Shoddy State Department Body Armor Likely Kills U.S. Diplomats – No One Held Accountable

In a largely unknown scandal, skimpy and substandard body armor supplied by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) likely led to the deaths overseas of up to twelve U.S. government employees and Foreign Service Officers, and injuries to many others, for which no one has ever been was held accountable.  This is a summary of that scandal.

Matthew J. Nasuti was the youngest Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles history (age 23).  He later served as a manager with Bechtel‘s Defense and Space Division and as a U.S. Air Force Captain (JAG) with Logistics Command and the 1st Special Operations Wing.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of State recognized Mr. Nasuti as an expert on reconstruction and appointed him as a special adviser on Iraq.  He was hired by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs/Iraq Transition Assistance Office (NEA/ITAO) and assigned to the Baghdad-4 Provincial Reconstruction Team

Mr. Nasuti pioneered numerous safety and  security improvements for embassy field personnel deployed in conflict countries.  It turns out that these were contrary to the agenda of some officials within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).   After falling out of favor, Mr. Nasuti subsequently left the agency.

Among other problems that Mr. Nasuti uncovered were that DS officials were supplying embassy employees with cheap Kevlar helmets along with ineffective ceramic plate armor.  The National Football League (NFL) provides its players with better concussion-protective helmets than the U.S. Government provides to those it sends into harm’s way (so much for “Supporting our Troops”).  Ceramic armor should never have been supplied to either State Department or U.S. military personnel due to its risk of unseen fractures (that could compromise and render it useless), its excessive and unnecessary weight, and the poor coverage it provides.  These findings were also made by the U.S. Government itself in 2006, but it refused to act on them.  See  Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor, By MICHAEL MOSS  JAN. 7, 2006 (The New York Times).

Within the State Department, Mr. Nasuti attempted to internally build consensus for and began promoting the idea of light-weight layered body armor (titanium and rigid Kevlar) and other state-of-the-art innovations for head, eye, hearing, arm and leg protection.  Mr. Nasuti also pioneered the return of old-fashion shields (upgraded with new tech).

Anyone can research these U.S. diplomat casualties.  Simply Google “Terry Barnich photo,” or “Kelly Hunt Afghanistan photos” and then click on “Images” and (in Kelly’s case) scroll down to the picture of her sitting in jeans half in and half out of an armored vehicle in Afghanistan, or do the same for Anne Smedinghoff.   It is plain to see that the armor they were provided with was skimpy, the wrong type and decades behind.

Image result for kelly hunt afghanistan

Mr. Nasuti eventually filed suit against Secretary of State John Kerry in an attempt to force the State Department to better protect its diplomats overseas.  Mr. Nasuti’s efforts had the support of the President of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).  Despite that, numerous lackluster MSPB and Federal judges uncourageously washed their hands of the matter, refusing again to hold an evidentiary hearing (as the whole issue was too controversial).  Parents should never have to bury their children, but that repeatedly happened due to Federal Court and Federal official indifference.  The protections that Mr. Nasuti advocated for in 2008 remain superior to, more innovative and effective than anything currently being provided to U.S. forces.   They have been promoted to the White House, CIA, Congress and others.  Who knows how many military and State Department lives could have been saved and injuries avoided if these innovations had been implemented in 2008.

    The U.S. Government Intentionally Caused Deaths/Injuries to U.S. Diplomats

The list of dead continues to grow.  We lost Steven Lee Farley (2008) and Terry Barnich (2009) in Iraq, Anne Smedinghoff (2013) in Afghanistan, Dave Foy in Karachi (2006), John Granville in Khartoum (2008) and then Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glenn Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods in Benghazi (2012).  DS officer Edward Seitz died during a rocket attack on Baghdad in 2004.  Another DS officer Stephen Sullivan was killed in a bomb explosion in Mosul in 2005, and Army civilian Barbara Heald and Navy Commander Keith Taylor were killed in a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2005.   This does not include countless wounded, which the State Department does not report on.

