Thursday, January 29, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Army to recall armor

EXCLUSIVE: Army to recall armor
Sara A. Carter (Contact)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Army 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 has learned.

A Defense official, speaking on the condition that he not be named, said the Army is acting proactively while challenging the contention of Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell that the armor could be unsafe.

"This decision reflects the Army's commitment to do everything within its power to be sure only the very best equipment is fielded to its soldiers," the official said.

He said, however, that there have been no reports of defects in the plates or deaths or injuries resulting from their use. The plates are being recalled so that soldiers will not worry that they are wearing unsafe armor, he said.

The equipment in question was manufactured between 2005 and 2007 and accounts for 1.6 percent of the 1.9 million plates that the Army has purchased to date, he said.

The recall was announced a day before the inspector general's office is to brief the chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter. Mrs. Slaughter, New York Democrat, has focused on the issue of body armor failures and procurement.

"Two years ago, I asked the Department of Defense Inspector General to make sure that the U.S. Army was doing their due diligence in ensuring that the quality of body armor being used by our Armed Forces meets the very highest standards to save lives," Mrs. Slaughter said in a statement.

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