BRIGADIER GENERAL ANTHONY CUCOLO (chief, Army Public Affairs): Good afternoon, everybody. Brigadier General Tony Cucolo, chief of public affairs, United States Army.
And this afternoon we've got an Army press briefing all about body armor. Now, why are we doing that? Well, primarily because news reports last Thursday, Sunday evening -- between last Thursday and, quite frankly, this morning, have caused us to be concerned about the confidence that soldiers' families, parents, spouses might have in the body armor that their soldiers are wearing in combat right now.
And so we thought it important to brief you on facts, give you some context, clarify any issues that you might have with your questions. And to do that today, I've got Brigadier General Mark Brown. He is our Program Executive Office Soldier boss. He's the boss of Individual Soldier Kit for the United States Army. And he has brought a team of experts from his office with him. And without further ado, I'd like to turn the podium over to General Mark Brown.
GEN. BROWN: Thank you, Tony.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you here this morning to this briefing. I'm very glad that you took the time to be here because we would like to get ground truth out there in the wake of recent reports that have been in the media.
The first thing I'd like to do in my statement, before I throw it open to questions, is introduce you to some folks that I've brought with me, some subject matter experts, if you will. And you'll have access to them as we go along.
First I'd like to introduce you to the program manager for soldier equipment, Colonel John McGuiness. He's an airborne Ranger infantryman, Desert Storm -- I mean OIF veteran.
He has also got a master's degree in operations research from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
Second, I'd like to introduce you to Karl Masters, my chief engineer and test director. He is a retired lieutenant colonel of 21 years, special operator, Airborne Ranger jump master, master's degree in engineering from George Washington University in engineering management.
Third, I would like to introduce you to my sergeant major, works directly for me, Sergeant Major Thomas Coleman. Four combat tours, the first in Operation Just Cause in Panama, the second in Desert Storm, and two in Iraq, one with the 82nd Airborne and one with the 101st Air Assault, most recently returned from the 101st Air Assault. In Iraq he is an Airborne Ranger infantryman, CIB with a star.
They are my subject matter experts and they advise me on all matters of soldier equipment.
The first thing I'd like to do is get the point out that force protection is the number-one priority of the U.S. Army. We value our soldiers very highly and we do everything we can do to ensure they have the finest in force protection as they go into the battle. Force protection is not merely a matter of body armor. It is a matter of overlapping protective measures that we take, and the body armor is one component of that that must work in conjunction with every other component that we issue that soldier as they go downrange.
The four points I would like to make to you, if I were to say that you could take away four key points today, is number one, our soldiers and Marines today have the best body armor in the world bar none. It is live-fire tested and it is proven in combat. As a matter of fact, recent news clips on Thursday, Friday and Sunday opened up with a soldier being shot by a jihadist. That soldier was knocked down from the force of the impact and he got up and maneuvered and returned fire on the enemy. That body armor he was wearing was Interceptor body armor, the Army's current body armor.
Number two, I have more than one set of body armor for every soldier in theater. Number three, I have all the money and all the leadership support I need to get body armor and to get improvements to body armor.
Number four, although we are highly confident that we have the best body armor in the world bar none, we are never satisfied with the status quo and we are always looking for the next best thing. And to borrow a phrase from Lee Iacocca, if there's something better out there, we're going to buy it -- after we've live-fired tested it.
As a matter of fact, I have ongoing programs to ensure that that happens. Three times a year at least, we have a soldier protection demo at Fort Benning, Georgia, under the auspices of the U.S. Army Infantry Center. I have an up and running and funded soldier enhancement program that can either improve existing Army products or off-the-shelf products to meet our requirements, and we are in a constant dialogue with industry to get that next best thing.
So in conclusion before I throw it open for your questions, I would say that this is not just a matter of debate for us; this is personal. Sergeant Major Coleman has a brother that is getting ready to deploy into Iraq. My director of Administration and Personnel has a son in Iraq. My director of the Rapid Equipping Force has a son that is headed into Iraq. We take this personally. In fact, one- third of the general officers in the United States Army have either a son or a daughter either in theater today or has been to theater, so it is a matter of great import to us, and it is our number one priority and it is robustly funded.
So without further ado, I will move over and I will show you some facts and figures to make the point. If you'd flip to the first chart.
This is the actual test X-ray prior to live-fire test of the Pinnacle Dragon Skin SOV-3000 Body Armor Vest. And you'll see the configuration of this -- much like the news report said, is chain mail.
Now, body armor is about stopping the bullet, but it's not just about stopping the bullet. You'll see the way this configuration is there are actually three separate areas of protecting overlay. This white area here is single-disc coverage -- one disc, like this. This gray area is dual-disc coverage, like a Venn diagram. This dark area here is triple-disc coverage. So what you see -- the laws of probability and statistics will take hold in the live-fire test. There is probably a 50 percent probability of impact in a single-disc coverage area. This is very important information, and you will see why in just a moment.
Okay. This is the live-fire first article test sequence that we put Pinnacle SOV-3000 Body Armor through.
It's the exact same test protocol that we put every single body armor producer through that is in the employ of the U.S. Army today.
I will say up front that all six of the body armor producers of the U.S. Army in their employ passed this live-fire test protocol with zero failures. Zero failures is the correct answer. One failure is sudden death and you lose the game.
So what we do is we do a configuration analysis of the test article; we receive the vests; we establish accountability, storage and security; we label, weigh, measure the dimensions, x-ray and photograph the test article. Then, we move into the ballistic testing, and I'll get into the exact test protocol in a moment. But it is a series of events not unlike a decathlon in the Olympics. It's a multi-event test. We start off with the most difficult, most rigorous event first, because if we can induce a failure early on, that means that we don't have to spend $250,000 on the test because one failure, one penetration, you fail the test.
We also conduct harsh environment tests. Downtown Baghdad and 10,000 feet in Afghanistan is not a room temperature war. Our equipment has to stand up to the harshest of conditions not only in use by the soldier, but in deployment -- when you put it in the belly of an aircraft at 120 degrees in Nevada and then fly up to 30,000 or 40,000 feet where it's minus 60 degrees and then land back in Baghdad again where it's 125 or 130 degrees in the street. So the structural integrity of the product must hold up to that harsh environmental testing. We also do durability and drop tests, such as soldiers diving and hitting the ground when they come under fire, to make sure that that product holds up under those conditions. And then, we record and analyze the results.
This is just a cartoon view of how we go through the configuration analysis, and we do this hand in hand with the CEO and the vice president of Pinnacle. We received delivery of the box, interviewed them, tag, tally and weighed them, and then we measure, weight, photograph and put them on a scale and x-ray them. Then we send them into appropriate storage or conditioning prior to environmental testing, and then we analyze, correlate and print all the measurements and x-ray the vests both before and after the live- fire test.
This is the test protocol.
It is a three-day test event. These particular tests in yellow are very expensive test protocols, so we defer them to the end of the test to see if the test article will pass the test, because it may not be necessary to spend the dollars to conduct that part of the test if the vest has already failed.
It's just like if you were taking an exam in high school, and the max score on the exam was 100 and you already missed 51, there is no way that you can pass the test. It's mathematically and physically impossible. Also, these two test protocols are less rigorous than the initial protocols. And so if it can pass the highly rigorous test protocol, it is -- then we can go on to the less rigorous protocol. But the bottom line is, there were 30 vests tested, 30 vests per test, 27 tested and three were control items. Chart, please.
Okay, as I said, body armor is about stopping the bullet, but it's not just about stopping the bullet. It has to do area-of- coverage; it has to be compliant with the needs of human factors engineering and soldier usability. And therefore it's more than just stopping the bullet.
What you see here is the actual Pinnacle body armor, SOV-3000, worn on the same soldier as the interceptor body armor. In the test we rationalized a size extra-large to a size large to get a similar area of coverage. The Pinnacle-size body armors actually run a bit small, and therefore the most equal comparison is between these two.
And you can see, the weight of the SOV-3000 is 47-and-a-half pounds. The weight of the interceptor body armor is 28 pounds. That is before auxiliary protection, deltoid protection, groin protection and throat protection.
Thickness is also a key issue, because many soldiers fight mounted. They fight in armored vehicles, and the hatches of those vehicles are designed and they are inflexible. When soldiers have to get in and out of those vehicle hatches, it's a matter of great importance. So the fact that Pinnacle is 1.7 inches to 1.9 inches thicker as related to 1.3 inches thick for interceptor body armor, that makes a big difference.
The reason for the range in here is the configuration of those disks. When they're laying flat, they're like that. But when they get curved on the soldier's body, they open up like that.
Bottom line coverage area -- because we chose a Pinnacle SOV- 3000, we actually advantaged Pinnacle in the test to provide them greater area of coverage than we did the interceptor body armor.
Had we chosen a large Pinnacle, SOV-3000, the coverage area would have been less than the large Interceptor body armor.
To make this point, we have an actual Interceptor body armor on this scale and an actual Pinnacle SOV-3000 body armor on this scale. If you would like to come up and inspect those after the briefing, you're welcome to do so, but I think you'll find the weights are fairly accurate.
Q Is that the large and the extra-large?
GEN. BROWN: This is the large, this is the extra-large. Okay.
The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps do not fight room- temperature wars. They fight in very harsh places -- Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. Nonetheless, the very first test we run through is an ambient room temperature live-fire test. And we have a specific firing pattern protocol that we go through.
As you see, we x-rayed the Pinnacle SOV-3000 prior to the live fire test. Then we took shots at the front -- there's two shots at the front, two shots at each side and two shots at the back. What you see is in the front, at room temperature, the second shot did a complete penetration, one round on one disc. At that point Pinnacle had failed the test. However, in the interest of fairness and giving the contractor a good shake, we decided to proceed on and we tested it under other conditions.
Okay. Now, I've talked about environmental testing. Soldiers and Marines work around motor oil, they work around diesel, they work in hot conditions, they work in high-altitude conditions and others. This is an example of an environmental live-fire test protocol. What we do is we take the Pinnacle SOV-3000 body armor and we soak it in motor oil for about two hours. Let's say the soldier had been in a fight and the vehicle took a round and motor oil spewed everywhere and soaked the vest. Then we take it out and we let it dry, drip dry. Then we fire. And you see the second shot on the front -- all the shot protocols are the same, two shots at front, two shots at the side -- at each side, two shots in the rear. the second shot made a complete penetration of the front, and the second shot made a complete penetration in the back.
This is a clip of the actual test protocol, video clip, a still shot from that.
We have 24 hours of video from five different camera angles of every single test shot.
This individual is the CEO of Pinnacle Corporation. He observed every single test shot and observed every test. You will note he is peering into the penetration that was made by the test shot, which is right here. You will note here, he is viewing the penetration to see if it went all the way through the test stand, because it took them a good 20 minutes or so to dig the round out; that's how deep the round penetrated. And we actually -- this is the actual test stand up close. You'll note that we marked it, tagged it, recorded it, and this is the penetrating shot right there. It went so deep it took them quite a bit of time to dig that round out for recovery. We have the video, and we're going to show that to you.
Chart, please. (To staff.) Keep that up, please. Yeah, keep that up. Roll the video, please.
This is an employee of H.P. White Laboratories, one of two National Institutes of Justice certified laboratories in the United States. We've set it up on the test stand. This is the timing. This is the CEO of Pinnacle; you see he's checking the test mount to make sure that the test is not being rigged in any way. There is the shot. This is real time here.
Now there's the employees of H.P. White Laboratories, they're turning around the test stand, and they're going to recover the test article. You see the damage that was done. It matches up with the photo here. The employees of H.P. White are measuring and recording the data. We then do photographic recording of the data. That is the CEO of Pinnacle observing the entire protocol.
Q Has H.P. White released their report on this test?
GEN. BROWN: I'll take your questions when I'm done briefing.
There he is observing it again. He's trying to figure out how deep the bullet went in, and you'll see the employees trying to dig it out.
Q What medium is that?
Do you -- I mean, is that clay or --
GEN. BROWN: That's clay, ballistic clay -- which is much tougher than the human body. You see him peering around behind to see if it had gone all the way through.
Again, I will remind you, we have that type of video and that type of record for every single one of the shots that was taken -- 24 hours of video in all from five different camera angles.
Okay. Temperature cycle is very important, and I already alluded to it. If you are deploying from the Fort Polk area of Louisiana, where it gets quite hot, and you're loading your body armor, you don't wear the body armor on the aircraft. You load the body armor in the belly of the aircraft, and then you go up to 30,000 or 40,000 feet for transit to Baghdad or Fallujah or wherever you're headed.
