"We must ensure they have the right equipment to keep them safe, as they fight to keep us safe."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) sent a letter to Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator John Warner (R-Va.) today expressing deep concern over reports that U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq do not have sufficient body armor to protect themselves on the battlefield.
In her letter, Senator Mikulski, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, called for Committee hearings into the status of body armor programs so the Senate can work toward correcting these failures.
"When it comes to protecting the protectors, money should not be an issue," wrote Senator Mikulski. "As Senators, we need to have more information about the reasons for this failure so we can take whatever steps are necessary to correct it."
The text of the letter is below:
January 18, 2006
The Honorable John Warner, Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Warner,
I am horrified by recent reports that body armor vulnerabilities have cost the lives of hundreds of Soldiers and Marines in Iraq. It is simply unacceptable that, after nearly three years in Iraq, we still have not provided our troops with the equipment they need to stay safe on the battlefield.
According to published reports, a study completed in March 2005 by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Bethesda, Md., found that body armor currently being used by our Soldiers and Marines does not protect them from lethal wounds to the shoulder, sides or areas of the torso where the armor does not reach. The Pentagon has apparently been aware of these problems for some time but has failed to get additional protection to the troops who need it.
As Senators, we need to have more information about the reasons for this failure so we can take whatever steps are necessary to correct it. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense, I have raised questions in the past about the Pentagon's problems in fielding vehicle and body armor to our troops in harms way. When it comes to protecting the protectors, money should not be an issue. If this is a management problem or a problem with our procurement system, we need to find new leadership to deliver the best equipment to our troops as quickly as possible.
U.S. troops are performing valiantly in the war on terror. They have earned our gratitude and our support, not just in words but with deeds. We must ensure they have the right equipment to keep them safe, as they fight to keep us safe. I urge you to hold hearings in the Armed Services Committee to investigate the status of our body armor programs.
Thank you for your personal attention to this matter.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator