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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  1. Roger Charles  August 22, 2011

    see Smedly Butler’s “War Is A Racket”…