Interceptor Body Armor: End of a Chapter, Stench Remains

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A colleague at Stand For The Troops (“SFTT”) sent me an email a few days ago informing me that David H. Brooks, the founder and former chief executive of DHB Industries, died on Thursday at the age of 61 in a prison in Danbury, CT.

david brooks and co

David Brooks and co-defendant Sandra Hatfield, photo source unknown

Convicted in 2010 of insider trading and “fraudulently enriching himself” with company funds, Mr. Brooks was a contractor who supplied bullet-resistant vests and other body armor to the military and other law enforcement agencies.   In particular,  DHB Industries and its successor, Point Blank Industries, supplies Interceptor Body Armor to the U.S. Army.

Interceptor Body Armor

My colleague has been following this tragic story for approximately ten years from the perspective of “boots on the ground” who rely on government-issued protective gear to insure their safety.

As readers of SFTT are aware, senior U.S. Army officials have consistently claimed that the U.S. has “the best body armor in the world” and that there have been no battlefield fatalities as a result of defective body armor.

Of course, none of these outrageous claims are true, but the U.S. Army apparently went one step further arguing that medical and survivor benefits might be withheld if personnel were wounded or died if they were not wearing mandated government-issued body armor.

There have been many GAO and IG reports condemning flawed testing procedures by the military on body armor, but little was done to correct these deviations from well-established testing protocols.   After the stench of incompetence and, perhaps corruption, could no longer be contained, in 2009 the military brass decided to kick the process into a higher sphere of bureaucratic red tape: the National Research Council.

Since then, there have been periodic recalls of defective ceramic plates, despite repeated claims by the military brass that “the recalled plates have passed all ballistic tests so Soldiers who may have been using the plates were always properly protected.”   Clearly, if the ballistic tests were flawed (and they were), then it follows that our Soldiers were not adequately protected.

In fact, for any military officer in authority to assert that that our troops were “properly protected” despite repeated IG and GAO claims to the contrary should – in my opinion – be Court-martialed.

Of course, we know that will not be the case as subsequent actions by the Beltway spin-doctors showed.

Roger Charles, editor of SFTT,  filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to have the autopsy records released on 103 military personnel who had sustained fatal wounds to the torso.  Some of these bodies were shipped back with their body armor strongly suggesting that the body armor was flawed.

Although Mr. Charles received a favorable ruling by a Federal Judge to have the records released in 2010, those records continue to remain secret as a result of continued legal gymnastics by Defense Department lawyers.  Ir is unlikely that these records will be released anytime soon.

As someone who has served in the military, I find it difficult to believe that our military leaders would expose the brave young men and women in uniform to hostile fire without the best possible protective gear.   Sure, everyone knows that military equipment may sometimes be compromised, but we would expect after action follow-up to insure that improvements are made to improve reliability.

In the case of Interceptor Body Armor, I find little evidence of a sincere effort by military leaders to deal with this problem.  Rather than face up to faulty test procedures and clear evidence of deficiencies in the body armor, our Beltway military leaders tried to spin a tale to convince Congress, the public and the men and women who serve our country that they were wearing the best protective gear.

These frauds know it was a lie. Anyone with common sense knows it is a lie. Many serving in harm’s way knew it was a lie.   Frankly, continued denial by our military leaders that consciously misled our troops on the effectiveness of body armor disqualifies them from a position of leadership.   You know who you are.

Now, you can continue to deny responsibility in the coverup, but try explaining your complicity to grieving family members who have lost a loved one through your gross incompetence and lies.

While Mr. Brooks death in prison closes one chapter in this painful saga, the stench of self-serving incompetence, dishonesty and possibly corruption continues to foul the air.

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Think Tanks and Leadership with Integrity

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I was fascinated by a recent article which appeared in the New York Times entitled “How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate America’s Influence.”

More to the point, I was surprised to see the naivete of influential people like Harvey Cox of Harvard University who couldn’t believe that think tanks could act unethically.

Sadly, the lines between “thinking” and “lobbying” have long been blurred and “corporate America” isn’t the only culprit. There are far too many instances where the DoD and the U.S. Army have employed theoretically disinterested parties to hide outright incompetence and questionable behavior from the prying eyes of the public and the warriors they lead.

