Hearing Protection In Actual Firefights Of The US Army?


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DonNikmare
May 7, 2005, 10:11 PM
I've been wondering about this. I would think they have to have some protection or their hearing would go to hell fast.

On the other hand, how do they communicate if they have plugs in and don't want to yell to each other for tactical reasons? I sure hear a whole lot of screaming anytime I see news clips of action taking place in Iraq.

I guess hand signals is one way but often not possible due to the speed of communication needed.

Anyone know what the actual protocol is for this in the army/marines?

Nik

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Hawkmoon
May 7, 2005, 10:44 PM
I have no idea whether or not they use any "ears" today, but we didn't in 'Nam.

Sunray
May 7, 2005, 10:49 PM
The last thing you want in combat is one sense impaired. Do you waer hearing protection when hunting? Same thing. Outside, the noise is dispersed rather quickly. The only time you'd want anything is if you're in a building. Mind you, serious warriors just button up their turret.

Alex45ACP
May 7, 2005, 11:04 PM
Former/current military people on here, do you wear ear protection in boot camp?

mrhuckins
May 7, 2005, 11:05 PM
When I was in the Army, we had to wear an earplug case on our uniforms. It was part of our uniform, and we were out of uniform if we didn't have our earplugs and earplug case hanging from the inside top leaft breastpocket buttonhole. And yes, we wore them in combat, and yes it is difficult to hear with them in. It is also hard to hear with explosions, mortar, small arms fire, and cannon fire going off all around you. It's part of the combat experience. I believe that is why handsignals are a big part of squad tactics training.

MikeIsaj
May 7, 2005, 11:13 PM
Always wore protection on the range. Never in combat. Kinda hard to stop and put in your plugs when people are trying to kill you.

I have been told that outdoor shooting does very little long term damage. Eventually you will have a loss but it's a case of protect when you can, don't worry when you can't. Indoor shooting is a different story.

Citadel99
May 7, 2005, 11:46 PM
It's a catch 22. The SF guys out here have Peltors with comms. Ear plugs on convoys have saved many soldier's hearing during IEDs and VBIEDs. As far as daily patrols--haven't seent to many with ear plugs.

Mark

ClarkEMyers
May 7, 2005, 11:54 PM
My own experience is that outdoor shooting ruins hearing. I know others with the same experience from machine gunners to trap shooters.

voilsb
May 8, 2005, 12:23 AM
We wear hearing protection for training all the time, although rarely on patrols. Sometimes hearing protection goes in while we're in an OBJ or setting up an attack position, where we expect to make contact soon.

I've never been in combat, so I have no idea how much it's used there. I have seen a few pictures of soldiers wearing plugs in combat, however. Personally, I hope to be able to buy a Walker Game Ear or something before deploying, and use it.

phoglund
May 8, 2005, 12:32 AM
I've always kind of wondered about this myself. In my experience with gun fire without ear plugs is that after firing a centerfire cartridge or two without hearing protection I hear things about as muffled as I would if I had ear plugs in. After first contact if opportunity presented it's self I'd sure want plugs in.

hso
May 8, 2005, 12:47 AM
Any shooting damages hearing regardless of indoors or out. It isn't that outdoors is safer. It's that indoors is worse. The more you do without the more damage you get.

GunnyBob
May 8, 2005, 12:59 AM
Never wore 'em in training, jungle, or sandbox.

No_Brakes23
May 8, 2005, 01:54 AM
Only wore em on the range or on the flightline. Didn't wear any in the field when firing blanks.

thorn726
May 8, 2005, 02:46 AM
WOW = this is something the military SHOULD be thinking about.

don't artillery people at least have protection???

my uncle has little hearing in one ear, and no hearing of upper frequncies (like really loud crickets in summer, he hears nothing, cell phone ringer, can't hear it)

because in Vietnam a cannon (?) went off way too close to him he wasnt operating it so had no protection i forget the details exactly. at any rate it is a real pain for him to be half deaf from friendly fire

Hawkmoon- glad you made it back, that must have been horrible over there.

Byron Quick
May 8, 2005, 02:52 AM
Many retired artillerymen have damaged hearing...including many who have never been in combat. "Friendly fire...isn't."

RevDisk
May 8, 2005, 03:45 AM
I'm currently attached to an artillery unit. I was wearing the heaviest set of hearing protection issued (massive headset) and my ears were still ringing after we did a multiple battery TOT. Sans headset, I imagine one's eardrums would be blown out. Literally.

I made (and make) a real big effort to be real careful about my hearing. It doesn't grow back. I always had a set of plugs attached to my uniform. I also bought a hunting style electronic earplugs that slightly amplified ambient noise and deadened loud noise. Not perfect, and I didn't like wearing them, but better than being stone deaf or dead. Sometimes it's just not an option or not enough time.

