Every couple of years or so (and sometimes more frequently) US Army body armor testing procedures are called into question by investigating authorities. There used to be a saying among Army troops “that you never had time to do things right, but you always had time to do them again.” Well, apparently in this modern army, you don’t even have “to do things right” if 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, have anything to say about it. And they do!
These talking heads continue to insist that we have the “best body armor in the world” despite a systemic failure to apply appropriate test procedures. They simply dismiss any compelling evidence to the contrary as demonstrated by their well-orchestrated campaign against the latest DOD IG report on improper testing of Interceptor Body Armor Inserts.
Now, Gen. Phillips and his buddies at Ft. Belvoir believe that the public and our Congressional leaders have short memories and they can simply talk their way out of this most recent disclosure that something is dreadfully wrong in our military procurement system. They just may well succeed, if past history is any indication.
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.
It’s time to for Congressional leaders and our military brass to do the “right thing” and appoint leaders who are more interesting in the well-being and safety of our troops than military equipment suppliers. SFTT thanks Congresswoman Louise Slaughter for instigating the latest study. We now urge you and your Congressional colleagues to follow-up.