How Do Soldiers Keep Their Ears Protected While In Combat?

How Do Soldiers Keep Their Ears Protected While In Combat?

One thing that is never faithfully recreated in movies and video games is the sheer power and volume of an explosion or a gunshot. On the big screen, characters will just shrug off explosions that were feet away that would leave someone not able to hear in real life. Some movie characters should be deaf ten times over.

With all of the explosions and gunfire that are present in modern warfare, it is a wonder that every veteran does not come home permanently deaf. You may be wondering how this is the case, so we are going to be looking at some methods of ear protection that are used by militaries around the world.

History Of Military Ear Protection

One would assume that military leaders would consider it essential to preserve the hearing of their subordinates throughout history, but ear protection in the military is only a recent invention. As recently as the First Gulf War, American soldiers were still not equipped with ear protection.

Old Army Hearing Protector

While it may be shocking that those high up in the military hierarchy did not care for soldiers’ hearing, even in the 1990s, you may be wondering why soldiers would need ear protection earlier. Even without the sounds of jets and tanks, war can be a deafening experience, even during the middle ages.

Think about the sound that a piece of metal makes when it is struck by another object which is equally massive, now imagine thousands of swords, spears, axes, and shields colliding. When all of this occurs at the same time, it creates a piercing roar that makes it difficult to think accordingly. 

Ear protection in the military was implemented rather recently, which is quite surprising, as you would expect action to have taken place in the Vietnam War at the very least. As lately as 2010, there have been American troops going into combat without any form of combat-capable ear protection.

Risks Of Entering Combat Without Ear Protection

  • Full or partial deafness, both temporary and permanent
  • Hemorrhaging of the eardrums
  • Ruptured eardrums
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased risk of heart disease in later years

What Are Military Ear Protectors Like?

The ear protection that is used by soldiers is not comparable to the ear protection that you will find in use in most of the civilian sector. While ear muffs and ear plugs that are used in civilian jobs tend to block out noise, military ear protection has to accomplish something slightly different.

Putting On Ear Protection

When in combat, situational awareness is one of the most essential things in the world, if you don't know what's going on around you, you will likely end up dead. How can ear protectors allow you to hear your surroundings without allowing gunshots and explosions to deafen you?

In practice, you will find that military ear protectors use a simple system of noise filtration instead of pure noise isolation like standard models. This makes it so the ear protectors amplify that quieter, ambient noises but sounds which are past a certain threshold are diminished significantly.

This system ensures that you do not end up going deaf because your ear protectors weren't working but it also allows you to hear an insurgent rising out of cover, ready to open fire. While these ear protectors may be more advanced, they are not unattainable for a civilian; there simply isn't much use for them.

Causes Of Ear Damage In The Military

You may be wondering what the potential causes of ear damage would be for soldiers, so we have assembled a short section to go over some of the most common reasons. Of course, the single greatest contributor to hearing loss in soldiers is gunfire, which is far louder than many people think.

Aside from gunfire, there are explosives that you may have to utilize, and armored vehicles that make a commotion which is nearly unbearable. Soldiers who perform the role of mechanized infantry, and go into combat alongside their fighting vehicles need ear protection because of their vehicles more than anything else.

Soldier Aiming With Rifle

Of course, soldiers who are on aviation details will also have to wear ear protection thanks to the deafening noise of the turbines which are used in jets and helicopters. There are many reasons why a soldier would need ear protection, and the reasons we have provided have barely scratched the surface.


Ear protection is crucial for soldiers; more so than in any other occupation since their hearing may determine the outcome of life or death situation. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments down below.




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