The U.S. Army announced plans Tuesday to issue improved protective equipment to troops in Iraq this year, in the form of side-panel inserts for the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) vests. The IBA improvement program is perhaps a consequence of an internal Marine Corps study that showed a significant percentage of casualties resulted from impacts to lesser-protected areas of the vest.
But rather than applauding the improvements, some lawmakers have taken the position that the older version of the body armor (without such side protection) amounts to negligence on the part of the manufacturer, the Pentagon, and the Bush Administration. The DoD’s response continues to be that equipment improvements such as this represent a significant logistical challenge and do not happen overnight. Furthermore, additional body armor means more weight for already overburdened soldiers to carry, and the increase in protection may come at the price of decreased capability, particularly in rifle marksmanship and mobility.
Is the criticism of the DoD merely an attempt to politicize a purely technical issue, or should this ‘improvement’ have been made long ago? Was the addition of this improved armor simply an attempt to deflect such political criticism in the first place?
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