The military is concerned about hearing loss these days. Just sometimes it's an afterthought when you have lead flying through the air. Gunbunnies (artillery guys) always have hearing protection, otherwise they'd be stone deaf after one day at the line.

entropy
May 8, 2005, 09:53 AM
I would like to have had some in/on whan a battery of M109's opened up on a shoot'n scoot drill about 50 yds. behind me while I was sleeping! :cuss: We wore them on the firing line, and the muffs while driving trucks. (I drove a Duece as Unit Supply.) Got to try the Peltor-type setups once, wish they were standard issue. I use a pair when shooting now, wish I'd had some then. ;)

ID_shooting
May 8, 2005, 10:20 AM
I wore mine all the time while training, even in my M1 I wore ear plugs under my CVC. Since I was fortunate enough not be deployed for combat, I can't say what the grunts are using, but there sure are lots of hearing aids and tenitus cases at the VA when I go in.

RevDisk
May 8, 2005, 05:59 PM
I would like to have had some in/on whan a battery of M109's opened up on a shoot'n scoot drill about 50 yds. behind me while I was sleeping! We wore them on the firing line, and the muffs while driving trucks. (I drove a Duece as Unit Supply.) Got to try the Peltor-type setups once, wish they were standard issue. I use a pair when shooting now, wish I'd had some then.

Bwahaha. I swear, we gunbunnies would NEVER do something like that intentionally. Trust me! :evil:

Blackburn
May 8, 2005, 06:07 PM
Yeah, because joking about causing permenant hearing damage is so funny! :neener:

Sistema1927
May 8, 2005, 07:28 PM
I took my Dad out shooting yesterday. He retired from the US Army after serving 1950-1971. His idea of a "real" rifle will always be the M1 Garand, so we took my CMP rifle out, along with my AR and a couple of other weapons.

Before we went I purchased a pack of foam ear plugs, rated at 32 or 34 db. I instructed him on rolling them up and then inserting them deep in the ear canal, but I am not sure that he did it that way. I wore the same set of plugs that I first recieved in Basic Training in 1980.

Funny how he complained about everything sounding like it was in a tunnel after firing a couple of clips of ammo from the M1. He told me that he didn't think it would cause any damage, since he never wore hearing protection duruing his military service.

My military experience was just the opposite, we always wore plugs at the range, and I also wore them under my CVC in the M60.

BTW, he was still able to shoot 3" groups off-hand at 100 yards using Danish surplus ammo. I guess that they did a good job training him on the use of the Garand.

Relayer
May 8, 2005, 07:58 PM
In my day, 78 - 83, we always wore hearing protection at the range, even in basic training.

patentnonsense
May 8, 2005, 09:03 PM
I've seen old hands use a couple of pistol rounds as earplugs - I bet that trick has been used a time or two.

Chipperman
May 8, 2005, 09:10 PM
Using empty cases is better than nothing, but the case still transmits sound waves pretty well. :eek:

GunnyBob
May 8, 2005, 09:27 PM
Ear plugs were once as frowned upon as sunglasses, but one does what one can to make-do. We'd field strip the filter from a cigarette, moisten it slightly, then insert. Helpful when trying to get some sleep when it was too noisy to do so otherwise. Cigs came free with C-Rations, and only $.15 a pack if you could get to a PX, so it wasn't as if there was a dearth that would prohibit such use.

jefnvk
May 8, 2005, 09:30 PM
In a pinch, rolled up napkin/kleenex works much better than cartridges. Still not good though.

I can only guess. I would imagine that a spontanous firefight, while not good, probably isn't going to change the overall longevitiy of hearing. Continous exposure to firing, as I am sure some combat units face, over months or years probably does hurt a lot.

If It were me, I could only guess, but I'd probably leave one in, and the other dangling, if I thought I was heading towards any shooting. Less than half the time to stick the other in, no fumbling with the case to get them out. Still have OK hearing of voice commands before anything starts.

Onmilo
May 8, 2005, 10:36 PM
Testing is ongoing to provide electronic hearing protection to all combat soldiers.

Their are some inroads being made in incorporating an electronic hearing protection system into the standard combat helmet.

The hearing protectors will allow the user protection from sudden loud noises while enhancing hearing ability in a normal setting.

Right now their is nothing available to soldiers short of earplugs which impare ability to hear commands and can lead to ear infections and other problems if left in place for long periods of time.

During the rapid deployment involved in a combat shooting situation, there is simply no time to stop and install earplugs.
Soldiers go to shooting and deal with the ringing after the fact, not a good thing.

A plan is in the works in R and D but it may be several months or years before anything comes to pass.

