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May 18, 2007

WEBB & CLINTON CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO THE EFFECTIVENESS OF BODY ARMOR ISSUED TO OUR TROOPS

Washington, DC – In light of recent media reports suggesting that a particular body armor system may offer better protection than the system currently being used by our servicemembers, Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)—both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee—today  called on Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker to initiate a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation to reassess the body armor systems currently being issued by all the military services and the Special Operations Command for effectiveness and reliability against the threats facing U.S. troops in combat.

 

“For several years, I have heard reports from active duty troops and military experts that Dragon Skin body armor is more effective than that currently being used,” said Senator Webb.  “We owe it to those who are in harm’s way to examine conclusively whether this is true.”

 

“With United States troops risking their lives daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we owe it to them to make sure they have the best equipment possible,” Senator Clinton said.

 

Recent media reports suggest that the Pinnacle Dragon Skin Body Armor system may offer better protection than Interceptor Body Armor currently being used by our servicemembers.  In light of these revelations - along with constituent concerns expressed to the Senators describing servicemembers and government personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan wearing alternative body armor systems because of concerns about inadequate body armor currently being issued to service members – the Senators requested that the scope of the GAO review include:

 

1) A comparison and testing of the Interceptor Body Armor system with other commercially available products including the Pinnacle Dragon Skin Body Armor system and the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) to determine if troops are currently issued the best available body armor system;

 

2) A determination of the necessary procurement steps required to obtain and field the best body armor systems for the armed forces;

 

3) A review to confirm compliance and applicability of current body armor system policies and Safety-of-Use Messages for wear that apply to conventional forces and special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 

The full text of the Senators’ letter follows:

 

The Honorable David M. Walker

Comptroller General of the United States

United States Government Accountability Office

441 G Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20548

 

Dear Mr. Walker,

 

We are writing to request that the Government Accountability Office conduct an investigation that would reassess body armor systems currently being issued by all the military services and the Special Operations Command for effectiveness and reliability against the threats facing our troops in combat.

 

Recent media reports suggest that the Pinnacle Dragon Skin Body Armor system may offer better protection than Interceptor Body Armor currently being used by our service members.  Additionally, we have received constituent inquiries describing service members and government personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan wearing alternative body armor systems because of concerns about performance shortcomings with body armor procured by the Department of Defense.

 

We owe it to our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hazardous regions to provide them with the best possible body armor.  Continuing allegations that superior body armor may be available but is not being acquired by the Department of Defense warrant an independent assessment.  

 

In light of these revelations and constituent concerns we request that the Government Accountability Office reassess the various body armor systems currently being employed by all branches of the armed forces and the Special Operations Command for effectiveness and reliability against the threats facing our troops in combat.  The scope of this review should include: (1) a comparison and testing of the Interceptor Body Armor system with other commercially available products including the Pinnacle Dragon Skin Body Armor system and the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) to determine if our troops are currently issued the best available body armor system; (2) a determination of the necessary procurement steps required to obtain and field the best body armor systems for the armed forces; and (3) a review to confirm compliance and applicability of current body armor system policies and Safety-of-Use Messages for wear that apply to conventional forces and special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 

We look forward to your prompt response. Thank you for your consideration

Sincerely yours,

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton                                   

Senator James Webb

 

 

CC:  Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense;         

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman, Senate Arms Services Committee  


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