It's 110 (degrees), 120 (degrees) in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and then when you get up to altitude, it's minus 25 (degrees), and then when you land back down in Baghdad or Kandahar, it's 120 degrees. So what happens is that puts very much of a stress and strain on the product. This was an X-ray of the product prior to that environmental temperature cycling test. This is what it looked like after that cycle. As you see -- if you get a chance to come up here afterwards, each one of these discs has some glue, some adhesive; that temperature cycle and that high temperature and that low temperature play havoc on that adhesive, causing it to delaminate and fall to the bottom of the vest, much like a roll of quarters or a roll of nickels. When that happens, it leaves voids in the armor protection. Again, we didn't see that prior to taking the shot, because the test protocol is you X- ray, you shoot, you re-X-ray. The back shot, both first and second rounds, were complete penetrations, obviously because there was nothing there. That area covers vital organs -- spine, heart, aortic arch, others -- so it failed.
Okay. Background. So we conducted this test, which was just the latest in a series of tests from 16 to 19 May, and I'd like to give you some time relevance here. I took over as the program executive officer for soldier on 15 May 2006. We started the test on 16 May; we conducted it through 19 May. Mr. Masters was the test director; the program manager at the time called me and said, "General, Pinnacle has failed 13 of 48 shots so far. Do you want me to continue with the test?" I said, "What is the actual pass-fail ratio?"
He said, "Sir, if they get one penetration, they fail the test." I said, "And you've already let them do it 13 times?" And he said, "Yes." I said, "Terminate the test." He terminated the test.
Since the inception of the Interceptor body armor program in 1999, Pinnacle has never once responded to a full and open competition. They have never gone head-to-head with other producers that have passed that test protocol with zero penetration. We currently have an ongoing full and open competition. They have not responded to that, to our knowledge, at this point either.
Q Just to be clear, the Interceptor body armor that you have got has never failed any of these tests?
GEN. BROWN: Not in the first article test. We would have a lot that would fail. We test each lot, and if the lot failed, we go back and we say, "What happened? Was it a production mistake, a technical mistake?" And then we'd find out why it failed. But the ones that the soldiers have all passed the first article test.
We also tested the Interceptor body armor using the enhanced small-arms protective inserts and the enhanced side ballistic inserts to the first article test protocol, which I've gone through. And then i talked about all the environmental testing. We've got the first shot at ambient room temperature, as i told you earlier.
Pinnacle SOV-3000 Level IV Dragon Skin suffered catastrophic failure of the ceramic disc adhesive between minus-60 below and 120 degrees and 160 degrees. Minus-60 degrees below are temperatures we experience at Camp Ripley, Minnesota; Alaska; Korea; and at 10,000 feet in Afghanistan, and other places. One hundred twenty degrees, we can experience that nearly in Washington, D.C., but certainly at places like Phoenix in the National Training Center, not to mention Baghdad.
The design is sensitive to extreme temperatures and failed to maintain ballistic integrity at temperatures below ambient in OIF. The failure mode caused the disc to delaminate and accumulate in the lower portion of the armored vest and expose the vital organs. Thirteen first or second shots, it failed four of eight initial subtests with the threat baseline, which is 7.62 by 63 millimeter armor-piercing AP M2 ammunition.
The bottom line is it does not meet Army standards.
We tested eight vests, four failed, 13 penetrating shots out of 48.
Now, in addition to the weight test, I have the actual test articles. This is the test article that went through the temperature cycle test. And you can see the red rods where they were penetrated.
Q Could you just point it up so that we could see it on camera with the pointer? I mean, can you physically go over and point to it so we can just see what you're talking about?
GEN. BROWN: The actual penetration. This is the ambient.
Okay, the one question I wanted to clarify before I throw it open for your questions is, the question was: Why did we issue a Safety of Use Message in March of `06 prior to this test?
Well, as I said in my chronology, I took over as PEO Soldier in -- on 15 May 2006. We started conducting this test on 16 May 2006. My frame of reference was this test. The Safety of Use Message was issued in March of `06 prior to my arrival by my predecessor, Brigadier General James Moran, and approved by Major General Mike Laniers (sp), and put out in theater by the combatant commander of Central Command. The basis for issuing that Safety of Use Message was a series of limited developmental tests leading up to the Safety of Use Message, and I will tell you what they were.
Dragon Skin failed ballistic testing in May `04 at H.P. White Laboratories. We encouraged Dragon Skin to go back to the drawing board and try to solve their problems because we're very interested in these types of armors, we're very interested in these flexible armors. If we can get the problems shaken out of them, we think they offer great potential. That potential has not yet been realized.
Later, from July to December of `05, Army Test and Evaluation Command conducted another developmental test; again the results were inconclusive. And then, in February of `06, Dragon Skin failed an Air Force ballistic test. At that time, we started receiving reports that soldiers and families were starting to buy Dragon Skin with their own money and shipping it into theater, and we wanted to ensure that our soldiers had the best protection available. Therefore, my predecessor issued the Safety of Use Message up the chain of command and it was approved.