DonNikmare
May 8, 2005, 10:46 PM
WOW = this is something the military SHOULD be thinking about.
Sadly, it probably has to do as much with $ as with the practicality of it. The technology is there to have electronic earplugs that would not make one's head a bigger target and allow one to hear lower volume noises but it would probably cost too much and may not be very durable on the field.

I can hear it now..."Tonight, on Frontline...hearing loss in the army. What is the US government doing about it? Or more accurately, what is the US government not doing about it? We talk/sign to real soldiers whose hearing has become a casualty of war..." Add evil dramatic music in the background.

I'm surprised I have not heard it already or may be it is not as big of a problem as I would expect it would be.

Nik

RevDisk
May 8, 2005, 10:58 PM
If It were me, I could only guess, but I'd probably leave one in, and the other dangling, if I thought I was heading towards any shooting. Less than half the time to stick the other in, no fumbling with the case to get them out. Still have OK hearing of voice commands before anything starts.

I tried that. Really threw off my ability to accurately locate sources of noises quickly. Doing so for extended periods of time made me dizzy. Better than nothing, tho.

Remember to insert the earplug on the side of your head closest to weapon. (Care to guess what I forgot to do once?)



Ear plugs were once as frowned upon as sunglasses, but one does what one can to make-do. We'd field strip the filter from a cigarette, moisten it slightly, then insert. Helpful when trying to get some sleep when it was too noisy to do so otherwise. Cigs came free with C-Rations, and only $.15 a pack if you could get to a PX, so it wasn't as if there was a dearth that would prohibit such use.

GunnyBob, when I hear things like this, I get slightly misty eyed. The current PX prices on smokes are roughly equal to civvie prices, but I've seen them HIGHER than civvie prices on base before. Why does that make me think someone is pocketting a tidy profit? :scrutiny:

If I ever get sent overseas again, I'm bringing half a dozen cartons worth of cigarette making supplies. (I roll my own.) I can last until my buddies can MAIL me a steady supply of tobacco.


Testing is ongoing to provide electronic hearing protection to all combat soldiers.

Their are some inroads being made in incorporating an electronic hearing protection system into the standard combat helmet.

A good number of foreign Armies have done this for years already. They looked at us kinda funny when they saw we were still using foam or plastic plugs. If we wanted to save some time and effort, we could ask other folks what they are using and how well it's worked. Not overly expensive, especially when you consider cost to govt for VA benefits after vets lose their hearing.

http://www.revdisk.net/photos/SwedishSF.jpg

Note what's on everyone's head or hands. They work extremely well also.

I bought my own set from a hunting catalog. Works well enough. Not perfect, they mess with your ability to accurately locate the direction a sound comes from.

MikeIsaj
May 9, 2005, 08:48 AM
Life is a series of compromises. You get in your car, you take a risk of becoming one of the 30,000 highway fatalities this year. You do so because you compromise safety for mobility.

Hearing protection is the same. I never said outdoor firing doesn't harm hearing. I said long term harm is negligable when when the choice is returning fire or inserting ear plugs. On the range I have always used muffs or plugs. Indoors I use both.

I'll never risk getting a hole in the middle of my head because I'm busy plugging the ones in the sides of my head.

Tinker
May 9, 2005, 10:14 AM
This topic makes me think of those hardened concrete "pill boxes" that the Germans had set up in WW2. Can you imagine the noise level inside one of those as a couple of machine guns are being used? Maybe that's one reason our guys were able to sneak up and and plop grenades in.....the Germans couldn't hear them sneaking around the flank. I saw some footage of a GI doing this in Europe. He just sneaked around, stood on top of the box and slung some kind of bag charge in the opening. Blew the crap out of the gunners. Shoot, truth be known, they probably couldn't hear him.

Z_Infidel
May 9, 2005, 04:17 PM
I woudn't be surprised if they are testing something along these lines:
http://shop.store.yahoo.com/earplugstore/aosinranplug.html

mons meg
May 9, 2005, 05:12 PM
In the 155mm battery I was in, I *always* wore my plus when we were firing, and I was in the fire direction tent usually a couple hundred yards behind the closest gun in the line. We took it very seriously.

kngflp
May 9, 2005, 05:14 PM
I always thought shooting outside wouldn't be that bad with no protection, until last week. I went shooting and forgot my ears, I fired a few mags thru my AK and my 45 before figureing out that some 9mm hydra shoks fit in my ear nicely. Three days later and my ears are still hurting, sometimes when people are talking to me all of the sudden I just start hearing a high pitched ringing. Never again will I forget my ears.

MarkDido
May 9, 2005, 06:25 PM
Shooting at the range IS hearing protection...

It protects my ears from hearing;

"Honey, would you paint the bathroom, take out the trash, neuter the cat...."

:)

tyme
May 9, 2005, 07:01 PM
I got a couple pairs of those peltor/AO olive/yellow reversible earplugs and used them hunting a month ago. They worked very nicely, though they seemed to work better for rifles than handguns.

