In yet another indication that our military procurement process is out of control is the news that Point Blank – who makes much of the body armor vests worn by our military - has finally settled a long-standing suit with the Department of Justice.
According to a news release cited by Thomson Reuters, “The government asked for “tens of millions” of dollars in penalties and damages, saying that from 1999 to August of 2005 the company (Point Blank, formerly DHB Industries) made bullet proof vests using defective Zylon fiber made by Japan’s Toyobo Co even though it knew or disregarded the fact that the fabric was defective. Other companies including Hexcel Corp., Second Chance Body Armor, Armor Holdings and Gator Hawk Armor, used this fabric as well, according to a statement from the government issued when it settled with Hexcel in 2007 for $15 million.”
“The settlement, which Point Blank submitted to bankruptcy court for approval, will allow its proposed sale in bankruptcy court to private equity firm Gores Group to move forward, according to the documents.”
Despite Point Blank’s long record of delivering substandard and often untested equipment to the US military, Point Blank was recently awarded another $30 million contract to produce the outer body armor vests. I realize that it is beyond the comprehension of most taxpayers and the service members who wear Point Blank’s armor, but this appears to be modus operandi for the folks in charge of protecting the well-being our troops in combat.
As I wrote earlier, “Let’s face it, our military and civilian leaders don’t give a damn! If they did, the people responsible for testing body armor and conducting fair and impartial testing would have long ago been fired. Furthermore, those who continue to quibble and provide false information to Congressional leaders and the public, such as, Lt. Gen. William Phillips (principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Col. Cole, Project Manager for Soldier Protection, and US Army Brigadier General Peter N. Fuller, the Program Executive Officer of the Soldier Systems Center, should be relieved of command.”
Again, despite adjudicated evidence that our body armor is not reliable, our military procurement leaders still return to the same corrupt and tainted trough to equip our troops. When will the public and our Congressional leaders wake up and say “No mas”?
This is clearly a sweet deal for the Gores Group since any potential liability will have been settled or dismissed if Point Blank is to emerge from bankruptcy. Partners and Managing Directors of Gores Group should think twice before allowing the stench of corruption at Point Blank contaminate their existing investment portfolio.
Richard W. May