In yet another scathing report by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense entitled “Ballistic Testing for Interceptor Body Armor Inserts Needs Improvement,” the IG “determined that ballistic testing and quality assurance for Inteceptor Body Armor did not have proper controls to ensure that the ballistic inserts met contract requirments.”
The IG report on shoddy US Army test procedures was released on August 1, 2011 and claims that the “Army Program Manager Soldier Equipment (PM SEQ) could provide only limited assurance that approved ballistic materials for approximately 5 million inserts on seven contracts met the contract requirements. Specifically, the following test procedures were not followed by PM SEQ:
- On two contracts no testing was performed because the PM SEQ “had no protection performance concerns on the inserts;”
- On all seven contracts, the PM SEQ did not always use the correct size ballistic insert for FATs, use a consistent methodology for measuring the proper velocity, or enforce the humidity and temperature requirements;
- On six of the seven contracts, the PM SEQ did not require weathered and altitude tests.
The PM SEQ’s response to these glaring test deficiencies is the following: ” . . . the size of the ballistic inserts , humidity and temperature would not affect test results . . . and the weathered and altitude tests were eliminated to expedite FAT in support of the urgent wartime requirement for ballistic inserts.
To readers of SFTT, this latest snub and blatant disregard for the IG Reports by the Program Manager for Soldier Equipment should come as no surprise. Nevertheless, it is hard to reconcile his cavalier approach to testing body armor plates considering the fact that the US Marine Corps X-Ray testing have concluded that no less than 5% of ceramic plates are defective before they even get to the battlefield.
As late as October 2010, US Army Brigadier General Peter N. Fuller, the Program Executive Officer of the Soldier Systems Center at Fort Belvoir insisted that “we have the best body armor by far” in response to a similar scathing report by the GAO.
For years, SFTT has campaigned to help insure that our troops have the best body armor available. At every step of the way we have been stonewalled by the very same people entrusted to supply that equipment to our troops. A Federal judge has asked the Defense Department to reach an out-of-court settlement on Senior SFTT Editor Roger Charles’ FOIA which provides vital information on the efficacy of ceramic body armor plates.
The sad reality is that defective ceramic plates are responsible for many battlefield casualties and deaths that could have been avoided. How much longer does the public and our troops have to put up with these lies?
Really, imagine citing “urgent wartime requirements” for a war that has been going on for over 10 years and not testing ceramic plates for “altitude, temperature or weathering” when the battlefied is Afghanistan. After more than 5 years of sounding the alarm on the deficiency of military body armor, it is time to say goodbye to these hopeless bureaucrats at Ft. Belvoir and their supervisors at the Pentagon. The safety of young men and women serving in harm’s way is far too important to be entrusted to them.