Body Armor Recall
The Washington Times reports that according to the Pentagon’s inspector general, Gordon S. Heddell, sets of ceramic body armor plates shipped to the Army and Marines was not properly tested. As a result, the Army has announced it will withdraw over 16,000 sets of the body armor, but they are also challenging the inspector general’s findings due to the lack of reports of defects in the body armor or deaths and injuries resulting from the defects.
The recall was announced just before Inspector General Heddell was to brief Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, chairperson of the House Rules Committee. Ms. Slaughter has been looking into body armor failure for some time now. The equipment that is the focus of the recall was manufactured between 2005 and 2007, and is just under two percent of the almost two million plates purchased by the Army.
Furthermore, a report last March indicated that there were problems in 16 of 28 Army contracts. In 11 of these contracts, files were inadequately kept, and it is unclear what and why the decisions were made to procure these units of ceramic body armor. The audit also shows that between January 2004 and December 2006, contracts awarded more than $5.2 billion to companies supplying the armor.
While most Army units receive ceramic body armor, Maj. Clifford Yarbrough who was with the 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan, says that Special Forces and Delta Force units received titanium plated armor. These plates were made available to these units under a separate budget, and are much more reliable that the ceramic plates issued to standard military units.
The editor of DefenseWatch, an internet site for the nonprofit foundation Soldiers for the Truth, as well as a retired Marine, Roger Charles, has been investigating the body armor issue for years. He claims there is no doubt that the front-line troops have been issued “inferior armor.