"I believe the military and Pentagon are doing all humanly possible..." Both are huge, slow, and ponderous in procurement. Remember the Humvee armor dust-up? Took a lot of guys in the field making their own armor, others getting killed, and lots of bitching before the DOD finally reacted in a meaningful way. In any pissing match like this, think of it as your son against a paper pusher in DC, going to lunch with reps of armor mfgrs.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 - Army officials said Wednesday that they had decided to send additional body armor to Iraq to protect soldiers from insurgents' attacks.
The ceramic plates now worn by most members of the military shield just some of the upper body from bullets and shrapnel, and the Army said it would buy plates that would extend this protection to the sides of soldiers. The officials spoke after a closed session of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held after The New York Times reported last week that a Pentagon study had found that extra armor could have saved up to 80 percent of the marines who died in Iraq from upper body wounds.
In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines' sides, shoulders or areas of the torso where the protective plates did not reach.
The Marine Corps, which commissioned the study in December 2004, began buying side plates in September for its 26,000 troops in Iraq. Army procurement officials said they began studying a similar move last summer after receiving requests from troops in Iraq, but were hampered by the need to supply a much larger force of 160,000 individuals.
The Army had begun supplying small quantities of side plates to soldiers much earlier in the war through its Rapid Equipping Force. Armor Works of Tempe, Ariz., which is making the plates for the marines, said it shipped 250 sets in November 2003.
Another manufacturer, the Excera Materials Group of Columbus, Ohio, said that since late 2004 it had shipped 1,000 sets of side plates to Special Forces personnel, the Air Force and individual units that used their own procurement money to buy the armor.
Citing security concerns, the Army has in recent days urged armor contractors not to disclose information about their work, even if the information is not classified, industry officials said.
"Neither you nor any of your employees are authorized to release to anyone outside your organization any unclassified information, regardless of medium, pertaining to any part of your contract," says a letter from an Army research and procurement unit that The Times obtained.
In Congress on Wednesday, Army and Marine officials defended their efforts to procure additional armor, saying they had to weigh the benefits of additional plates against adding weight and restricting mobility. Citing those concerns, Marine officials said last week that they remained reluctant to buy shoulder plates or larger plates for the chest and back.
"This is a continuous evolution," Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, the Army director of force development, said after the Senate briefing.