The State Department investigates each fatality that occurs overseas, but inexplicably classifies 100% of every report, keeping such out of the public domain, while also withholding such from the families of the deceased.  Despite this questionable secrecy, we do know facts about the fatalities.  They all died of either blast or shrapnel injuries.  Kelly Hunt suffered head trauma, while Anne Smedinghoff apparently died of internal abdominal injuries.  As they were all wearing body armor that only covered a small percentage of their body area, it is logical to argue that more comprehensive and better quality armor, covering more of their bodies (which is what this author supported), might very well have saved their lives and/or prevented their injuries.  Surprisingly, this was the conclusion of a major U.S. Marine Corps study in 2006.  As reported by The New York Times (see the story at the end of this article), the Pentagon’s conclusion was that a modest increase in body armor coverage could potentially prevent thousands of deaths/injuries.  When Mr. Nasuti joined the State Department in 2008, none of this had yet occurred and today, ten years later, it still has not; such omissions being nothing short of criminal.

Note:  Another reason for the State Department’s secrecy was revealed by the Chicago Tribune, which investigated the 2013 death of Illinois resident Anne Smedinghoff in Qalat, Afghanistan.  The Tribune confirmed that some State Department documents are classified in order to protect State Department officials from embarrassment and accountability.  It turns out that the “mission” Anne was on was unnecessary.  It was called a “happy snaps” mission.  It was a photo opportunity where a mid-level embassy official would be photographed handing a textbook to a “grateful” Afghan school child.  The mission required a U.S. Army escort and substantial expense just to take a worthless photo that no one would ever see.  It was later learned that U.S. embassy officials had leaked word of the event to local Afghan politicians who passed that along to the Taliban which then staged a suicide bombing.

At the conclusion of this web page are two article excerpts from the New York Times on this body armor issue.  Also on-line is a 2008 U.S. Department of State Inspector General report, AUD/SI-08-21.   Its title is; Concern With the Department’s Replacement of Body Armor.”   The findings reveal that the Bureau was intentionally refusing to replace out of date body armor, and it was refusing to advise Embassy employees of the risks and dangers.  Inexplicably, the IG then dropped its investigation after objections by DS officials and the matter was buried.  The IG of course demanded no accountability.

                                                    Body Armor Primer

Background:

As of July, 2018, 6,954 American service members have been killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  The State Department, CIA and other agencies have also lost people.  The total number of injured remains unknown.  While there are Department of Defense statistics on direct combat injuries (due to bullets, shrapnel etc.), there are no complete statistics on the staggering numbers of indirect injuries, which are pushed over to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to treat.  They may eventually be finalized in the millions.  The rate for injuries caused by factors other than bullets and shrapnel is twice what it has been for any other recent conflict.

Military physicians are struggling to devise treatment protocols for the staggering numbers of injured.  These include personnel suffering from TMIs, PTSDs, respiratory problems due to inhalation of burn pit emissions, auditory and ocular injuries, and epidemic levels of musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders.   Despite the fact that means have long existed to prevent a significant portion of the above, they have not been adopted.  A major cause of these deaths and injuries is inadequate personal protective equipment.   The preventative remedies set forth in this report are expensive, but not when compared to the costs of treatment, and insignificant compared to the incalculable cost of losing someone.  It is unacceptable that we provide NFL players with better helmets than the people that we order into harm’s way to protect us, while we sit safely at home.

          In the past, body armor was so heavy that military and security forces had to choose the type of protection they wanted.  They could focus on ballistic (i.e., bullet) protection, or blast/explosion/ shrapnel protection.   The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (“DS”), its Countermeasures Directorate (DS/C), and within that its Office of Physical Security Programs (DS/C/PSP) have inexplicably chosen to outfit U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan with ballistic protection when they (in Iraq and Afghanistan) were more likely to face attacks by mortars, car bombs or IEDs and needed blast protection.  It appears that DS’ rationale was cost, despite the fact that it was the wrong type of armor.  It was cheaper to buy U.S. military hand-me-down ballistic (ceramic) armor from the Iraq war so DS saved money.  DS then turned around and lavished taxpayer funds on its security contractors.

