In the aftermath of the successful invasion of Europe during OPERATION Overlord, the Allied forces found themselves stymied by a couple of factors. The first of these was the inability to push enough supplies into the beachhead to sustain the growing number of troops and vehicles. This, however, had a solution that could be visualized: capture a port. The second factor was much more daunting. The intelligence assessment of the battlespace had totally ignored a key terrain factor.
Normandy had been under cultivation for a couple of millenia and country side was a patchwork of pastures and fields bounded by immense hedgerows. The whole pattern was called bocage. When allied tanks encountered the hedgerows, which frequently reached five meters in height, they had a couple of options. They could go around or they could go over. If they went over the thinly armored belly of an already inadequately armored M-4 Sherman became a tempting target for German infantry and their Panzerfausts. Losses skyrocketed. Morale plummeted. Advance became stalemate.
The Sergeant Curtis G. Culin happened.
This was the result
One of the many virtues of the US military is the way it does everything possible to conserve manpower. There are a lot of reasons for that but a lot of it is rooted in our egalitarian society and because company grade officers who grow up to be generals have to endure the same risks and general suckage in combat at any private soldier. Our casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan have been extremely low due to good tactics and leadership but also due to body armor. For instance, this is video of a jihadi sniper shooting a US soldier and not getting the immediate gratification he wanted:
Other advances have also reduced casualties, such as bandages treated with a substance that quickly clots blood and keeps soldiers alive until they can reach a hospital.
Now a young Marine has been recognized for an invention that is in the tradition of Sergeant Culin:
A U.S. Marine from Moultrie recently won a corps-wide logistical innovation award for an improvement to Marines’ flak jackets that may save lives.
Cpl. Matthew A. Long, a motor transport mechanic, proposed a tear-proof bag behind the ceramic insert in the body armor — called a Small Arms Protective Insert or SAPI, according to a story published at USMCLIfe.com.
The bag will contain a clotting agent and a pain-killer, so when it’s pierced by a bullet the medicines will automatically be administered immediately into the wound.
The logistics innovation challenge was part of the Marine Corps’ push for innovation among its ranks. Long, among many others, is scheduled to be sent to the United States so he can create a prototype of his idea and share it with the rest of the Marine Corps, the USMCLife article said.
This is the type of thing that makes the US military unique on the planet; the realization that all the brains don’t reside in the upper levels of command and the ability of everyone, regardless of rank or education, to be heard and to make a difference.