Commandos/Special Forces troops don't wear helmets?

Well, it’s a small question…In the movies (Like “Executive Decision”, or “Die hard II”) at least, commandos are usually shown going into battle without wearing helmets, often a beret or a ski cap, or some such. Is this just a Hollywood cliche? I would think that commandos would be even MORE likely to wear body armor in the kinds of situations they go into.

Well, thanks for your time,
Ranchoth

In the book and “Black Hawk Down” the Delta commandos wear those little black plastic hockey helmets. The rationale is that mobility, comfort, and agility are more important than protection. Special Forces depend on surprise and speed, if they get into a big firefight, they’ve already failed. Ideally, they want to be gone before the enemy knows they’re around. The book says that the biggest risk to their heads are typically smacking into pipes and whatnot as they charge into tight quarters, thus the light helmet is fine. Obviously, that wasn’t the case in that situation.
Another aspect is that SpOps have an almost unheard of amount of personal freedom for the military. They can pretty much wear whatever they want, so a lot choose to go with comfort rather than safety.

errr…

Make that in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down”

I know that delta force members wear what are essentially biking/mountain climbing helmets, which couldn’t possibly stop a bullet. I imagine it’s because special forces are meant for quick strikes without a lot of return fire. They’re trained to neutralize threats before they become threats. Plus, most of their attacks would be at close range, where you’d have to be wearing a couple inches of ceramic armor to stop a bullet from entering your skull…

They do tend to wear helmets in most situations, but not the kevlar types general military folk wear. They are smaller and lighter. Special Forces have a lot more variety in their uniforms, and can get a lot more task-specific in what they take. Toy sized versions can be seen here:

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/opsgear/headgear.html

Helmets aren’t designed to stop direct hits from a rifle. They are there to stop shrapnel. Although they could deflect a glancing blow.

What Reeder said. I know the man that designed the “Fritz”-style composite helmet, and it’s not intended to stop a squarely-placed rifle bullet, although it would seriously degrade one. It might stop a pistol bullet, but not at close ranges. It’s purpose is to protect against the number-one killer on the modern battlefield: Fragmentation.

Fragments tend to be small, light, ballistically sub-optimal, and only moderately fast beyond a short distance from the bursting charge. As such, the helmet is able to either withstand, trap, or degrade the ballistic performance of most fragments.

Special Ops Forces sometimes are expected to get into firefights, although it’s generally in ambush-type situations. They are not main-force assault troops, and are generally not expacted to be in situations where large quanities of fragments are flying about, and so are in less need of the relatively heavy infantry helmet. Speed, light weight, and ability to sense the surroundings are much more important, so the SpecOps types wear lighter helmets, basically just enough to guard against head-knocks.