Interceptor Body Armor

One needs to look no further than the despicable cover-up of the U.S. Army’s shoddy testing and deployment of substandard “Interceptor” body armor.  This cover-up has been amply covered by SFTT for close to a decade and has been the subject of several damning Inspector General Reports and the media:

For instance, take the GAO (Government Accountability Office) report of October, 2009 which recommended independent testing of body armor after their investigations had uncovered much of the same shoddy body armor testing now chronicled in the latest DOD IG report.   We listened to much of the same nonsense and double-talk from our military leaders, but in bowing to public pressure the Secretary of the Army asked the National Research Council to investigate body armor testing procedures.

I am not sure what became of this National Research Council study, but I suspect that its sole purpose was to lead Congress to think that “things are under control.”  Clearly, they aren’t.

Actually, the National Research Council is a “think tank” often employed by our government to put distance between themselves and potentially harmful setbacks to their careers.   While many believe that contracting academics will provide a “dispassionate” and science-based opinion, academicians rely on government grants.  Cynically, I for one have a difficult time believing they would bite the hand that feeds them.

In any event, the mandate of the National Research Council is to recommend new testing procedures but not opine on the blatant disregard of existing test procedures and guidelines that led to the GAO’s and IG’s damning reports.

I am quite sure that Lt. Gen. Phillips and his cohorts like Col. Cole, Project Manager for Soldier Protection, and US Army Brigadier General Peter N. Fuller, the Program Executive Officer of the Soldier Systems Center, are thrilled to see that a “disinterested” third-party had intervened to cover up their gross incompetence.

Despite much evidence to the contrary that only a blind man could ignore, Lt. Gen Phillips stated that ”I am not aware of any incident down range where the body armor (Interceptor) failed to protect against a round that it was designed to defeat.”  Ummm …

If this were true, why did the DoD turned loose a bevy of beltway lawyers to keep autopsy records secret that clearly indicated that the U.S. Army was sending men and women into combat with defective body armor?

With the support of brilliant pro bono legal representation by a team from the NYC office of Kirkland & Ellis, LLC, a federal district judge in D.C.  issued a ruling in 2010 on SFTT’s editor’s request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) for forensic records held by the Department of Defense regarding the performance of government-issued body armor.

Despite the fact that the U.S. Government lost its appeal under the FOIA some 6 years ago, the autopsy records remain under wraps thanks to the continued efforts of DoD lawyers to “bury the truth.”

In preliminary filings DOD admitted that for the two calendar years (2006 and 2007) for which records were requested 103 KIA’s died from ballistic wounds to the torso. It further admitted that only 51 of these 103 KIA’s (49.5%) had body armor plates shipped back to the US for forensic examination,  and that these 51 KIA’s had a total of 155 plates returned with the “service members.”

Of these 51 KIA’s, 18 had “body armor description sheets with information responsive” to the SFTT editor’s FOIA request. (By DOD’s own definition, a “body armor description sheet” indicates that the “body armor is not perfectly intact.”)

Assuming that only one body armor protective plate was struck in each KIA’s tactical engagement, that means that a staggering 35.3% (18 of 51) of the plates were “not perfectly intact.”

It’s hard to imagine that DOD would not release these records if they proved that although 35% of the KIA’s during the specified two-year period for whom even fairly complete records exist had “not perfectly intact” plates, not a single KIA resulted from penetration of the plates.

As a former banker who suffered through countless countless consulting firms (with a well-scripted mandate) and now a close witness to the tragedy of the military cover-up of defective body armor, I have sadly learned that “think tanks” are no substitute for ethical leadership.

The brave men and women who serve our country so valiantly deserve leaders who put the safety of their troops before their own careers.  Is this asking too much?

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SFTT News: Week Ending July 15, 2016

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

New Brain Study May Explain Some Veteran’s Agony
A new brain study may help explain the agonizing and puzzling symptoms suffered by so many combat veterans, from headaches to fuzzy thinking, military researchers reported Friday.  They found a unique pattern of scarring in the brains of men who died days or years after being in or near powerful explosions. The scarring doesn’t look like damage sustained by people with other types of brain injury, such as sports or car accidents, the team at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Maryland said.  Read more . . .

