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brim over

MICH TC-2000 Combat Helmet

The Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH), also known as the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), was developed by the United States Army Soldier Systems Center to be the next generation of protective combat helmets for use by the United States Army.

Service

The MICH was originally part of a series of combat helmets designed for the United States Army Special Operations Command as a replacement for the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops Helmet (PASGT) solely within those units. However, the Army later determined that the improvements presented by the MICH over the aging PASGT helmet warranted organization-wide distribution.

To date, the MICH has replaced the PASGT in active United States Army service. Some units of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve continue to use the PASGT, though its use will eventually expire.

The MICH is in use with all branches of the United States Armed Forces in at least some capacity. The MICH was officially adopted as the standard issue helmet of the Air Force Security Forces. The United States Marine Corps evaluated the MICH during its own search for a PASGT replacement, but chose to adopt a helmet that retains the profile of the PASGT, known as the Lightweight Helmet. However, a small number of units and individuals within the Marines are issued MICH helmets. Elite combat arms units of the United States Navy are also typically issued MICH helmets as warranted.

MICH helmets are available for purchase by law enforcement agencies and the public. They have become popular with various SWAT units and private security companies.

Design

The MICH ranges in weight from about 3 pounds (size medium) to just over 3.6 lb (extra large) (1.36 - 1.63 kg). It uses a new, more advanced type of Kevlar and provides increased protection against handgun rounds.

A pad system and four-point retention system, similar to the cushions and straps found on bicycle helmets, replaces the nylon cord suspension system, sweatband and chinstrap found on the PASGT helmet. The change provides greater impact protection and comfort for the wearer. It can be fitted with a mounting bracket for an AN/PVS-14 monocular night vision device (MNVD) on the front, similar to that on the PASGT helmet, as seen in the above image. It can also be fitted with a pair of straps on the rear to keep protective eyewear in place, as well as cloth helmet covers in varying camouflage patterns including US Woodland, three-color desert, ACU, Crye MultiCam, and solid black for use with SWAT teams.

The MICH is also slightly smaller than the PASGT, providing 8% less coverage. This accounts for some of the reduced weight and allows for both greater situational awareness and less obstruction of the wearer's vision, particularly when combined with Interceptor body armor. Previously, soldiers had complained that the high collar of the Interceptor pushed the back of the helmet forward, in turn moving the helmet brim over their eyes when they attempted to fire from a prone position.

In 2007 the Army developed and introduced an armored "nape pad" that attaches to the MICH's rear suspension system and coincided with the introduction of the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV). The goal of the armor insert is to reduce soldier deaths from shrapnel wounds to the neck and lower head. It is currently being issued to combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beginning in 2008, the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier outfitted soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and 4th Infantry Division bound for Iraq with helmet-mounted sensors designed to gather data on head injuries caused during Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonations. The data collected will help with the design of improvements to the MICH's suspension and chin strap systems.

Controversy

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Poffenbarger, an Army neurosurgeon and former member of the United States Army Special Forces, has been an outspoken critic of the MICH. He claims that the decreased coverage around the ears and neck is inappropriate for modern combat. He came to his conclusion after examining a large number of traumatic head injuries during his tour of duty as the primary military head trauma specialist in Iraq.

The team in charge of developing the Lightweight Helmet for the Marine Corps claim that the instability created by the PASGT helmet when used while prone with Interceptor Body Armor can be better addressed by suspension improvements rather than giving the helmet a higher cut. Project officials were also concerned that a smaller helmet would encourage inappropriate helmet wear. Additionally, some Marines who evaluated the MICH during the development of the Lightweight Helmet claimed that they felt less protected with the higher cut.

Widespread incorrect wear of the MICH helmet by soldiers was confirmed in 2007 when Program Executive Office Soldier issued a Safety Of Use Message urging all personnel to address incorrect wear of the MICH. The message stated that extensive surveying had revealed that soldiers were often wearing their MICH helmets too high on the forehead, a problem often attributed soldiers being issued helmets which were too small and/or using internal padding that was too large.

See also

References

External links

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