Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Army Body Armor Tests Postponed... Again

Vice President Dick Cheney & General David Petraeus, Baghdad Airport. Wed, May 9, 2007.
The Vice President in Dragon Skin body armor. White House photo David Bohrer.

Who You Gonna Believe? Me Or Your Lying Eyes?

Friend of GNB, Lurch of Main and Central has an interesting take on Army logistics.

Seems yet again -- what is this, the third time? -- the Army has postponed side by side comparisons of the Dragon Skin body armor against Interceptor armor which the Army swears is safe.

Main and Central

A cynical fly on the wall would not have been surprised to have heard “some” armor manufacturer say, “Are you insane? We can’t stand up to a side-by-side test! We need tome to build a better vest for the testing.”

The Army insists the Interceptor is the best armor available, and has in fact warned GIs that if they wear Dragon Skin and are injured or killed, they families will not be allowed to collect their SGLI benefits.

If any reader believes Whining Joe Lieberman and Dick “dick” Cheney aren’t wearing the very best armor money can buy, please contact me. I have a controlling interest in a bridge I’m prepared to sell you for a bargain price. After gaining approval from the Mayor of New York, and the Borough Presidents of Manhattan and Brooklyn you will be able to erect toll booths. It’s an income for life!
Pinnacle's [DragonSkin] [Murry] Neal says he plans to submit Dragon Skin samples for the upcoming test and is glad the Army is finally taking his technology seriously.

"The extensions, as we have been told by several Army personnel, are primarily for the current manufacturers to fix the plates that have been run through preliminary testing and that are not passing with enough percentage to guarantee passing the [final] testing," Neal said in a email to, adding he's only too eager to pit his flexible -- otherwise known as "scalar" -- system up against any comers.

If their vests weren’t ready in the Summer of 2007, and they needed more time to jigger improvements, then the Interceptor certainly wasn’t the best vest available.

I just want to point out that NBC filmed their side-by-side tests of the Interceptor and Dragon Skin vests. The Army either didn’t, or won’t release the films. Suspicions that the Mk II pencil was involved in the testing just might be valid.

There's more...
This story won't quit.

It won't necessarily be Dragon Skin that comes out on top, either.

DefenseTech has a series of posts going back a long way, if you want the full gory details, as does Lurch in his story above.

What does seem clear is, the Army hasn't given Dragon Skin a fair chance, weight (of the armor) is going to matter a lot, and I seriously doubt the Secret Service is risking Cheney's life in Iraq when they packed him into Dragon Skin instead of a standard issue vest.

If it's good enough for the Secret Service, it's probably good enough for the Army.

Update 10:00 AM:

I received an email from the person who manages the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He says:
I can assure you, there is ZERO truth to the statement about SGLI not being payable if the service member is injured or killed while wearing or not wearing that Dragon body armor or any other item.

99% of active duty service members have elected to be insured under SGLI. Except for extraordinarily serious situations, such as treason, desertion, etc. SGLI death proceeds are always payable for those individuals. SGLI is 24/7 coverage, everywhere in the world, and is payable whether the death is combat-related or not.
GNB doesn't consider this a correction per se, in that, I don't consider Main and Central's original story -- which I quoted, which in turn goes out and links to another story -- wrong.

In the original story -- and if you hit the links, there's more like the first -- soldiers said their commanders said if they wore Dragon Skin and were killed, they were told by their commanders, they wouldn't get their military insurance (that's SGLI.)

GNB believes that happened as reported (there were several cases), so I'm not retracting the story. It fits completely with my personal experience as a soldier. I've had CO's make up shit in order to try and push me around. It happens.

At the same time, while we stand by our story, we're also happy to tell everyone that their CO's were fucking with them and SGLI will pay if you buy the farm. I've got that word from the VA its own self, straight from the man who manages the program.

Got it?

Wear Dragon Skin, don't wear it, it's between you and your command. SGLI life insurance is there for you 24/7, in and out of combat, regardless. As it was for me, and has been for troops for as far back as I can remember.

Good deal, and we thank the VA for dropping us a line.