Friday, January 30, 2009

Army says body armor is "safe" for soldiers in combat

Army: Body armor safe for soldiers in combat
By Richard Lardner - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 30, 2009 5:58:09 EST

WASHINGTON — No U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because their body armor was flawed and failed to protect them, a senior Army official said Thursday as the service defended how the lifesaving gear is tested before being used in combat.

A new audit by the Pentagon inspector general said the specially hardened ceramic plates from one body armor manufacturer — Armor Works of Chandler, Ariz. — were tested improperly and may not provide troops adequate protection.

The audit recommended that nearly 33,000 of the Armor Works plates be withdrawn from an inventory of about 2 million produced by nearly a dozen different companies.

Army Secretary Pete Geren disputed the inspector general’s findings, but agreed to withdraw the Armor Works plates as a precautionary step. In a move underscoring the tension between the inspector general’s office and the Army, Geren has asked a senior Pentagon official to settle the disagreement.

In a separate action, the Army in December voluntarily withdrew just over 8,000 plates because of testing gaps. Those plates were made by Armor Works and other manufacturers, including Ceradyne of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Simula, which is part of BAE Systems.
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