Why do modern armies use body protection

The National Council does not want anything by halves when it comes to protective vests

Unlike the Council of States, the National Council does not want to cut the armaments program in 2018. In his opinion, it is necessary to buy adequate body armor for all military personnel.

100 million francs - this amount was passionately fought over in the National Council on Thursday and with it the question of how comprehensive the approximately 100,000 army members should be protected in the future. Unlike the Council of States before, the National Council is of the opinion that all members of the army should receive comprehensive body protection.

He is succeeding the Federal Council, which has budgeted CHF 199 million for ballistic body protection in the armaments program of the Army Embassy. The small chamber previously advocated cutting this budgeted item by half - or 100 million francs.

Cooking in the protective vest

A position that was also shared by the SP parliamentary group in the National Council. SP security politician Priska Seiler-Graf (Zurich) said right at the beginning of the debate that the number of protective vests stipulated in the embassy would overshoot the target at 115,000: “I don't think there will be a scenario in which really all relatives the army, to the cook, to the chef, would need these protective vests. "

Even a military magazine, which is not exactly known to be critical of the army, complains that the procurement of protective vests is a typical “gap filler project”, continues Seiler-Graf. Rosmarie Quadranti (bdp., Zurich) double up: The west would partly unused "gather dust and rot in some camps".

The SVP saw it quite differently. Thomas Hurter (Zurich) defended the amount of 115,000 vests against the accusation that the estimated number of protective vests even exceeded the actual workforce of the army. "Full equipment is always a little more than 100 percent," said Hurter. In addition, such equipment for the troops is expressly part of the «Further Development of the Army (WEA)» decided by parliament.

The Bernese SVP National Councilor Werner Salzmann reminded that in crisis situations a lot of staff is quickly involved. At such moments, it must have enough protective vests. "Then I would like to see who of you looks the soldiers and the cadre in the eye and says: 'We don't have enough protective vests.'" Said Salzmann.

But not only the SVP spoke out in favor of comprehensive protective equipment, the FDP parliamentary group also stood behind it. Walter Müller (St. Gallen) pointed out that modern warfare hardly knows any clear fronts and that, in the event of a conflict, fighting could break out even in the rear. And soldiers involved there are also entitled to the best possible protection.

The CVP parliamentary group considers a reduction in protective vests by half to be excessive. As National Councilor Alois Gmür (Schwyz) explained, a reduction by a third would be conceivable for the CVP. However, the Christian Democrats finally voted for the full version, which meant that it had a majority behind it.

Weapon systems retired

The National Council also followed the Federal Council on the remaining points of the 2018 Army Dispatch. The three total loans in the amount of just over CHF 2 billion were confirmed. For the first time, the National Council was also able to decide on the decommissioning of existing weapon systems.

And here, too, the advice followed the Federal Council and decided to retire parts of the existing F-5-Tiger fighter aircraft fleet, the fortress artillery that was still partially available, including the 12-centimeter fortress mine throwers, the non-retrofitted self-propelled howitzers and the tank destroyers. An individual application from SVP National Councilor Franz Grüter (Lucerne), who wanted to prevent the 12-centimeter fortress mine thrower from being taken out of service, had no chance.