U.S. Government Loses FOIA Ruling on Body Armor Records

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Thanks to superb pro bono legal representation by a team from the NYC office of Kirkland & Ellis, LLC, a federal district judge has issued his ruling 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. The ruling was characterized in the following way by a news service covering legal issues:

U.S. Loses FOIA Ruling on Body Armor Records

 (CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered the Army’s medical examiner to release information about the effectiveness of body armor used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or to justify the decision to withhold it.   (For the complete Courthouse News article, see: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/08/16/29630.htm )       

As supporters of SFTT know, we have, to no avail, for several years requested that these records be reviewed by the appropriate oversight bodies of the US Congress. It was only after this baffling refusal that SFTT’s editor requested the records under the FOIA. To no one’s surprise, DOD denied SFTT’s request.   Under the brilliant guidance and with the incredible support of Kirkland & Ellis’ NYC office, SFTT’s editor filed a new request, and that request was basis for the complaint in federal district court upon which the judge issued this ruling.    

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.

 

So, why has DOD not released the responsive records, i.e., the Firearm Wound Charts and body armor description sheets?

Roger Charles

Editor SFTT

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Colonel David Hackworth 5th Anniversary Celebration

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SFTT Chair Eilhys England Hackworth Announces 5th Anniversary Celebration

Colonel David “Hack” Hackworth, my dear late husband, died in my arms five years ago this month. As of May 1st, to celebrate Hack’s unique life and legacy, Soldiers For The Truth is launching a year-long 5th Anniversary Celebration  to honor his lifelong dedication to America’s frontline troops.

Our first event will be a public wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery planned for May 22 to honor Hack’s legacy.  I will be joined by Soldiers For The Truth board members and distinguished guests as we first honor him at his gravesite and then present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This event is open to the public and I hope you consider joining SFTT as we commemorate Hack’s life and his many contributions to America’s greatest treasure, its fighting men and women.

More immediately, in conjunction with introducing our newly-reconstructed website (www.SFTT.org) the Foundation is kicking off our tribute year with the appointment of Richard May, Director, Communications and LTC (R) Jaime Martinez, Director, Hackworth Legacy.

Richard (“Rick”) W. May, who served in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon from 1969 to 1971, joins us after an extensive career in international banking; he presently both runs several internet businesses and has joined his wife Sheila in Therese Saint Clair, a stationery store located in Greenwich, CT.  A self-taught computer-technology specialist, Rick has already leveraged his extensive business acumen and computer-tech skills to manage a host of communications across the digital spectrum including—fortunately for SFTT—ramrodding our site reconstruction as a volunteer. “It is an honor and a privilege to continue on with my ‘service’ to SFTT.  Supporting the brave young men and women who defend our freedoms,” Rick told me, “is an easily acquired addiction.”

LTC (R) Jaime Martinez is joining SFTT after recently retiring from 25 years of service in the Army as a career Infantryman.

While SFTT has captured the attention of the Beltway military procurement community and the US Congress and engaged with them in the urgent need for improving the equipment issued to our often-embattled frontline troops, we still have a long way to go to get our warriors the right stuff to make it home alive and in one piece.

So we’re also launching our first membership drive. First, because our wonderful pro bono lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis have re-written our by-laws to allow for members. At last you can officially support SFTT’s noble efforts either by joining up – or, of course, otherwise contributing to our critical cause. Only by standing together can we ensure that America’s sons and daughters, those brave heroes who daily risk their lives on forgotten and desolate battlefields, have a better shot at returning safely to their beloved country.

Other 5th Anniversary events already scheduled include our presenting former Senator and SFTT close advisor Bob Kerrey with our SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE AWARD this October 15th and on Sunday November 14th we’ll be hosting our annual Veterans Day Rock & Roll Party (Vietnam era music in honor of the vets from that sad war—where we’ll also celebrate Hack’s November 11th birthday!) at the Second Congregation Church of Greenwich.

Hope to see you all everywhere.

Eilhys England Hackworth

SFTT Chair

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