Traveling to Pakistan...need a vest.

dynastar666

Member
May 20, 2010
121
Burlington, VT
I'm going to be traveling to Pakistan in December/January or March to cover the relief effort after the devastating flooding that occurred during this past summer. I am part of an organization, founded by my friends, that creates free promotional videos, photos, and marketing materials for NGOs working in regions devastated by war, natural disaster, famine, etc. We have experience shooting in a variety of hostile environments but nothing with such a direct threat specifically to westerners. We will have security people but to what extent I am no completely, more than likely it will be either UN or private contractors/locals. It has been mentioned that purchasing at least a Level III-A (ideally Level-IV with rifle plates) vest and ballistic helmet would be a prudent investment. Does anyone have any experience with this? The thought of needing this has me scared but this profession is something I've always wanted to do so the benefits and excitement outweigh the risks.


This is the rig used by one of our members older brothers while filming in Afghanistan...our set up is almost identical.


[Broken External Image]:http://documentarytech.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/dennis_web21.jpg
 

unlisted

Lifetime VIP Donor
May 20, 2010
7,333
NA
One suggestion- make sure it does NOT look like military.. (use non NATO colors) I'm sure you can understand why...
 

dynastar666

Member
May 20, 2010
121
Burlington, VT
We were leaning towards getting dark blue vests with the option to add a velcro named plate with the words "PRESS" across it. Would a concealable vest be better? I don't know if you can use rifle plates in a concealable vest.
 

Ben E.

Member
May 21, 2010
2,417
Iowa, USA
I think I'd be going straight for a plate carrier vest instead of any type of soft body armor. Soft body armor isn't going to stop any rifle rounds, and that's mostly what you'd be up against over there.
 

Stendec

Member
May 21, 2010
816
I'd contact the AP or one of the major networks and see how they are kitting out their people. There are also training programs for media types going overseas that they could steer you towards. I'd hesitate before going with just the rifle plates, as you won't get the coverage that a properly fitted vest will give you. IEDs are just as much, or more, of a concern than getting shot. You'll need eye protection, also, though I wish more guys would ditch the shades when talking to the locals - eye contact can mean a lot. I wouldn't put any form of identifier on the vest - if it isn't a camo pattern you won't be mistaken for military, but if you identify yourself as press you may be specifically targeted.


You'll also want your own blow-out kit, tourniquets and training in how to use them.
 

dynastar666

Member
May 20, 2010
121
Burlington, VT
Stendec said:
I'd contact the AP or one of the major networks and see how they are kitting out their people. There are also training programs for media types going overseas that they could steer you towards. I'd hesitate before going with just the rifle plates, as you won't get the coverage that a properly fitted vest will give you. IEDs are just as much, or more, of a concern than getting shot. You'll need eye protection, also, though I wish more guys would ditch the shades when talking to the locals - eye contact can mean a lot. I wouldn't put any form of identifier on the vest - if it isn't a camo pattern you won't be mistaken for military, but if you identify yourself as press you may be specifically targeted.

You'll also want your own blow-out kit, tourniquets and training in how to use them.
One of our members brothers is a NY Times photog who was recently embedded in Afghanistan and he's been advising us on what we'll need. I've found some vest that are Level-IIIA with the option of adding rifle plates to make them Level-IV. I've got plenty of eye protection already, I'm 100% blind in my left eye and I don't mess around with my vision.


I hadn't even thought of the blow-out kit.
 

Stendec

Member
May 21, 2010
816
I'd like to be able to direct you to some specific sites, but I'm "organizing" my bookmarks which means I've lost a bunch of them. Google "predeployment health" for Afghanistan, and check with the State Department, CDC and WHO on Central Asian health issues. Everybody thinks about getting shot or exploded, but there are some nasty bugs, large and small, that can really mess you up if you aren't careful. Flooding brings out the worst in infectious public health hazards, and when it's in a country that doesn't exactly have the best sanitary infrastructure to begin with....


Robert Young Pelton has an entertaining site about travel hazards, but it tends to be a little colorful. The US Army Institute of Infectious Disease and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology also have good info if you dig for it.


There are a lot of reliable armor manufacturers that haven't had the controversy that Dragon Skin has. There is no upside to being the beta-tester for body armor.


Sorry, I'm hyper-paranoid when it comes to exotic diseases, having spent time in the tropics. Depending on your level of support and the availability of Western medical care, you may want to think about packing in your own IV start kit, syringes, hypodermics and suture sets. I was able to fit enough in a small Tupperware container, well sealed, that I didn't have to worry about getting pronged with used equipment that had been jammed into who knows who with who knows what. Flushing what passed for drinking water through a cannula DID NOT meet my standards for sterility.


If you'll spend much time in helos or mil aircraft you may want some form of hearing protection. Sharp aircrews will have it for you, but if you get stuck in a UN or Pakistani ship, it'll probably be old, Russian and light on amenities. If you get plugs make certain that they will equalize pressure as you gain and loose altitude or you'll blow an eardrum. Pilot's supply places will carry them.
 

DaveCN5

Member
May 22, 2010
703
South East Michigan
My specialization in Criminal Justice is private security with a primary focus on outsourced military security contractors such as Erinys, ESS, KBR (Haliburton), and Blackwater that are currently opearting in the Middle east including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and many others.


Traveling is the most dangerous thing for Westerners to do in the Middle East and that is when most attacks occur. On average there are 1 or 2 attacks on non-military personnel every week. The most common type of attack is explosives utilizing car bombs (cars parked on the side of the street waiting for you to pull up next to them and via merges from roads and highways), IED's, annd even mortar attacks. Second is ambushes from behind. It is not uncommon for a lightly armed non-military personnel (gun on hip only) to be KIA. Unfortunately most security companies are not complying with the Aegis briefings to keep security companies safe and informed.


If I were you, I would be wearing a concealable vest and if you have money to invest into it, a helmet cam. You don't know what's going to happen and you want to always be alert and ready to react to anything at a moment's notice, so I wouldn't want to always be fumbling with an expenisve camera in my hands. Start thinking about clothing too. Average temperatures are near 120 degrees F. Stay safe brother!
 

EVModules

Member
May 16, 2010
864
Deer Park, WA
Just a thought, perhaps learn a few phrases of the local language to identify yourself? Along with a small language booklet of some sort?
 

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