Lawmakers want tests of body armor

The Pentagon's unwillingness to consider body armor that would better protect soldiers in Iraq has prompted action by Capitol Hill lawmakers who want independent tests to determine whether or not soldiers are getting the best protection in the field.

In a case where the military may be putting soldiers at risk in order to protect a favored defense contractor has angered lawmakers, soldiers and families of soldiers.

And it is not the first time that the Pentagon has placed protecting a fatcat deal above the lives of the men and women who serve in war.

Writes Donna Borak of The Associated Press:

Lawmakers on Wednesday requested additional independent tests to determine whether standard-issue body armor for U.S. soldiers is more effective than an alternative.

At issue are conflicts between year-old test results released by the Army last month and comparisons made by NBC News and broadcast in May.

"Let's get right down to the nuts and bolts here," Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., ranking member of the House Armed Services committee, said at a hearing on the issue. "Which test is right? Or, maybe, are both of them right?"

NBC News tests conducted May 3 at a ballistics laboratory in Germany, and reviewed by retired U.S. Gen. Wayne Downing, showed that in simulated combat conditions Dragon Skin, made by privately held Pinnacle Armor Inc., outperformed Interceptor, the Army's standard-issue armor.

The Army disputes those results and released a report last month contradicting NBC's claims after the network aired a report on the matter. Senior Army officials said at Wednesday's hearing they were confident in their own "unbiased" test results.

Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson, military deputy to the Assistant Secretary for the Army, said despite the wishes of Congress and Dragon Skin's manufacturer, the Army will not conduct a side-by-side test.