The latest DOD IG report confirms — again — the scandalous lack of required testing for Interceptor Body Armor’s ballistic protective plates. A long-time industry insider has summarized the unstated and shocking meaning of the report: “What we have now is ‘reality testing’ where a failure is no longer a statistic, but a real live warrior.”
This simple statement strips away the Pentagon spin and exposes this ugly truth: All the crocodile tears Bob Gates can blubber while signing condolence letters will not wash away the reality that Gates, like his predecessor Don Rumsfeld, protected the players in the corrupt acquisition system whose criminal malfeasance routinely sent inferior, sub-standard body armor to our frontline troops.
Yes, it’s just that simple. Gates and Rumsfeld paid a lot of lip service to caring for our dedicated warriors, but when it came to seeing to it that something as important as protective ballistic plates were thoroughly tested before being issued to combat theaters, well, they just couldn’t be bothered.
And the congressional enablers have supported this sad state of affairs. Such stalwarts of the Military Industrial Complex as Carl Levin, John Warner, Buck McKeon, “Uncle” Ike Skelton, and Duncan Hunter (both Sr. and Jr.) should have to answer for their shameless failure to ensure proper testing of body armor before it was shipped to the bloody killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is appropriate to acknowledge the singular contribution of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who kicked off this series of investigations after reading the 2006 NYT article citing SFTT’s report on Marine casualties due to lack of side-protective plates. (The plates were sitting in warehouses in the U.S. until the NY Times article was published.)
This pathetic situation has been common knowledge inside the industry. Here’s the full quote from this most knowledgeable source cited above:
“If the defective protocol applies to the FAT (First Article Acceptance) then all subsequent production based on such a FAT is also deficient to the extent of the protocol. If this defective production lot is submitted for acceptance, any deficiency adds to the already embedded defects. There is no way to reconstitute a particular production lot once it has been issued and the product undergoes “use” stress. To certify what is now issued is to evaluate each plate physically to a non-destructive test [i.e., the vaunted field x-raying of plates by both the Army and the Marine Corps]. This accomplishes nothing. What we have now is ‘reality testing’ where a failure is no longer a statistic, but a real live warrior. “
This longtime insider is pointing out that by failing to properly test the plates during the acquisition process, the “reality test” is performed in combat on the plate of a “real live warrior” by the bullets of an equally live enemy combatant.
And how does the Army choose to respond to its indefensible conduct on the issue of flawed or non-existent testing that results in issuing sub-standard, inferior protective plates? In the NY Times article of August 17, 2011, they’ve “doubled down.”
The Army’s previous incredible claim was that no trooper has died because of defective body armor. An Army spokesman has now expanded that specious claim to state that no trooper has even suffered a wound due to defective protective plates!!
Here’s the quote:
“The body armor in use today is performing as it was intended. We are continuing to research our data and as of now have not found a single instance where a soldier has been wounded due to faulty body armor.”
If this blatantly false claim is true, why won’t DOD release the forensic records held by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology which SFTT has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, and which document the performance of ballistic protective plates for every KIA and WIA?
Instead of releasing these records and these records. Indeed, when the federal judge recommended that the attorneys representing SFTT sit down with government lawyers to work out a compromise on what data would be released, the U.S. Department of Justice flatly refused to even meet with SFTT’s attorneys!
As one close observer of this sad story responded today to the latest limited, modified hangout from the DOD IG:
“As long as they can keep the pathology studies under wraps, they can continue to tell lies with impunity.”