Some clown I was with had a .44mag, and it seemed loud... louder than .458mag (I think that's what his rifle was). No ringing afterwards, though, and no appreciable loss of hearing, even temporary.

scout26
May 9, 2005, 07:33 PM
In from '87-'96 hearing protection was part of the uniform. Wore them on the range and any other time we were exposed to loud noises like riding in a Deuce and Half, or C-130's, C-141's and C-5's (airborne and other MAC operations, like catching "hops" out of and into Europe). :D :D

jefnvk
May 9, 2005, 08:03 PM
The hearing protectors will allow the user protection from sudden loud noises while enhancing hearing ability in a normal setting.

Seems like somethign they could do. The civvie versions can be found less than $100, so I don't think that cost has a lot to do (ever see the cost of Night Vision). maybew if they could find some way to mount those in a helmet, it could do some good.

I tried that. Really threw off my ability to accurately locate sources of noises quickly. Doing so for extended periods of time made me dizzy. Better than nothing, tho.

Never thought about that aspect of doing so. Of course, my firing is not done in the middle of combat, so such a scenario would have never occured. The dizziness makes sense too.

However, I usually have a problem with the ear opposite the gun (since I hold the gun with the right hand, the left ear).

Moonclip
May 9, 2005, 09:34 PM
My dad says they never wore any kind of hearing protection in firefights or in firing artillery in Vietnam. Maybe thats why the VA is compensating him finally for hearing loss. I've talked to old timers in that were in the Army who did not wear protection while shooting M14's or at most used cigarette butts.

I am surprised the military has not done more to find an acceptable version of the hearing muffs that block out loud sounds but allow you to hear normal sounds. It's kind of a catch 22 I suppose, you are going to damage your hearing but not hearing an enemy or a command could get you killed.

DonNikmare
May 9, 2005, 10:23 PM
I'll never risk getting a hole in the middle of my head because I'm busy plugging the ones in the sides of my head. A wise saying this is :)

Houndawg
May 10, 2005, 05:19 AM
I know from experience what a 155mm howitzer sounds like with no hearing protection. We were taking a rest behind our gun at an LFX when a fire mission came in. We all jumped up and while the chief was getting the info I was putting in my plugs. The gun next to us got ready first and fired off a round before I had my plugs in. It felt like my ear drum was going to explode. I got my plugs in in time for us to do our thing and we completed the fire mission. My ears were ringing for quite a while.

RevDisk
May 10, 2005, 05:55 AM
Seems like somethign they could do. The civvie versions can be found less than $100, so I don't think that cost has a lot to do (ever see the cost of Night Vision). maybew if they could find some way to mount those in a helmet, it could do some good.

Eh, mounting to the helmet? I'm iffy. Most likely would require a different helmet. That would be REALLY expensive. Hence, Army won't do it.

You know what I've been doing for the last few weeks? Gutting NG armories, depots, etc for every piece of signal equipment possible. I have zero radios. They even swiped my off-the-books Vietnam era radios. They swiped my made in 1947 switchboard that I loved, survived every war after WWII. As a commo geek, what am I supposed to do to provide communications? Tin cans and string? We managed to get permission to buy some of those cheap two way radios from Wal-Mart. When we are buying our communication equipment from the bargain isle of Wal-Mart, there are major problems.

Err, sorry about the rant. Bottom line, no money to replace every helmet in the Army. Not possible. So you're very limited in space. You HAVE to be able to quickly and easily attach hearing protection under that helmet. I don't think there's space for a mounting system that's actually robust enough to survive combat. The mounting bracket for NVG's are on the outside of the helmet. Same thing wouldn't work for hearing. Needs to be airtight or close enough.

I'd say buying a regular small profile headset, similiar to the Swedes, with no mounting bracket. Most likely, bright soldiers will buy their own. I did. Wish they had been thoroughly tested by the Army, but none were that I know. The official options were hearing damage (no plugs) or near deaf (plugs).



Never thought about that aspect of doing so. Of course, my firing is not done in the middle of combat, so such a scenario would have never occured. The dizziness makes sense too.

However, I usually have a problem with the ear opposite the gun (since I hold the gun with the right hand, the left ear).

Depends on the rifle, and what kind of muzzle break you use. For me as a right handed M16A2 shooter, right ear seemed best to plug. For a different person, maybe left ear is best. Not sure.

Byron
May 10, 2005, 09:22 AM
I was a grunt with the 4Th Inf Div in Nam 68-69. You do not have time to put hearing plugs in when a firefight starts.You jeoporize your life and someone else's. I do have serious hearing loss and wear two hearing aids given by the VA.You have to be able to hear in combat. I knew of no man who had them.
Byron

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