The US Army Didn’t Bother Testing 5 Million Bulletproof Body Plates

The US Army Didn’t Bother Testing 5 Million Bulletproof Body Plates

When you’re in a warzone, it’s nice to take the slightest comfort in knowing that someone tested the armour you have strapped to your chest, crotch, and arms. But according to a new Pentagon report, the Army botched it hard.

The defence Department Inspector General’s study states the screwup pretty plainly, Danger Room reports: “Ballistic Inserts Were Not Tested Consistently.” And what’s that mean? “The tests we reviewed were incomplete, executed with the wrong size ballistic insert, or performed in environmental test conditions outside of the range specified.” In other words, the Army has no idea how effective — if at all — five million pieces of body armour plating are. And that’s after it’s spent $US2.5 billion on the stuff. With that in mind, the title of the report — “Ballistic Testing for Interceptor Body armour Inserts Needs Improvement” — is a pretty serious understatement.

The Interceptor gear is spread across the body, consisting of arm pads, a vest, a groin cup, and side barriers. In other words, extremely vital areas. For all five million plates, the report claims the Army had no “consistent methodology for measuring and recording velocity.” Translation: the Army didn’t check whether the armour could take a bullet.

This revelation shouldn’t be entirely surprising — it dates back to 2004, after all. The Iraq war, despite all its length and arduousness, has been a poorly engineered conflict. From its very inception, infantrymen were sent out lacking armour on both their person and their vehicles. The Secretary of Defense’s defense? The infamous “You go to war with the army you have — not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time,” adding dubiously “You can have all the armour in the world on a tank, and a tank can be blown up.” Design was secondary.

We’ve been at war with that army for eight years now, and to know that a lesson as basic as making sure the bulletproof vests work hasn’t been learned is as disheartening as it is frightening. And I’m not even over there being shot at. [via Danger Room]

Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty

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