Citizens Support Where Pentagon Fails
May 10, 2005 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Marines recall faulty body armor. In yet another blow to the struggle to supply soldiers with adequate armor, 5,277 defective vests were recalled today from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response to the armor shortages, new Oklahoma legislation would create "Patriot Plates," a $35 license plate of which $20 would go to supply body armor for Oklahoma soldiers. Soldiers have been lacking this armor for months now. According to an April GAO report: (PDF)
Because of the shortages, many individuals bought body armor with personal funds. The Congressional Budget Office estimated (1) that as many as 10,000 personnel purchased vests, (2) as many as 20,000 purchased plates with personal funds, and (3) the total cost to reimburse them would be $16 million in 2005. (P. 78)
Another continuing problem is a lack of adequately armored HMMWVs. "Current HMMWVs are protected only by canvas tops and have no additional armor protection." (P. 122) In this case, for protection from ambushes and roadside bombs, an add-on armor kit is required. However, "as of September 2004, the Army supplied 8,771 of the 13,872 Add-on Armor kits required by CENTCOM but still needed 5,101 additional kits to meet all requirements." (P. 121) Attacks on vehicles have accounted for as many as 40 percent of the 1,037 deaths attributed to hostile action.

But at least we can sleep soundly knowing that manufacturers are seeing record profits from all of this.
posted by ScottMorris (31 comments total)
No don't tell me somebody has endangered american soldiers exploited american citizens and now they're supposed to pay AGAIN for an already paid armor by buying Patriot Plates ?

Nooooo it can't be it can't be it's not possible. There's nothing to see move ahead
posted by elpapacito at 5:22 PM on May 10, 2005

Point Blank? Sheeit, that's my brand vest!
posted by kuatto at 5:28 PM on May 10, 2005

Funny thing is, over two years Armor Holdings Inc show a rise in stock price of 300%, but over the last year they are basically flat. Apparently the record profits were already built into the stock price.

Guess it's time to declare another war.
posted by slm303 at 5:28 PM on May 10, 2005

I read last week that the soldier who asked Rumsfeld about armor deficiencies and raised all the ruckus STILL has not got the requisite armor. WTF? Those reservists better be pissed off.
posted by tkchrist at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2005

At least Oklahomans can put that $300 tax cut to good use...
posted by MikeKD at 5:39 PM on May 10, 2005

"The young men die while the old men talk."

Yeah..I just quoted "Troy" which is as lame as our fn'n defense Dept but they probably had better armor on the sets to cover Brad's A$$.
posted by Mr Bluesky at 5:39 PM on May 10, 2005

listen folks, I went to Gulf War Debacle I with standard humvees and the old style kevlar vest (no plates).

And oddly enough, nobody bitched.

This isn't about the tactics of blowing up humvees. Christ, they've blown up the venerable M1 battle tank, proving they can get to our troops regardless of the armor.

This is simply a case of bad strategy. A bad strategy that goes all the way to the top. Five or ten years from now, when all the senior officers are retired, they'll start to tell the truth about this crap.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:45 PM on May 10, 2005

This would be a great post - on your own blog. Oh wait, it already is.

Which is a shame, because that Oklahoma legislation is abhorrent. If they need to fund the war, raise taxes- don't coerce the public into "volunteering" their money in the name of "patriotism".
posted by mkultra at 5:47 PM on May 10, 2005

jsavimbi: oh men it's obvious anything can be blown to pieces with enough explosives and the M1 is no exception.

It's equally as obvious that an oversized jeep called Humvee that supposed to have some kind of know in the -unlikely- event somebody shoots with small arms on soldiers !!

It's also obvious a personal body armor should protect from small arms fire as well. One would think EACH and every armor should be tested as know..there are soldiers in that armors....not that anybody is going to shoot at them !
posted by elpapacito at 5:54 PM on May 10, 2005

It's equally as obvious that an oversized jeep called Humvee that supposed to have some kind of know in the -unlikely- event somebody shoots with small arms on soldiers !!

Those things are called Armored personnel Carriers (APC). M113 is an example of these. Humvees are not APCs and were not intended to be so.
Also, you cannot test each and every piece of body armor. They are designed to work once, just like motocycle helmets, for example. It's like testing bolts for tensile strength, you can do it, but you will no longer have them.
posted by c13 at 6:09 PM on May 10, 2005

mkultra: This would be a great post - on your own blog. Oh wait, it already is.

Sorry if I missed something, that's my first metafilter post. If you're blogging about something interesting on your blog, is there a rule, precedent or courtesy that you shouldn't post it on metafilter? I thought the rules were against self-linking, which I didn't do.
posted by ScottMorris at 7:13 PM on May 10, 2005

Oh, where are the flag-waving-support the troops type?