US Offering Russia Military Pact in Syria
The United States is offering Russia a new military pact against the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria, according to a leaked U.S. proposal that, if finalized, could dramatically alter America’s role in the Arab country’s five-year civil war.  The document, published by The Washington Post, calls for joint bombing operations, a command-and-control headquarters and other synchronized efforts. U.S. and Russian officials with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air operations will “work together to defeat” the extremist groups, the eight-page paper states.  Read more . . .

military dog

U.S. Military Dogs to Be Brought Home
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law last month that guarantees the safe return of all retired military dogs to the United States after serving abroad. In the past, some of these animals were left to retire overseas because they were no longer considered service dogs, and were therefore ineligible for military-funded transportation home, The Washington Times reported.   Read more . . .

Is Spider Silk the New Military Body Armor?
Kevlar has been the Army’s go-to body armor for decades, but a new technology might be challenging that paradigm. Kraig Biocraft, a bioengineering company based in Michigan, has genetically altered silkworms to produce spider silk. Today, they announced an Army contract to develop this silk, called Dragon Silk, for use in body armor.  Spider silk is one of the strongest natural fibers, but it’s difficult to produce in large amounts. Spiders are territorial and cannibalistic, so it’s nearly impossible to create a cost-effective spider farm. To combat this problem, Kraig Biocraft inserted the genes for making spider silk into silkworms. The result was a composite silk that was as strong as normal spider silk yet much easier to produce.    Read more . . .

Army is Upgrading Standard Rifle
A new U.S. Army video shows how today’s standard infantry weapon, the M4 carbine, is being updated to perform better on the battlefield. The Army is gradually converting its entire inventory of M4s to the improved M4A1 standard. Where the original M4 was capable of semi-automatic and three-round burst fire, the M4A1 trades burst fire for fully automatic. The carbine is fitted with a heavier barrel that can better withstand prolonged, full automatic firing.   Read more . . .

Damage to Pituitary Gland May Cause PTSD
When Charles Wilkinson thinks about soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) his mind jumps to a pea-size structure tucked behind the bridge of the nose and ensconced below the base of the brain. There the pituitary gland serves as the master regulator of the human endocrine system, producing vital hormones that influence growth and development—except when something goes awry.  Read more . . .

Pituitary gland

Vietnam Veteran Share Journey Coping with PTSD
Chris Lambert, who served in Vietnam, said the realities of war affected him for decades. He received three Purple Heart medals. “Almost everyone in a fire fight, sooner or later, urinates on themselves. But you never see something like that in a movie,” Lambert told ABC10 News. “So here you are in a firefight and the next thing you know, you’re wet. And the next day you don’t talk about it. Now you think you’re a coward. There’s a lot of trauma created because we haven’t been able to express ourselves.”  Read more . . .

 

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops.

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Brooks and Body Armor: Lies Kill Brave Patriots

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SFTT summarized a report yesterday from Wall Street Journal reporter Kristen Jones which reported that Body Armor King David Brooks was sentenced to jail for 17 years for a $200 million fraud scheme.   In the article, it was suggested that the Justice Department decided not  to pursue more serious charges of corruption in the military procurement process of body armor supplied to our brave young men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sadly, the stench of corruption and dishonest procurement process by our military far exceeds the 17 year “slap on the wrist” given to David Brooks.  Found below is a more gut-wrenching account of the “real” story from former  DHB President, Jim Magee.

 

This (sic the David Brooks story) goes deeper than “defective body armor.” I quit as Point Blank Body Armor’s president after designing the Intercepter vest, and managing the Arthur D. Little Modular Body Armor (Intercepter) program when my DHB boss, David Brooks agreed to a US Army procurement office demand that Point Blank meet the Army’s target price of $626 each, regardless of what had to be given up in wearer protection. The price was Army procurement’s ONLY concern. When I pointed out we would have to reduce the vest’s protective coverage areas to reduce the Kevlar costs, coverage required by the Army’s Natick R+D and PM-Soldier Intercepter spec’s, Army procurement’s response was “…that’s not our problem; make coverage changes to cut your costs if you have to, but we’re only paying $626 per vest.”