And I would ask you to think for a moment -- is the battlefield the right place to live-fire test a piece of equipment? Of course we would issue a Safety of Use Message before we sent the test results and (took ?) down the test results because we didn't know how it was going to perform. We don't give something to a soldier unless we know exactly how it's going to perform, and that's the purpose of the test program.
So I think I've pretty much clarified why we did what we did, and you see the actual test articles.
The bottom line, before I turn it over to you for your questions, this is a 7.62mm x 63mm APM2 round. At the end of the day, this one disc of a Pinnacle SOV-3000 vest has to stop this round. It didn't 13 times.
And I will -- at this point I'll turn it over for your questions.
Q You've made a very compelling case here about why this armor doesn't meet the standard. And you talked to the reporter who did this story, right?
GEN. BROWN: Yes, I did.
Q And presumably, you would have laid -- did you lay out all of this --
GEN. BROWN: Yes, we did.
Q So why do you think that the reporter was unconvinced by what appears to be fairly --
GEN. BROWN: You'll have to ask the reporter. I can't get inside the head of the reporter.
Q Did you feel that the story unfairly portrayed the test results or didn't adequately reflect what --
GEN. BROWN: If you'll note, the story did not discuss our test results. The story discussed the test results that were bought and paid for by the network that sponsored the test.
Q Do you have any reason to think that those -- I mean, were those test results good as far as they went, they just didn't go far enough? Or --
GEN. BROWN: In contravention to what was put out in that report, we have asked for that sort of test data and none has been forthcoming. So we don't know any of the data or the conditions or the angle of shot or the type of rounds that those were conducted under.
Q General, you've had this data for almost a year, actually almost exactly a year. Why was it that you didn't release it until after this NBC report?
GEN. BROWN: I'm very glad you asked that question. We are facing a very media-savvy enemy. They are not only media-savvy, they are Internet-savvy. We call it the "Information Domain of Warfare." Everything that we put out into the public domain, we just must assume that they get. We don't like to discuss our vulnerabilities and our counters to those vulnerabilities in the open public. However, there's a balance to be struck. Our soldiers, and more importantly their families -- the wives, the children, the parents -- have to have confidence that our soldiers have the best equipment in the world.
We felt that the NBC story -- we wanted to give NBC the chance to give a balanced account of the story, and we would wait and see. But we felt that that report tipped the balance in favor of operation security to ensuring that our soldiers, and more importantly their families, have the utmost of confidence in their equipment.
Q Can I follow up?
GEN. CUCOLO: Mark, let me --
GEN. BROWN: Yes, Tony.
GEN. CUCOLO: Okay, so I'm a strategic communicator for the Army, and I could tell you when -- and I took over last June. When these sorts of stories, websites, blogging, kind of put doubt in people's minds that would cause them to do things like have bakesales for body armor, when those sorts of things happen, we considered and took to our senior leadership, and if I could use a term, a, sir, let's take the gloves off on this; let's go and counter.
And quite frankly our senior leadership wanted to stay on the moral high ground of this, and primarily because Pinnacle is a contractor of value. They may come up with something that is good, that meets standards, and the intent was not to blow bridges between us, the Army, and some very credible contractor. And so the idea was, well, let's just hold what we got, and it's just that this most recent news report and its potential impact on Mr. and Mrs. America, the parents and spouses and family members of soldiers, that's why we went with this.
Q Was the Army concerned at all that it would get sued if it released this information, that it would allow Pinnacle to say, you're releasing proprietary information?
GEN. CUCOLO: No.
GEN. BROWN: Let me -- Tony is spot-on.
It is the policy of the United States that we will get goods and services to support the Department of Defense from the maximum extent possible from the commercial industrial base. We cannot go to war without the industrial base. And almost universally the contractors in this country and the Defense producers in this country have responded in magnificent fashion. We can't do it without them. They are a critical piece of the information.
I manage over 400 specific soldier items and deal with thousands and thousands of contractors. We don't see it in the interest of the U.S. Army or in the interest of the Department of Defense to cast aspersions on the good, well-intentioned efforts of any of our contractors, because they may be able to product-improve their product and come back. And we may have something better, and then we're ready to go.