Why have they not opened their wallets and made sure the troops have what they need?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:32 PM on May 10, 2005

Editor & Publisher: Marine Corps Times' Probe Prompts Recall of Faulty Vests: ... The reporter on the story told E&P today that officials tried to "steer" him away from the story. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on May 10, 2005

considering mkultra is the only one objecting here, I would say the problem was his, not yours scottmorris. also, if anyone has a problem with a post they are supposed to flag it instead of relieving themselves inthread. That is of course unless they have no real objection and just like making noise.
posted by puke & cry at 7:39 PM on May 10, 2005

rough ashlar writes " Oh, where are the flag-waving-support the troops type?"

Surely they all enlisted to ensure that they would do their part for a cause they deem so worthy!

ah, sometimes I crack me up.
posted by clevershark at 8:04 PM on May 10, 2005

c13: indeed M113 would most probably be a lot better then a Humvee in soldiers current role ..even if it can't stand an RPG hit it certainly would offer protection from some small arms.

Can't deploy Bradley or M1 because of their size and because they're sitting ducks without infantry protection in a urban scenario and pack too much firepower what's left , M113 or some other APC ? If so were are they, turned into gilette razor, recycled as coke cans or what ?

As for the armor if testing each one can't be done one wonders what test sample do they pick out of each lot...assuming they do some quality control. I wonder if soldiers knew they should expect x out 10 armors to fail.
posted by elpapacito at 8:18 PM on May 10, 2005

Can't deploy Bradley or M1 because of their size and because they're sitting ducks without infantry protection in a urban scenario and pack too much firepower what's left , M113 or some other APC ?

The IAV, known as the Stryker, was designed to fill this MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) role, among others. Unfortunately, they haven't proven impervious to IED attacks, though the Pentagon puts great stock in the Stryker brigade concept, with light-armored, high-mobility infantry central to military transformation.
posted by dhartung at 8:30 PM on May 10, 2005

Oh, where are the flag-waving-support the troops type?

Why have they not opened their wallets and made sure the troops have what they need?

Well they'll have their chance, at least in Oklahoma.
posted by ScottMorris at 9:01 PM on May 10, 2005

posted by fungible at 9:19 PM on May 10, 2005

One of Hackworth's reasons for seeing the Vietnam war as being poorly fought was that the military didn't have enough money to train soldiers to avoid mines, but could afford nice trailers for all the officers.
posted by drezdn at 10:54 PM on May 10, 2005

Oddly enough, Halliburton supply trucks don't need the armor -- because the Army details soldiers to protect the profiteers.
posted by orthogonality at 10:56 PM on May 10, 2005

Because armour alone would be enough to prevent an attack on a convoy...
posted by drscroogemcduck at 3:16 AM on May 11, 2005

Now I'm in a quandary.
Do I buy "support the troops" plates or "support the South" plates?
Either one would go well with my flag decal, my yellow magnetic ribbon, my W04 sticker, my "abortion is murder" bumper sticker, my "marriage= 1 man + 1 woman" window decal and all my other assorted SUV messages. Good thing I bought a very large vehicle to put them all on, huh?

What Would Dubya Do?
posted by nofundy at 7:02 AM on May 11, 2005

Meant to post this relevant cartoon. I suck.
posted by fungible at 7:29 AM on May 11, 2005

Maybe the marines could have a bake sale?
posted by straight at 9:49 AM on May 11, 2005

I would like to see George Bush asked, in a televised press conference, why he has seen fit to send our troops to war without adequate protection and where in the hell all the money he's had allocated has gone?

Oh wait, that's right Halliburton did such a great job that they got a $70 million bonus.
posted by fenriq at 10:14 AM on May 11, 2005

nofundy: wanting American troops to have body armor is hardly equivalent to being anti-gay marraige or a rabid pro-lifer. Don't imply that there is.
posted by jonmc at 10:46 AM on May 11, 2005

I was about to mention that $70M bonus to the private contractor, Halliburton... who had scammed the government of about that amount a few years back and, IIRC, was made to give it back (apparently so the government could turn around and give it right back to Halliburton.)

I'd have thought the obvious, sensible, and reasonable approach would have been to not bonus Halliburton, and use that money instead to buy the soldiers some armour.

But, then, I guess that sort of common sense is exactly why I'm not in control of the purse strings.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 AM on May 11, 2005

A week or two ago my brother was showing me photos he took in Iraq. One of the pictures was a friend of his, taken the day before said friend had half of his face blown off after his unarmored Hummer was hit while part of a convoy. My brother's Hummer (which had makeshift armor tacked on in the field) was not hit.

