Body Armor – more problems?
We have all seen the latest stories about recalled Body Armor. For those of us with family who depend on it for their safety, it was worrying. For me, it brought back memories of my son in Iraq in 2003/2004, and taking part in fundraisers to get more armor out to the guys in the field. So I was perturbed (nice way to put it, huh? I was pissed!) to see this rearing it’s ugly head again.
When I got the invitation to take part in a Bloggers Roundtable with SGM Tom Coleman from Program Executive Officer Soldier. who also “dual-hats” as the Natick Soldier Systems Center SGM, I jumped at it. This is a phone conference call, with various people including journalists and “regular bloggers” on the line, we ask whatever questions we want.
SGM Coleman explained, over and over again, that the recall was done not because any problems were found with the armor, but with testing procedures. Being the nosy paralegal that I am, I wanted to know if the testing was being done by the company that manufactured the plates that go into the vests (which is always a bad idea!) Here is his answer, from the transcript:
The government provides the oversight of testing. Okay?
SGT. MAJ. COLEMAN: So the companies — now again, I talked about first article tests and lot acceptance tests. There were some incidents where the companies — we didn’t have a government official in on a lot acceptance test. But that wasn’t the cause of the problem. But that is some of the correction — there’s a government representative at every one of the FAT and LAP tests that take place. So it’s not just the company calling us saying, “Hey, we’re good.”
Q Yeah. (Chuckles.)
SGT. MAJ. COLEMAN: It is government representation that is there.
SGT. MAJ. COLEMAN: And I got to say, though, that — I mean, this is my number-one concern, is confidence in the family members. Soldiers are confident because they’re on the battlefield. They see what happens when those plates take a strike. They get back up, or they see their buddy get back up and shake it off, and they get on with their mission.
It’s the family members —
Q It’s Mom who’s sitting there.
SGT. MAJ. COLEMAN: — absolutely — that doesn’t see firsthand what’s going on.
And, you know, I mean, I have my own family call me up and say, “Hey,” you know. And again, I mean I’ve got four tours. My brother’s still active, getting ready to go back over there for his sixth tour. And my own mother calls me and says, “Hey, what’s going on with this?” And I’ve got to sit down and explain it.
So my number-one concern really is the confidence, because the equipment’s right. The equipment is good. And, you know, when these things happen, it does, it shakes it.
Q Yeah, it does.
It does make me feel a little better… no, not that I am being reassured that everything is alright – but he has to tell his own Mom!
We talked a bit more, he did assure us that there had been no problems with the plates, that no one is in danger from malfunctions.