As I've mentioned, we're very interested in this type of armor, this concept. It has great promise, but it is not meeting our requirements as we speak today. I've also said in the past that should Pinnacle make product improvements or changes to their product, we are prepared to look at it again, as we have looked at it four times already since May of '04.
Q The owner of Pinnacle admits that the test may have problems with it. He says there were problems with the adhesive. And what he's calling for is an independent organization to do a test with the new stuff that they've made correcting the problem.
Are you guys open to that idea of having an independent --
GEN. BROWN: If they have a made a product improvement, my first recommendation to them would be to compete in the full and open competition that is currently open right now. The second recommendation I would make to them is to come in and explain to us what their product improvement is.
Q (Off mike) -- lab that's not connected to DOD, an independent lab doing it, or the operational test evaluation -- (off mike)?
GEN. BROWN: We have conducted the same live-fire -- we test to a standard. We have conducted the same test standard for all of our current body armor producers. Every one of them is tasked with zero failures. This has passed with 13 failures. If they make a product improvement, we are willing to test again to that standard and see if they can make it.
But, as I said, it is about the bullet, but it's not all about the bullet. Forty-seven pounds versus 28 pounds -- it's a well-known fact that the architecture for the soldier as a system is the human body. The human body does not change. You should not load the soldier -- although we do it sometimes -- you should not load the soldier with more than one-third of their body weight. For a 150- pound soldier -- many of which our soldiers are -- 47 pounds would be that one-third. That would be before we added a helmet, before we added a rifle, before we added boots, before we added NightSight, before we added water, before we added ammunition, before we added any other mission equipment. It is simply not meeting Army requirements at this time.
Q No, but if an Army soldier weighs 150 pounds -- (off mike)?
GEN. BROWN: Still, whatever size the soldier -- I'm 220 pounds, okay? You're welcome to come up and pick this up after the interview. I think you'll see what I'm talking about. If you put that thing on in 120 degrees in Baghdad, you're going to last 10, 15 minutes. That's before you add artillery protection or you add any other mission equipment. I think you'd like to have a helmet and a rifle, wouldn't you? A rifle weighs six pounds, a helmet weighs 4.5 pounds. That's 10 more pounds right there. Okay.
Q General, can you talk about any congressional interest in this issue before the testing and particularly after this NBC report? They claim that there's calls for hearings, that sort of thing. What have you heard?
GEN. BROWN: Well, we have had congressional interest both before and after. Before, we would normally get inquiries from staff both in the military legislative assistant's personal staff, professional staff or members themselves, and we were glad to go over and brief them. When we briefed them, the universal response was, you have a very compelling case here.
Since the report, we have gotten a flurry of interest, as you might expect, and I believe that we are planning on going over to the Hill on Wednesday or Thursday. We're still working out the dates at this point in time. But yes, there's been a great deal of interest at this time.
Q Is that for hearings or is that just for meetings?
GEN. BROWN: It's for discussions with key members over there.
Q So is the army going to release the testers' report from the May 2006 test?
GEN. BROWN: Again, putting that out in the public domain is informing the enemy. And we have chosen not to do that at this time.
GEN. CUCOLO: Other questions.
Q I just want to clarify. Which portion of this did you present to the reporter for NBC?
GEN. BROWN: All of it.
Q Including the --
GEN. BROWN: We did not give her the actual test articles or show her the actual test articles, but we showed her the video, we showed her the test protocol, the results. And we discussed the user suitability, such as the weight and those sorts of things.
Q Do you believe there was something wrong in the test performed in the NBC report that might -- gave these results?
GEN. BROWN: I don't know anything about that test that was performed, but I'd tell you there were questions raised in my mind because the lab workers that I observed were slapping the body armor up on the test stand with one hand and then strapping it in. If you pick that up, I defy you to say that that lab worker could have done that.
Also, you'll note they were firing through a very calibrated piece of equipment, and they very easily could have targeted that round to hit in the area of coverage of three overlapping discs. I'm not saying that's that happened. I don't know. The fact is, is we don't have any of the test data, and contrary to what was reported on the news, none of that test data -- conditions, shot standards -- have been provided to us.
Q How about our body armor -- (off mike)? Can you comment on that?
GEN. BROWN: What are you specifically --
Q How did they get ESAPI?
