US Troops With Faulty Body Armor Deserve Recalls
Can you imagine the outrage if Toyota introduced a new “family vehicle” without airbags or seat belts?
Like most citizens, our troops deserve at least the same level of protection that drivers of the 4.2 million automobiles Toyota recalled earlier this month to fix a faulty accelerator pedal. Frankly, Toyota’s assertion that it plans “to make better cars” sounds far more reassuring than Secretary of the Army John McHugh’s recent announcement that the Army has finally committed to an independent review of body armor for US troops.
Despite overwhelming evidence of faulty Army test procedures and comprehensive investigative reporting by Roger Charles of Soldiers for the Truth and both CBS and NBC, the US Army general staff has staunchly defended Interceptor Body Armor by Point Blank Body Armor. In fact, the US Army has issued stern directives to troops who might be tempted to use alternative body armor. Brigadier General Mark Brown, Commanding General of the Soldier Systems Center (SSC), rigorously defended US Army testing procedures and the Army’s cozy relationship with military suppliers in a televised interview with NBC’s Lisa Myers.
Now two years later, the General Account Office has issued a devastating report calling for the independent testing of body armor. The 110-page report calls into question the integrity and soundness of Army testing procedures and suggests that there was more than incompetence involved in both Army test procedures and government contract awards.
After initially mounting a public relations campaign to discredit the GAO’s findings, Secretary John McHugh finally bit the bullet and late last month requested the National Research Council (NRC) to perform an independent assessment of the Army’s body armor testing. Secretary McHugh states that they are “committed to providing our war fighters with world-class equipment, and are confident that our body armor continues to defeat the threat to our soldiers." Mind you, Secretary McHugh’s statement indicates that the NRC will evaluate the US Army’s testing procedures, but this in no way guarantees that our frontline troops will receive better body armor anytime soon.Continued on the next page