Here's the lead paragraph of the New York Times article on the subject:
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.Apparently, the Army has a similar problem:
The Army, which has the largest force in Iraq, is still deciding what to purchase, according to Army procurement officials. They said the Army was deciding among various sizes of plates to give its 130,000 soldiers, adding that they hoped to issue contracts this month.The lack of responsiveness has resulted in a significant number of deaths:
Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds.The data is not new and has been known inside the Pentagon for quite some time:
The Pentagon has been collecting the data on wounds since the beginning of the war in March 2003 in part to determine the effectiveness of body armor. The military's medical examiner, Dr. Craig T. Mallak, told a military panel in 2003 that the information "screams to be published." But it would take nearly two years.
The Marine Corps said it asked for the data in August 2004; but it needed to pay the medical examiner $107,000 to have the data analyzed. Marine officials said financing and other delays had resulted in the study's not starting until December 2004. It finally began receiving the information by June 2005. The shortfalls in bulletproof vests are just one of the armor problems the Pentagon continues to struggle with as the war in Iraq approaches the three-year mark, The Times has found in a continuing examination of the military procurement system.And the Humvees still aren't safe:
The production of a new armored truck called the Cougar, which military officials said had so far withstood every insurgent attack, has fallen three months behind schedule. The small company making the truck has been beset by a host of production and legal problems.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is still relying on another small factory in Ohio to armor all of the military's principal transport trucks, the Humvee, and it remains backlogged with orders. The factory, owned by Armor Holdings, increased production in December after reports in The Times about delays drew criticism from Congress. But the Marine Corps said it was still waiting for about 2,000 of these vehicles to replace other Humvees in Iraq that are more lightly armored, and did not expect final delivery until June.This might help explain why support for the Bush administration's war of choice in Iraq has lost support within the military.
Bushie, you're doing a heck of a job! You, too, Rummy!