GEN. BROWN: Oh. Also, as I mentioned earlier, we have six producers of ESAPI. There are producers out there in the open market, on the Internet and other places, that purport to have ESAPI, but it is either not certified or it is counterfeit. The contracts we have with our six producers are DO-rated contracts. That is a type of contracting priority that means the contractors must provide all of their production to us. If they obtained that test sample from one of those contractors, that contractor was in violation and there may have been things that we need to look into. I'm not convinced that those plates were certified ESAPI plates.
There was also some question about the color.
If you look at the coloring of them, we had a color coding on those plates. One of the NBC News technical advisers informed us, and I quote, "We got these test plates off of your production line in Canada." Unquote. Then, when we went back to him and said, you know, that's very interesting because we don't have any producers in Canada, 24 hours later they came back and recanted and said, "I was in error."
So we don't know where those plates came from or whether they were certified or what.
Q Let me ask, the rounds that penetrated in the case of the Dragon Skin, did they go through the single discs? Did they go through overlapping discs? I'm curious as to whether -- you know, whether they struck the part of the armor that's --
GEN. BROWN: Go to the -- pull the ambient card. It's the very first -- I think it was one of the first charts we had. No, no, the ambient live-fire test protocol.
Room temperature, one bullet, one disc, one penetration. It makes -- passes the common -- you know, we talk about live-fire tests and environmental tests. How about the common-sense test? The common-sense test is that you would want to test this vest at its weakest point, not at its strongest point, although the laws of probability and statistics apply, you might -- through the test protocol, there were times when we hit a double disc area or a single disc area, and in those conditions the vest defeated the threat.
Q Yeah, I understand that. I'm just curious as to whether it defeated the vest at its weakest point or at its strongest point in your tests?
GEN. BROWN: In our test? We defeated it at several points, both one disc, multiple disc.
Q Have you formally responded to NBC about this, told them your concerns?
GEN. BROWN: Yes.
Q And how did you do it? Did you write them a letter? Did you speak to their news --
GEN. BROWN: We've been in constant dialogue with them for weeks.
Q Over this recent report -- reports?
GEN. BROWN: Yes.
Q And what have they told you about --
GEN. BROWN: Well, they have made some changes to their report, and we noted that some of the information we gave them started to be incorporated as the development of the story went on.
Q But did they acknowledge that what was reported was incorrect? Or when you said they made changes, what kind of changes --
GEN. BROWN: No, they never acknowledged that.
Q Well, what were the changes?
GEN. BROWN: Well, they, in initial reports early on, they denigrated a very fine officer and said that he violated the Safety of Use Message and wore Dragon Skin in lieu of Interceptor body armor. And in fact, when they showed a picture of that officer on the television, he was coming into a meeting and he was peeling out of his body armor.
And the very body armor he was peeling out of was interceptor body armor. And that officer has informed us that he never wore Dragon Skin but that he did wear a very small, concealable armor underneath his shirt when he had to go to a dinner at a sheikh's house, so as not to offend his guest. And of course the area had been cleared and so the threat reduction was down, but he was wearing a very light armor underneath his shirt in the home of a sheikh.
Q General, can you say -- do special forces also use the interceptor body armor? Or do they use a different version or even commercially available body armor?
GEN. BROWN: I don't -- I can't speak for the special forces. Although we do R&D and support for the special forces, you'll have to discuss their requirements and their uses with them.
Q Just a quick clarification, was Neal there when you were taking the before-and-after X-rays? And did he see those results? Because he contends that the Army tampered with the vests to get those pictures.
GEN. BROWN: Yes, he was present the whole time.
Q So but how do you explain that the general officer's security detail bought Dragon Skin? How do you explain that?
GEN. BROWN: My understanding is that there was a very well- intentioned warrant officer that went out and thought that he had found something better. Of course that warrant officer was not privy to the test data, privy to the test protocol, and was not an expert in the development and test of body armor. And at any rate General Chiarelli indicates that he never wore Dragon Skin, even though it may have been purchased.
Q Please clarify --
GEN. CUCOLO: If I could --
GEN. BROWN: Yes.
GEN. CUCOLO: I'm only jumping up because I got the transmission from the warrant officer who, again, very well-meaning, didn't know -- was not aware of the Safety of Use Message. The purpose was, gee, I'd like to have something to wear under a shirt like I'm wearing right now when we go into a meeting. Because when we go into meetings, we take off all of our combat gear to sit and converse.
This warrant officer looked around. Someone recommended -- somebody reported that the concealable -- not that, not the outer tactical vest but the concealable, small-arms protectant body armor from Dragon Skin was worthwhile. That warrant officer purchased that body armor.