Ideally, any personal protective equipment selected should protect all the key areas of the body, such as the brain, vision, hearing, core areas and extremities, from all of the most likely threats.  We will address each area in turn:

  1.   Protecting the Brain

Combat-sustained brain injuries have the potential to be so serious that the government established a Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) in Silver Springs, Maryland.  It tracks traumatic brain injuries (TMI) in categories of mild, moderate, severe and penetrating.  The data is incomplete because not all injuries are reported and potentially because the military has a slightly different definition of concussion vs. TMI.  Another flaw is that the DVBIC apparently only counts the first TMI each military member receives.  It appears to deem the second, third and fourth TMIs to be neither statistically nor medically relevant, despite the importance of preventing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can result from successive brain traumas.

Where TBI are present, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rates also soar.   One of the first major studies of Vietnam veterans was the four-volume National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study, commissioned by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 1984.  It found that 15% of veterans suffered from PTSD.  A reanalysis of that study in 2003, called the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study identified more that 280,000 male theatre veterans as suffering from full (permanent) PTSD, with another 83,000 suffering from subthreshold PTSD.   One will search in vain through the DVBIC’s website (http://www.dvbic.dcoe.mil) for any mention of prevention.

The primary vehicle for preventing TBI (other than making peace) is the old-fashioned, been around for perhaps five thousand years, helmet.  The U.S. government has chosen to use a Kevlar helmet in place of the previous steel helmets of WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Contrary to myth, these helmets will not protect anyone from the direct (90 degree) impact of a rifle bullet.  While the round may not penetrate the helmet, the kinetic energy of the round will kill the wearer.  Kevlar helmets only protect against glancing rounds and protect against shrapnel and other blast debris.

The traditional U.S. military helmet also has an alteration tailored to soldiers in combat, which detracts from the helmet’s protection.  Military helmets have a high back so that soldiers in the prone position can fire their weapons without the helmet riding up on them.  As a result, military helmets lack protection for the lower back of the head and neck

The standard U.S. military Kevlar helmet has evolved over the years from the original PASGT helmet to the MICH helmet to the current Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH).  One would think that helmets would progress forward by providing more protection, but instead, the regressive ACH is about 8% smaller in head coverage than the old PASGT.  In the bizarre world of the Pentagon, this reduction in safety coverage is praised in its literature!  The ACH boasts “greater situational awareness” (because it is smaller).  The reduced size also allows for the attachment of more communication gear to the helmet.

The ACH is offered in four generic sizes (small, medium, large and extra-large) and has simple gel inserts which offered limited cushioning for concussion protection.  The U.S. military acknowledges that there may be better energy-absorbing materials available, but it will only currently state that they remain “under study.”

This author discovered in 2008 that the best anti-concussion research had been pioneered by the National Football League (NFL).   NFL doctors and engineers, in researching concussions, long ago devised a helmet laced with rows of shock absorbers.  Their helmets were also designed to rotate slightly in order to better absorb lateral impacts.

Recently, the NFL has unveiled its VICIS Zero1 helmet.  It has four layers of protection.  There is an outer layer that crumbles like an automobile bumper to absorb the initial shock of an impact, and then it springs back to form.  Then there are columns of polymers that operate as shock absorbers to omnidirectionally disperse impacts.  Third there is a hard inner shell, and finally a layer of memory foam that rests against the head.

What the NFL understands is that there are about a dozen cranial sizes, apparently ranging from 54-64 centimeters in circumference, so it realized that it could not provide generic helmets.  As a result, NFL providers obtain detailed measurements of each player’s skulls and manufacture a helmet for each individual player’s unique head size and shape.  That is a real commitment to safety.   The price tag for the Zero1 is about $1500.00.

Because the U.S. military only provides generic and ill-fitting helmets to its personnel, it was forced to issue a 184-page manual with each ACH helmet (TM-10-8470-204-10).  It is laced with pages of warnings, mixed in with detailed instructions on adjusting all the components of the helmet to help it to fit and remain functional.  This manual would not be needed for a quality, custom helmet individually manufactured for each soldier or Marine.

  1.   Protecting the Eyes and Face

Vision loss is another tragic consequence of warfare.  It manifests itself in many forms.  There are permanent cavitation injuries, burn injuries, visual dysfunction due to a TMI and a wide range of indirect ocular trauma. Some ocular trauma can take years to translate into vision issues.  The solution is of course ballistic ocular protection.

