A couple of days after arriving at KAF in February I was issued a Tier II Ballistic Groin Protection or, as its universally known, “the diaper”. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do with it or why I was getting one, the groin protector (or “dick flap”) was already a standard part of our Personal Protetetie Equipment (PPE). How much protecting did my man parts need really? I signed for it and, like most people, immediately put it at the bottom of my B bag assuming it was just another piece of issued Army gear that I’d never use. A diaper in combat, really?
For the first few months of the deployment I never wore the diaper and forgot I even had one. Then my company moved to a new area of operations and our new BN’s policy was the diaper was a mandatory part of our PPE, to be worn at all times outside the wire. Rummaging through duffels followed along with the predictable chorus of complaints. “This thing is going to chafe so bad”, “Its 130 degrees out, do you realize how sweaty things are going to get down there?”, “how am I supposed to go to the bathroom with this thing?” etc, etc.
Our new AO often seemed liked it had more IEDs then people. We were unfortunate enough to have IED strikes and we quickly learned first hand how valuable the diaper was. The IED blast would be initiated (usually) from a pressure plate, causing the explosion to go up from the victim’s feet. In treating a casualty you could see the severe damage done to their legs and feet while also seeing how the diaper had protected the groin area. The dick flap just didn’t offer the protection the diaper did.
Thats not to say some of the earlier complaining wasn’t valid. It did make things quite hot and sweaty down there. It was a process just to take a piss. Initially it was uncomfortable but I quickly got used to it the point where I often forgot I had it on. Wearing a diaper in a truck will make your butt fall asleep in about two minutes. Some guys took them off whenever they went out mounted but I always made sure all my guys had theirs’ on. Sometimes mounted patrols can quickly become dismounted ones and usually its because of something unexpected (rollovers, IED strikes).
We figured out how to roll it up in the back when you were on the COP or FOB and the pain of looping it through your belt became easier with practice. The inconvenience and discomfort was mitigated by the simple fact that the diaper works. My men and I have seen it work, up close and personal and I wouldn’t leave the wire now without one on. That’s not to say they ever stopped complaining about it, they are still soldiers after all.