General Chiarelli put it on for about 10 minutes and then took it off. And just to make a correction, he went into that meeting, much to the chagrin of his personal security detachment, just wearing what all other soldiers would be wearing once they took off their interceptor body armor. And that was nothing, just his Army combat uniform shirt. And he never put it on again.
Now that personal security detachment felt compelled to wear the concealable. But I think it's very important that -- I think the word "concealable" was missed by many. If you listen to the broadcast, and that young soldier, covered up, wearing a hat, with the voiceover in that particular segment was talking about concealable, not soldiers purchasing or wearing the 47-pound Dragon Skin vest. That was not purchased, this undershirt thing.
Q Has the concealable Dragon Skin armor -- has that been tested and found to be --
GEN. BROWN (?): It's tested to a level of requirements, and I could tell you, I can talk about that. General Cucolo is right on the mark.
Look, when I was a little boy, my dad and my granddad said, look, use the right tool for the right job. Okay. The tool for the job when you're going into a sheikh's house is not the same as when you're walking down Main Street Baghdad, Sadr City, Tall Afar, Kirkuk or any of those other places. When you're going in harm's way down those places, you know the bad guys are out there, you know they're going to be shooting at you, you know you're going to be facing hostile threats.
If you're from another agency or if you're taking a dignitary into theater, I guarantee you that area has been cleared prior, which lowers the threat level, and then you've got a security detail around him, which again lowers the threat level, and that's a tailorable type of use.
There are four levels of Dragon Skin. There's SOV-1000, -2000, - 3000 and -4000. We tested the -4000 against our Level IV threat, but you have to use the right tool for the right job. When a Marine or a soldier is going into harm's way down Main Street Kandahar, he's got to be ready.
Q So you don't know whether the concealable is --
GEN. BROWN: I believe that the -- I don't know. I would have to defer that question.
Q (Off mike) -- it hasn't been tested?
GEN. BROWN: I don't know the answer to that. We don't buy concealable body armor as a matter of the Army institution.
Q Just to clarify, is that an OTV or an IOTV that's on the screen?
GEN. BROWN: This is an OTV.
Q You said you were getting reports that these vests are being purchased by people going into theater. Do we know if there were any --
GEN. BROWN: You mean the Dragon Skin 3000? Yeah.
Q Do you know if there are any actual casualties that have resulted from servicemen wearing these vests? And if so, do you have any numbers or estimates of how many actually made it into theater?
GEN. BROWN: I'm not at liberty to release that information at this time.
Q Regarding casualties or regarding -- so, sir, does that mean that there were casualties as a result of it?
GEN. BROWN: I don't know that for sure.
Q Why not?
GEN. BROWN: Well, I have heard reports. But again, you'd have to go to the agencies that have had that problem. And agencies were not the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army uses Interceptor body armor, the Safety of Use Message mandates the use of Interceptor body armor for all soldiers everywhere. There are other organizations over there that may or may not use other body armor, and their performance results have varied. That's been reported to us but we don't -- we're not at liberty to discuss that.
Q But you don't know of any soldiers who --
GEN. BROWN: Not U.S. Army soldiers, no.
Q Who have suffered wounds as a result --
GEN. BROWN: U.S. Army soldiers --
Q -- of wearing Dragon Skin?
GEN. BROWN: U.S. Army soldiers are not supposed to be wearing anything but Interceptor body armor.
Q Because there was a concern that the family members were providing it to the soldiers. I mean, that was --
GEN. BROWN: Well, if they're following orders like good soldiers, they'll be wearing the Interceptor body armor.
GEN. CUCOLO: Another question.
GEN. BROWN: Okay. I'll close by saying once again that force protection is the number one priority of the U.S. Army. We have the best body armor in the world bar none, live-fire tested, proven in combat. We have more than one set for every soldier in theater. I have all the money and all the leadership support I need to pursue improvements to body armor, and we are not resting on our laurels. We are always pursuing better kit for everything, not just body armor. In fact, in the last three years we've eight improvements to Interceptor body armor, and there are more in the queue that are coming very shortly. This is not just some number on the wall, this is personal to us. As I've said, just about every member of my organization is either an active duty or a retired military or has a son or a daughter involved. It's very near and dear to us, and so we take it deadly seriously, which is why we're talking to you today.
So I'd like to thank you for being here, and you can avail yourselves of the product up here.
Thank you very much.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED. UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES. FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.