Brooks told me to cut out all of the Army’s Protection Area III, (244 sq inches of lower abdomen and kidney area coverage), “make the vest in size medium but mark them large, etc.” and cut way down on the side and shoulder coverage to make it cheaper to manufacturer.” I told him we’d be screwing the wearer, and that I would resign first.

He laughed, and I quit. Brooks was a horrible human being; consistently abusive of all around him; a belligerent, hateful person. In one particularly doped up incident (he was either over medicated or under medicated-read doped up), he yelled at me on the production floor to “fire all the niggers.” My thirty or so Haitian and Jamaican-born sewers went nuts until I physically pushed Brooks out of the plant’s loading dock, and then told them I’d give them a couple of paid hours of unearned overtime to defuse the atmosphere.

Making lots of money was Brooks only concern. He routinely told anyone who worked for him, “people were to be used.” He had no idea why short changing the war-fighter, and delivering a substandard vest – short of PM Soldier’s specs – bothered me to the point where I would walk away from a potential million dollars in income and stock. Integrity and honesty were unknown character traits in Brooks. He viewed them as “weaknesses.”

I still haven’t decided whether he was a sociopath or a psychopath. Either way, he had and has no redeeming qualities. Prison is too good for him. A violent death would have been more suitable.

While one can argue whether Brooks is a sociopath or psychopath, the fact remains that our military leadership knowingly sanctioned the use of  defective body armor.   The Inspector General has reported many body armor testing violations that have been conveniently covered up by our military leadership.  In fact, the DoD continues to  block favorable court rulings requested by SFTT to release the autopsy  reports of military personnel killed in action wearing defective body armor.

More to the point, the public has been aware for quite sometime that “something is wrong in Denmark” when NBC’s Lisa Meyer reported on quibbling within the Army over the best body armor.

The corruption goes far deeper than the simple incarceration of  David Brooks. The dreadful and dishonest sycophants who approved and promoted this defective body armor are – in my opinion – accessories to manslaughter or even worse. Why aren’t they in jail? I suspect that most have been promoted or are now in lucrative contracts as “outside consultants”  perpetuating the merry-go-round of corrupt behavior or “business as usual” in our military procurement process.

How many more brave heroes have to die to feed the insatiable greed of people like Brooks?

Thanks for coming forward Jim.  I know it has been painful.  If more concerned individuals would do so, we could weed these monsters out of positions of trust.  Our men and women in uniform deserve better.

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Body Armor King Goes to Jail

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David H. Brooks, the founder of DHB Industries Inc., a company  that supplied body armor to the U.S. military was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in a $200 million fraud scheme.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal by Kristin Jones:

 

“DHB Industries made body armor that protected the men and women of the U.S. military, who risk their lives to keep us safe,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “To David Brooks, it was merely a vehicle for plunder and a means to feed his own greed.”

Mr. Brooks was convicted of stealing more than $6 million from the company to finance a horse-racing business, and to buy a luxury car, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, $40,000 in leather-bound invitations to his son’s bar mitzvah, and a $101,000 belt buckle adorned with diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

He was also found guilty of accounting fraud intended to increase DHB’s profits and inflate the value of its inventory, the Justice Department said. After the company filed reports based on his manipulations, Mr. Brooks sold shares before the stock price plummeted and the company was delisted from the American Stock Exchange, the Justice Department said.

Well, I guess one can argue that Al Capone when to jail for tax fraud rather than murder, but David Brooks has more than corporate and securities fraud to answer for by supplying our military with defective body armor.   While Mr. Brooks may now be behind bars, the Defense Department still insist on hiding the truth of the defective Body Armor supplied to our brave young men and women serving in harm’s way.

A sad comment on our leadership by not getting the bottom of this sad story of our military procurement system.

 

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SFTT Editor Roger Charles Live on Radio

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We are thrilled to announce that  Geoff “Jeff” Metcalf will conduct a LIVE RADIO INTERVIEW with Col. Roger Charles, editor Stand For The Troops, Wed. Jan 4th at 8PM PST (11 PM EST) Topic: Procurement Scandal over Shoddy Dept. of Defense Approved body armor.    SFTT readers are encouraged to call in and listen to the interview by calling in on the following numbers:

703-836-0384 (land line, VOIP) and (cell)

703-980-7551 plus 2d land line (VOIP) 703-836-6736.

