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Military Body Armor Recalled

Associated Press | November 18, 2005

WASHINGTON - The military is recalling more than 18,000 protective vests because they did not meet ballistic test standards when the body armor was made up to five years ago. It is the second recall in about six months.

Some vests in the latest recall may have been used in Iraq or Afghanistan. Made between 1999 and 2001, they were green or woodland camouflage, making it less likely they were used in the Gulf, where troops use the newer, desert-colored camouflage vests.

Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell and Army spokesman Paul Boyce said no Marines or soldiers were at risk because the vest met field test requirements.

The vests did not meet the higher manufacturing standards. Officials discovered the problems in September.

The recall affects only the outer tactical vest and its soft inserts, made by Florida-based Point Blank Body Armor Inc., and not the ceramic insert that also is used in the armor.

A message left with the company late Thursday was not immediately returned.

Because troops may have moved some of the soft inserts from one of the older green vests to a newer desert-colored vest, soldiers and Marines need to check all parts of their body armor for the recall numbers, officials said.

In May, the Marine Corps recalled 5,277 combat vests issued to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti after a newspaper article raised concerns that they failed a test to determine whether they could stop a bullet.

The Marines said they recalled the vests to alleviate any doubts caused by a story in the Marine Corps Times, but service officials insisted they did not believe the vests are faulty. Most of the Point Blank vests passed the tests, but several fell short of the Marines' standards during testing in 2004. At the time, the company said it stands by its products and that there had been no reported failures in the field.

The vests are designed to withstand small arms munitions fired at a certain velocity. The contract specification is higher than the potential threat level in the field, Boyce and Powell said, and therefore there were no incidents where troops were injured because the vest failed. Among the eight lots of the body armor being recalled, more than 10,000 vests went to the Marines and more than 8,000 went to Army soldiers.

According to the company's Web site, the vest is designed to protect against 9 mm pistol rounds and fragments from an explosion.

Both the Army and the Marines have a large number of newer vests, and said there would be no problems providing troops with the better models. (This is NOT the first recall of vests! When is the government going to get it right and protect our Service Personnel??)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

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