Editor’s Note: We frequently get questions from readers, “What can I do to help get our kids the best-available [fill in the blank].” Well, here’s what one reader, and proud father of a US Marine, did on his own initiative. Below is an excerpt of his letter. I think it’s worth sharing. s/f, Rog
An article “11 U.S. Troops Die Inside Iraq” in the October 19 newspaper prompts me to write you. The article goes on “So far, 70 American troops have been killed in Iraq this month. If the death toll continues at this rate, the monthly tally would be the highest since November 2004.”
Many have died due to IED’s and small arms fire. Recent tests have indicated there is a superior body armor (Dragon Skin from Pinnacle Armor) available which not only is effective against small arms fire, but also shrapnel from IED’s. (Note: Dragon Skin is used by President Bush’s Secret Service detail.) It is important that our troops get the best commercially available body armor!
An impressive 6-minute video from “Test Lab” on the History Cable Channel reveals two important tests on this body armor and beyond these is another recently conducted at the Stanford University Medical Center which showed Dragon Skin to have excellent bullet stopping performance and weigh 50% less than conventional body armor.
A January 7, 2006 article in the New York Times covered a “Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor.” That study found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor.
I am sure you are aware of much of the controversy concerning body armor since this report was issued. Two testimonies which I’d like to discuss are as follows:
Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, director of the Force Development Office, said on June 15 before the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee – “The Army’s number one concern is the protection of the Soldier. [snip] Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) remains a centerpiece program for the Army,” “Our IBA is the best military body armor in the world. [snip] We are convinced that our Soldiers are wearing the best possible equipment right now. Commanders in the Theater of operations have the means to give their Soldiers the highest levels of protection known to the Army today.”
At the same hearing, Maj. Gen. William Catto, commanding general of the Marine Corps Systems Command, testified: “Today, there is no commercial product more capable than the equipment being issued to our Marines by the Corps.”
I and others contend that the commercially available Dragon Skin body armor is more advanced and provides much better protection than the Interceptor Body Armor currently issued to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Based on these facts, I strongly recommend:
1) Rescind the Safety Of Use Message (SOUM) 06-017 “Discontinue Use of Unauthorized Body Armor, Dragon Skin
2) Allow soldiers to purchase/and use Dragon Skin and provide a financial reimbursement for that purchase (up to $1,000 or an appropriate amount)
3) Provide for accelerated procurement and distribution of Dragon Skin body armor to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thank you for taking the time to read and take action on this important topic!
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey Mathews, PE
“Proud, but Concerned Father of a U.S. Marine”