces officer, made this statement on behalf of his superiors at a press conference in Pretoria earlier this week, Beeld reported today.
Coetzee said soldiers who had worn their jackets correctly withstood several bullets and survived the ordeal.
He said that after the March 23 battle it had emerged that some of the South African troops had not worn their jackets in the prescribed way. “Some took out the bulletproofing plates, while others just wore breast plates. This left their backs unprotected.”
Coetzee said the army was currently evaluating both instructions for wearing the jackets, and the quality of items being issued to soldiers.
“It is true that our jackets are a bit old, and that the technology is a bit outdated … but there’s nothing wrong with them.”
Wearing the jackets was optional, and especially when it was hot, solders tended to remove the plates.
“American and British soldiers in Afghanistan eat and sleep with their jackets on, and they would not dare move from camp without them. This is one of the things that, after the current evaluation, will probably become mandatory for our soldiers,” he said.
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