Military Helmet Sensor Data: What does it show?

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Two years ago, sophisticated sensors were implanted in military helmets of some 7,000 troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The purpose of the sensors was to evaluate the extent of concussions and  brain trauma injuries caused by IEDs and other combat related incidents.  According to the military video shown below, data from these sensors was downloaded monthly to a computer terminal  and then forwarded to a “secure” data center in Aberdeen, MD for analysis.

 

To date, SFTT is not aware that the Department of Defense (DOD) has shared any of this information with the public. However, the recent decision by the military to award a new helmet sensor contract to BAE Systems strongly suggests that we are dealing with no trivial issue.  Indeed, the recent release of the comprehensive US Army report entitled Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention and increased media attention at the extent of brain trauma injuries within the military would argue that greater public disclosure is well-advised to deal with this growing problem.

As recent history shows, the US Army and DOD are unwilling to share relevant data with the public that might suggest that the equipment provided to our brave warriors is deficient.   In fact, Roger Charles, the Editor of SFTT, was obliged to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to obtain forensic records of troops killed with upper torso wounds to evaluate the effectiveness of military-issue body armor.   A  federal judge in Washington, D.C. recently 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 Roger Charles and those in SFTT who have followed this issue for several years, it is unlikely that the US Army will open their kimono and confirm what most already know:  the body armor issued to our troops was not properly tested and is most likely flawed.

Full disclosure is generally the “right” decision and it would be useful for the US Army to share the helmet sensor data with the public to help address a growing problem for the men and women who have served in harm’s way and their families.   The American public can handle the truth!

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How you can support our troops with more than lip service

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I have been pondering for some time what more I could do to help promote Soldiers For The Truth’s Basic 5 Campaign. My latest effort has been to inform politicians running for congressional and statewide offices of our cause. Politicians are never more accessible than when running for office, so my plan is to take advantage of that situation and that is what I did!

Last Saturday I attended a private reception in Arkansas for several politicians running for Congress, both US Senate and the House of Representatives, and several running for statewide positions (Governor, Lt. Gov. & Secretary of State). All of them were unaware of the issues that our soldiers face with body armor, helmets & helmet liners, rifles, side arms and boots until I informed them.

By taking advantage of this situation I was able to educate them about the plight of our troops with respect to The Basic 5 and the mission of Soldiers For The Truth and lobby them for their future support if elected.

Private receptions generally are a matter of paying to attend, not a specific party affiliation. Many can be very low cost to attend such as the one I attended for only $50 per person. For $50 I received complete access to all of the candidates in attendance. Once I started speaking to them about Soldiers For The Truth and the Basic 5, I was able to engage them actively in the conversation. One politician put it very well by saying,  “Who could not support that effort”!

The key points that I outlined were as follows:

  • Let me tell you about a non-profit organization that I am involved with that only wants the BEST personal protective equipment for our troops serving in harm’s way, Soldiers For The Truth.  I was clear to tell them that we do not want money, but “their help” in getting what our troops need to have and the best opportunity to accomplish their mission and come home alive and in one piece!
  • Fact: Our troops do NOT have the best available body armor and that better commercially available body exists, but our troops are not allowed to wear it. The Army has issued a “Safety of Use” message banning all commercially available body armor even though a law exist that allows soldiers to buy commercially available armor, and to be reimbursed. But, then in its latest Catch-22, the Army will promptly confiscate it!
  • Fact:  The helmets that are issued to our soldiers will not stop a bullet and are merely compressed Kevlar fibers in the shape of a helmet! The helmet support pads issued by the military causes as many injuries as they try to prevent. This because the issued pads transmit too much of the shock wave from an IED blast and the fact that they burn when exposed to fire after an explosion. The fact is that the incidence of head, face and neck burns have climbed exponentially. Also, Operation Helmet has sent 51,000 sets of helmet pad upgrades to our troops and their pads are fire retardant!
  • The rifle (M-16 & M-4) are a 55 year old design and even with the upgrades through the years can jam (and do so frequently in harsh environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan) and the small caliber bullets lack the lethality needed in the war on terror. Also, it’s been recently revealed about the Wanat Valley incident in Afghanistan July 2008 where our soldiers were engaged in an hours-long fire fight that many of the rifles failed to continue to fire as that fire fight drug on. This resulted in the loss of 9 of our troops and many more wounded. I pointed out that the Army’s response was to study changes to the current rifle or adopting 1 of 2 other rifles after a 2 years study! I emphasized after a 2 year study!
  • The pistol we issue is ineffective, lacks enough lethality and has inherent problems that have caused many injuries to our troops and even some deaths!
  • The boots we issue our troops are not proper for the mission, climate or terrain. Many soldiers who can afford them buy a different set of boots to use in combat!  The heat in our theaters of combat absolutely cooks a soldier’s feet in the issued boots. Many soldiers are forced to wear them anyway because they cannot afford the $150 or more to buy a mission appropriate boot!
  • After covering these items (which can be done in a few short minutes), I asked for their help and support. Not one said that they would not help support our cause! Now I am aware that “lip service” is routinely given to pacify a constituent, but all I spoke to seemed sincere. Not being naïve, I fully realize that they will need to be reminded of the issues and the commitment they gave me to help if elected!

As I stated in the beginning; NONE of the politicians were aware of any of the issues concerning the “BASIC 5” pieces of equipment. If we do not expend the effort to tell them, inform them, prompt them and prod them, then things will never change and we’ll continue to have needless preventable loss of our troop’s lives.

The sad fact is that soldiers die in war. But, if they had been issued or simply allowed to use the BEST personal protective equipment available, many deaths would have been prevented.

What have YOU done today to make a difference and help our troops serving at the tip of the spear?

Isn’t it time you started to make a difference for them?

The time for action is now!  With the current political environment many new House members and Senators may take office, and access to those currently serving has never been easier. If they remain unaware of the BASIC 5, then we can expect that our troops will continue to die needlessly without the gear that could very well save their lives!

Action you can take today to make a difference:

  • Make a donation to Soldiers for the Troops.
  • Download and print the SFTT brochure and pass it to your friends and inform them of the problems our troops face.
  • Call your Senators and Congressman today and ask them for action on the BASIC 5 and be prepared to tell them what the BASIC 5 is!
  • Call the office of your State’s Governor and demand that they insist that the National Guard has access to the BEST 5 pieces of equipment!

Nothing will change unless you take the steps necessary to make it happen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines  do so much for us, isn’t it time that we repay them and do something to help them? I say yes and the time is now.

John Grant

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More on Military Helmet Recall

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We had previously reported that the US Army had recalled 44,000 military helmets that failed to meet the required government mandated test standards.  The manufacturer, ArmorSource in Hebron, Ohio, is now under investigation by the Department of Justice.  To determine if you have been issued a defective helmet, please consult the guide below that was furnished by Stars and Stripes:

Defective Helmet Checklist

In an interesting, but by no means surprising development, the Stars and Stripes reports that these defective military helmets had actually been subcontracted to UNICOR, the Federal Prison Industries.  A spokesperson for UNICOR indicates that production has been suspended.  Apparently, a new investigation has been instituted to determine how many other military contracts have been awarded to the Federal Prison Industries.

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