Roger Charles, Vice Chair / Secretary of Stand For The Troops

A career Marine Corps officer from 1967 to 1990, Roger Charles has enjoyed a second career as an award-winning investigative journalist. He was a member in 2004 of the 60 Minutes II production team that earned a Peabody Award for the segment “Abuse at Abu Ghraib.”

Among his other journalistic achievements: Charles was awarded a Medal for Excellence in Investigative Reporting by journalism’s Investigative Reporters and Editors (I.R.E.) association for his 1992 Newsweek cover story, “Sea of Lies,” and was an Emmy finalist for best investigative piece for the Nightlight Special “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War” in 1992.

For television, Charles has served as a consulting investigative reporter and contributor to segment development for 20/20 (a special project on the Oklahoma City bombing), ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, Frontline, Prime Time Live, BBC News, and CNN, among others.

Charles has served as an advisor on numerous stories for various print and electronic media outlets including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and The New Yorker. He has been published in Newsweek, Insight, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, Soldier of Fortune, Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, and the Marine Corps Gazette, where he served as editorial board member from 1987-1989. In 1996, Charles broke the story of the fraudulent use of combat insignia by Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations.

“I saw while I was on active duty that many of the national media that cover security and defense issues are truly ill-informed about basic things they need to perform their job properly,” says Charles of his shift to a civilian role as an investigative journalist specializing in a range of national security issues. “This just destroys any kind of credibility this reporting has for any military audience.”

In 1998, Soldiers For The Truth Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, apolitical, educational foundation whose purpose is meaningful reform of the U.S. defense establishment, was formed, with Charles serving as the editor-in-chief of its newsletter, Voice of the Grunt. Charles remained active on the non-profit’s Board of Trustees until December 2004, when an ailing Hackworth asked him to assume the foundation presidency and Charles now fills the role of Vice Chair, “The foundation was created around three issues: leadership, training, and equipment,” says Charles. “Think of a stool with three legs. Remove any one of those legs and the stool falls apart.”

 POINT BLANK SETTLES BODY ARMOR SUIT WITH DOJ

 

 

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Corruption in the Military Procurement Process: McCain Weighs In

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Senator John McCain, a decorated warrior who has sacrificed much for this country, would do well to take action rather than talk.  At a recent Congressional hearing on cuts to the military budget, Senator McCain remarked:

“As far as I’m concerned, I will fight any additional cuts in defense spending,” he added, “but I will also tell you that cost overruns as far as procurement is concerned is an insult to American taxpayers. There are efficiencies that can still be imposed.”

Now these words sound like fighting words, but what does do they actually mean?  I am to greater risks.  The question is:  How much is enough?    It seems to me that we should adjust our military budget to the nature of threat – both short and long term.   The threat today is very much different than it was during the Cold War.  Shouldn’t we be focusing our expenditures on dealing with terrorism and regional upheavals that threaten the security of the United States rather than major land wars in Europe or Asia?

What is more disturbing is Senator McCain’s indictment of cost overruns in the military procurement process.   We all know it exists.  In fact, SFTT regularly points out serial military procurement offenders that are well documented by government inspectors.  Instead of pounding your chest Senator McCain, act now to get rid of the dead weight in our military chain of command that allows this incompetence and corruption to continue.   If you are looking for heads to roll to show that you mean business, you can find these “empty uniforms”  in this SFTT article on the corruption in the procurement of body armor for troops that serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let’s make sure that accountability still exists.

Talk is cheap,  our troops and the American taxpayers want action!

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Body Armor Contracts: The Stench of Corruption

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With Wall Street protests popping up in many cities in the United States and over 150,000 signatures now collected on a new Constitutional amendment to “get the money out” of politics, it was a bit of surprise to read that Point Blank Solutions  has recently received a new $30 million order to produce “Outer Tactical Vests” for the US military.