My brother is a strong Bush supporter. Prior to his tour of duty we had little in common in terms of our view of the current administration. Now that he's been over there, some of his views have changed. After showing me the photo he went on a long tirade about what an asshole Rumsfeld is, and how insane it was to send troops out unequipped. His friend will spend the rest of his life very badly scarred because of this oversight. Some of the other members of that unit are dead because of this.

My brother was lucky enough that he often could use a vehicle with some sort of armor. He was also lucky to make it home without injury. For a lot of other people, that luck didn't hold. We have enough money and a large enough manufacturing base that our military need not rely on luck.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2005

Point Blank Body Armor and will be producing outer-carriers for the U.S. military’s famous INTERCEPTOR body armor being used by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. All production will be performed at the Broad Street facility.

The US Marines are showing caution here, as the armor is being re-tested as an assurance to the soldiers wearing it. Especially when their families may be worried by a report that the armor is defective upon reading a published report at home.

The post needs to include the US Army having a bigger worry, if that military branch is currently using the same vests. Because The Army has been using them prior to the Marines and may be a more likely target in Iraq. This may have changed since my lil brother’s return in the fall of 2003. Though, their numbers are more and Bin Laden labeled them “the paper tiger” at the time the US Marines left Beirut, Iran in the 80’s.

I’m not sure what would be worse though. The Marines’ families worrying over possible defective body armor having flaws and knowing it can be replaced in Iraq. Or, a Marine’s family having a daily reminder of their soldier’s safety is incomplete at the war’s preliminary start and until his return home. This was relayed to me about my lil brother about the time Baghdad had fallen though. Because at home, my lil brother had left portions of the body armor, protective neck collar & groin plate, behind which were visibly seen sitting on the dining room table. Then my family wondered if mailing the pieces to him was needed until his first phone call home. So you know, the phone call came after 3 months there and his unit’s mail for 220 men was lost and returned home several times before finally being delivered 4-5 months from the mailer sending it.

When my brother returned home, he told me the reason he left them. Not needed. They’re crap adding more weight to his carried gear. Also he found them to be a bigger nuisance in using these pieces. His job on the battlefield was driving a LAV, which puts him at the vehicle’s front end. This is also where the vehicle’s armor has the weakest area and a groin plate could not be worn when driving. His legs being lost would more likely happen and made the groin plate useless. If the enemy penetrated the armor in front of him this plate it is not protective for him in a sitting position too. Driving the vehicle in battle he uses a peephole in an area near his head that makes the face more vulnerable during an attack. So the neckpiece was useless protecting damage to the brain and while driving the piece prevented his head to have movement to the soldiers positioned inside the LAV behind him.

His vehicle was his armor. Basically for him, the body armor would not fully protect serious injury or death if the vehicle took a direct hit. Because stored tow-head missiles inside the LAV being exploded by the hit would wipe out his existence. Plus, his body armor was issued and used a decade before his birth.

The only protection concern during a battle was for his “paws”, hands on the steering wheel, from mortar fire exploding in front of him.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:04 PM on May 11, 2005

Nice story thom - the US Army adopted INTERCEPTOR body armour in 1999 so I guess he wasn't actually using that - more likely it was PASGT which is not a shit load of use even against rifle rounds unless you have the ISAPO ceramic overvest. Your brother wouldn't always be in the LAV however and he would likely need to wear the armour outside. His decision not to take it with him was a dangerous one - recall the Rangers in Somalia not taking NVGs and then getting stuck in the dark? It's always the thing you don't have that you most need when the shit hits the fan.

There has been an awful lot of tales from both sides about the LAV - most soldiers I have spoken to love it, but quite a few others have labelled them as deathtraps. drscroogemcduck (heh) - light armoured vehicles such as the LAV are a deterrent to ambush (not to IEDs) as they are armed to hell and back. A HMMWV is just a light truck with maybe a 50 cal or a grenade launcher - either way, the gunner is partly exposed and cannot respond in the same way as an APC when he comes under fire.

The British Army have experienced equipment shortfalls too, particularly with body armour. The problem being that we found out about this way before the war when Operation : Make Sure Stuff Works Because We Will Shortly Be Invading Afghanistan (aka Saif Sareea II). A lot of changes were made to issue kit afterwards but these were left a little late IMHO. Never mind though - you go to war with the dregs of what's left from your training exercises, not with what you want.
posted by longbaugh at 4:14 PM on May 11, 2005

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