Thursday 13 March 2014 by Alison Wishart. No comments
Opinion, views and commentary, Personal Stories, Ned Kelly, body armour, DSTO

Day 5 - Ned Kelly would be jealous

What do Ned Kelly and modern Australian soldiers have in common? Body armour! Ned fashioned his out of metal, while the scientists in the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) have spent years coming up with a sophisticated protective human shell. Like everything in the Australian Defence Force, it is commonly known by its abbreviation: MCBAS.

The Modular Combat Body Armour System fits like a vest that has special inserts - heavy duty ballistic plates, lighter 'soft armour' (like an armadillo) and 'stab and spike' inserts for the front and back. Getting into it is not easy, but it is designed to come apart quickly by just pulling on a rip cord. You can attach a medical kit, ammunition, water bottle and all manner of useful stuff to the outer shell. It really is amazing technology.

I wanted to include some photos of the MCBAS elements, but they did warn us against posting information that could be dangerous if it got into the wrong hands... then I found this on the web anyway!

So when I am weighed down by 23kg of body armour, trying to stay safe in the MEAO but still move around, I will think of Ned, Dan, Joe and Steve and hope I don't have to fight for my life like they did.


Twelve months ago I went to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) with the Australian War Memorial. I was working on an oral history-photographic project. The core part of the project was interviewing and photographing 19 currently serving members of the ADF - from the army, navy and airforce - before, during and after their deployment in 2013 to the MEAO.  In another 12 months time, you should be able to see the results of this work in an exhibition which will travel around Australia.

These blog posts were written while I was in the MEAO but were not uploaded to the AWM website at that time.

I am planning to upload one blog post each day, exactly 12 months on from the actual day I was on deployment. Unfortunately this blog post is a day late due to issues with the server. We left Canberra on 12 March 2013.