Why should I be surprised?  Well, Point Blank Solutions has been in Chapter 11 (a court-sanctioned “voluntary reorganization” to avoid bankruptcy) since April, 2010.  One of the reasons cited by Point Bank Solutions in soliciting the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware for a Chapter 11 reorganization was the mounting legal costs associated with defending the former CEO and Founder of Point Blank Solutions, David Brooks, for tax fraud and securities fraud.     While Point Blank’s current management insist that David Brooks has no role in the company, one must certainly be disturbed by the pedigree.

The Department of Defense may have very good reasons to award large contracts to a company in Chapter 11; however, equipment reliability and the integrity of body armor testing procedures don’t seem to be high of the list of priorities mentioned by military officials.   As recently as August of this year, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense found serious flaws in the testing procedures of Interceptor Body Armor plates.   This is just one of a series of disturbing reports issued by government auditing agencies over the last several years finding major shortcomings in the test procedures used to evaluate the reliability of body armor worn by US military personnel.

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.

Will this happen?  Of course not.  The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about continues to thrive in DC.  The victims are gullible taxpayers and the young men and women who defend our country so valiantly.    The blood of these brave warriors is on our hands if we don’t insist on accountability.

Become a Member of SFTT and add your voice to help get the best protective gear and combat equipment for our Troops.   Together, we can make a change.

Richard W. May

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Body Armor Reliability: Lies, Lies and Damn Lies!

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In yet another blatant example of gross incompetence or serial lying, Lt. Gen William Phillips, the chief acquisition officer for the US Army, stated that “we want to make sure that your readers have complete and total confidence in the Army’s ability to field protective (gear) to look after its soldiers while they’re deployed in combat zones and that, internally, the soldier and their family knows that as well.”   Lt. Gen Phillips’ words of comfort to troops in the field and their families comes after yet another devastating from the DOD IG citing inadequate US Army body armor testing.

Lt. Gen Phillips (to give him the benefit of his full title) is the PRINCIPAL MILITARY DEPUTY TO THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR ACQUISITION, LOGISTICS AND TECHNOLOGY AND DIRECTOR, ACQUISITION CAREER MANAGEMENT.  With a title that long, it is clear that Lt. Gen Phillips has the ear of the top brass and civilian leadership at the Pentagon.   According to an AP News Report,  Lt. Gen Phillips goes on to state that “I’ll go on to say that I am not aware — if anyone is, please come forward — but I’m not aware of any incident downrange where the body armor failed to protect against a round (of ammunition) that it was designed to defeat.”

Well Lt. Gen. Phillips,  I’ll take the bait and come forward.  As you well know, SFTT Editor Roger Charles filed a request under the FOIA to have autopsy records of servicemenbers released which suggested defective body armor.  Despite receiving a favorable ruling from a Federal Judge in the D.C. Courts, the US Army and DOD continue to appeal the decision.   Found below is the information submitted in the preliminary filings:

As previously reported by Roger Charles and “in preliminary filings DOD admitted that for the two calendar years (2006 and 2007) for which records were requested 103 KIA’s died from ballistic wounds to the torso. It further admitted that only 51 of these 103 KIA’s (49.5%) had body armor plates shipped back to the US for forensic examination,  and that these 51 KIA’s had a total of 155 plates returned with the ‘service members.'”

“Of these 51 KIA’s, 18 had ‘body armor description sheets with information responsive’ to the SFTT editor’s FOIA request. (By DOD’s own definition, a ‘body armor description sheet’ indicates that the ‘body armor is not perfectly intact.’)

“Assuming that only one body armor protective plate was struck in each KIA’s tactical engagement, that means that a staggering 35.3% (18 of 51) of the plates were “not perfectly intact.”

With all due respect, Lt. Gen Phillips, this is more than idle speculation to suggest that there is something wrong with government-tested body armor.   After years of putting up with Beltway-spin and lack of transparency in the military procurement process, the least you can do is honor your public statement and release the forensic information to the public under a court-sanctioned FOIA.

I know it sound corny, but the public probably can “handle the truth.”   So, if you honestly want to get to the bottom of this sorry chapter in the military procurement process, then order the release of the forensic records and let the public judge for itself.   You would do yourself, our military and the country you serve a great service.  Hiding behind a bevy of Beltway lawyers is no way to lead.    Our brave men and women who serve our country deserve far more.

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IG Slams US Army Body Armor Testing Again!!

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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 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.

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