Friday, January 06, 2006

Are U.S. Marines Dying Because of Inadequate Body Armor?

That's the damning conclusion of this article in Soldiers for the Truth. The key, tragic paragraphs are the opening ones:
A recent United States Marine Corps forensic study obtained by DefenseWatch slams the Interceptor OTV body armor system, claiming "as many as 42% of the Marine casualties who died from isolated torso injuries could have been prevented with improved protection in the areas surrounding the plated areas of the vest. Nearly 23% might have benefited from protection along the mid-axillary line of the lateral chest. Another 15% died from impacts through the unprotected shoulder and upper arm," the report says.

The internally produced report revealed that a random sample of 93 Marine deaths studied for the report showed that 60 percent of the fatalities suffered by the Marines who were killed in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2005 died from gunshot wounds received while wearing Interceptor OTV body armor. Another 38 percent died from wounds sustained in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks while wearing Interceptor gear and roughly two percent died from unknown causes.

The findings in the inquiry, reportedly classified as "For Official Use Only," also bring into question the Pentagon's consistent assertion that the principle cause of death among war fighters in Iraq comes from IEDs the insurgents are using with ever increasing ferocity.
Moreover, it's been known for a while that there are better body armor types that could have been obtained:
... U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick (SSC-Natick, Massachusetts), has known for at least several years that its in-house designed Interceptor body armor was not nearly as effective as other civilian body armor products already in production.
Stunning. Heart-breaking. Tragic. Whoever is responsible for this ineptitude needs to pay. When EIGHTY PER CENT of Marine deaths could have been prevented, such incompetence borders on the criminal.
"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." Donald Rumsfeld, 2004
(Hat Tip: SusanG at DKos)

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