Body Armor Recall - The DoD Inspector General VS. The Department of the Army
Posted By Blackfive • [February 02, 2009]
The Army—and the Department of Defense’s Directorate of Operational
Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)—disagree with the DOD IG’s conclusion
that three body armor designs failed First Article testing and the
implication, subsequently, is that the Army issued faulty armor plates to its
The Washington Times had this story regarding the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report on body armor that has caused the Army to recall 16,000 sets of ESAPI:
The Army announced Thursday that it will withdraw from service more than 16,000 sets of ceramic body armor plates that the Pentagon's inspector general believes were not properly tested and could jeopardize the lives of U.S. service personnel. The Washington Times reported yesterday that the armor was deemed unsafe by Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell...
Over at The Captain's Journal, Hershel Smith succinctly describes why the DOD IG and the US Army are at odds over the testing of the body armor. The Captains' Journal also does an excellent job of explaining why the US Army testing was not at fault. Go read the analysis.
The Army has decided to act with an abundance of caution until this issue can be resolved (although the Secretary of the Army says this is NOT a recall but just pulling the units in question out of combat).
Here's an enlisted perspective on body armor:
ARMY.MIL - Sgt. Jeremy Ross of the Pentagon Channel interviews Sgt. Maj. Coleman about effective body armor plates.
After the Jump is an information paper from the U.S. Army regarding its testing process and procedures for body armor.
We'll see what the results will be, but I would bet that the Army will be supported in their view on this one. And I think we can all agree that we need better armor that is LIGHTER. This is a program that should not be cut but should be increased in size and scope.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY WASHINGTON, D.C.
29 January 2009
INFORMATION FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SUBJECT: Army Testing of Body Armor
The Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report on Body
Armor identified a range of issues involving Army testing processes and
documentation dating back to 2007. By and large, the Army agrees with
the DOD IG report and commends the IG’s office for its thorough and
constructive evaluation of Army testing procedures.
In fact, the Army had already identified problems raised by the IG and
has moved aggressively to fix them Indeed, since June 2007, the Army
has instituted comprehensive testing reforms, with oversight by the
Department of Defense’s Directorate of Operational Test and Evaluation
(DOT&E) and considerable involvement by senior Army leadership.
Among the many important improvements already instituted is assigning
responsibility for article testing to the Army Test and Evaluation
Command instead of using outside contractors.
However, there is one critical component of the DOD Inspector General
report that the Army does not agree with. The DoD IG reviewed 21
designs of body armor conducted by the Army. The Army had determined
that 13 of the 21 failed the test, while 8 passed.
The DoD IG concluded that three of these eight that had passed the
Army’s test actually failed. The Army and DOT&E, the Department of
Defense’s testing expert, disagree with the DoD IG’s conclusion. The
implication is that the Army issued faulty armor plates to Soldiers,
which goes to the heart of the Army’s commitment to protect its
The DOT&E is the government’s preeminent and independent authority
in the highly specialized field of ballistic testing. The Director,
OT&E examined the three tests of the plates at issue and concluded
that they did pass the test.
Since there is a major disagreement between the DOD IG and the experts
at DOT&E as to whether the plates passed testing and since the Army
takes this matter so seriously, the Secretary of the Army has asked the
Deputy Secretary of Defense to adjudicate the opposing views of the DoD
IG and DOT&E. However, because the DoD IG raised this issue and to
ensure there is no question about the effectiveness of any Soldier’s
body armor, the Army will collect these body armor plates and hold them
pending further review.
“There is nothing more important than the safety of our Soldiers, their
confidence in their equipment, and America’s confidence in their Army,”
said Secretary of Army Pete Geren. “Let’s put this into perspective.
Out of more than 2,300 body armor tests conducted by the Army, the DoD
IG is questioning three of them. DOT&E, the government’s
preeminent independent expert, says the plates passed those three
tests. And let’s not forget, since 2002, we have produced and fielded
over 2 million plates of body armor. That body armor has saved the
lives of thousands of Soldiers.”
Point of contact for this notification is MAJ Matt Jemmott, 703-697-4418, Office of Chief of Legislative Liaison.
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