US Military Body Armor
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Controversy on the Testing of US Military Body Armor
The inspector general of the Department of Defense in the United States found out that the Army has improperly tested the new bullet blocking plates for US Military body armor and cannot be certain that 5 million pieces of the critical battlefield equipment are meeting the standards to protect US soldiers.
The report was conducted for a period of 2 years between 2004 and 2006 and found out that tests were incomplete, conducted the wrong sizes plates or relied on ballistic test rounds that were inconsistent. Due to the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tests under certain temperatures and altitudes were scrapped altogether.
The inspector general said it did not conduct its own tests so it couldn't say whether the plates were defective. In response, the Army said Tuesday that it had initiated improvements to the testing system before and during the inspector general's audit. The service also said "all inspector general recommendations to improve the testing processes have been implemented. … The Army continues to work with the test community for test improvements to provide the best body armor possible to the soldier."
The Army said it had created a database for test information, standardized the protocol for ballistic testing and continues to scan body armor plates before deployment and during a soldier's tour of duty to ensure there are no internal cracks.
The US military body armor used by most U.S. troops comprises a ballistic vest with two large, hard ceramic plates that protect the upper body from bullets and shrapnel. The equipment has been crucial for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade. This is given importance because soldiers are there to risk their lives. At least, they should have some confidence that the part of the military body armor system is taken cared of and is tested properly.