Military members riding in exposed vehicles usually wear wraparound polycarbonate face shields (which are available in at least two thicknesses).  In addition simple ballistics glasses are mandatory for personnel in the field (which look no different from regular sun glasses).  This level of protection is inadequate.

The best solution is a combination of Lexan face-shields (which will fit over a Kevlar helmet), and ballistic goggles, for which there are U.S. military specifications.  One goal is to keep debris, heat and munitions as far away from the eyes as possible.  There also needs to be attention given to adequate tinting in order to prevent or limit corneal flash burns from explosions.  This seems to be a mislabeled term as the injury (bleaching) is actually to the retinal pigments.   Flash burns can be 400% worse if there is a night-time explosion.  While personnel on patrol or driving vehicles may not be able to wear dark sun glasses at night, the passengers in all vehicles can and should.

  1.   Protecting One’s Hearing

Tinnitus and hearing loss are consistently the top two service connected disability claims filed with the VA.   Auditory injury and disorders appear to impact 60% of all veterans.  In FY2009 the VA paid out $1.1 billion to 1.2 million veterans for SHIs (severe hearing impairments).  In 2013 the payout rose to $1.4 billion.  As with vision loss, there are a wide range of auditory injuries, including those resulting from a loss of one or both auricles.  Today the VA reportedly buys one out of every five hearing aids sold in the United States.

There is no clear consensus within the DoD, VA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as to what is a safe level of impact noise (i.e., what is the lowest level of impact noise which causes permanent hearing damage).  OSHA has set this level at 140 decibels, while other experts set it at 130 decibels or lower.  The goal of hearing protection is to reduce the decibel level to that which is “safe.”  Hearing protection can consist of ear plugs, ear muffs or both.

Standard ear plugs might reduce noise 15-20 decibels, while ear muffs might add another 25 decibels.  That is 45 decibels of reduction.  In firing a 38 caliber pistol, the noise would be about 165 decibels, so this combination would work.  However, the firing of an 81mm mortar generates noise levels of 185 decibels.  In that situation, the off-the-shelf protection simply will not protect, even if ear plugs are combined with ear muffs.

The detonation of an IED under or near a vehicle creates not just damaging impact noise, but also reverberant sound within the vehicle as the sound bounces off the walls and within the cabin of the vehicle.  This magnifies the sound.  Sound can literally kill, or at least maim and disable.  Sound can also enter the body through points other than the ear canal.  The potential health effects of impact sound entering the body cavity seemed to be little understood.

In order to counter these high levels of deadly sound, some companies market individually poured ear-plugs.  A representative pours warm wax into each concha to create an impression and then customized ear plugs are manufactured from each impression.  Not only are everyone’s ear openings slightly different, but each person has different ear openings for each ear.  The goal is improved decibel reduction.  Other companies make molds using materials other than poured wax.  The U.S. government, apparently, has never used, promoted or authorized this level of auditory protection.

  1.   Protecting the Upper Body

Within the U.S. military, lower back pain (LBP) is the most common injury suffered by deployed soldiers.  A study by the U.S. Army and the University of Pittsburgh looked at a single brigade combat team of 805 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.  After a year’s deployment, 22% suffered moderate or worse LBP, with 77% reporting minor LBP.  While age played a role, wearing body armor and carrying heavy loads on patrol seemed to create the highest risks.  The data was reported by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. 3   Back injuries were reported to be the number one diagnosis for personnel that had to be evacuated from combat theatres.  One of the deficiencies in these data is that cervical, thoracic and lumbar pain all seems to be reported as LBP.  It is also difficult to study the causes because neck, shoulder, back, knee dislocations and tears, and foot and ankle injuries all seem to be reported separately.

The cumulative impact of wearing forty-plus pounds of body armor, along with all one’s other gear, has contributed to an estimated one million military back injuries since 2001.  This includes misaligned vertebrae, bulging and herniated disks, pinched/compressed nerves, chronic lower back pain and degenerative arthritis.  Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders are at epidemic levels among post 9/11 veterans.

The primary culprit is the ceramic armor plate.  These plates, which fit into a canvas vest, are provided in two sizes, a medium front plate to cover the stomach and abdomen, and a larger back plate to cover the lower back.  Some military members wear smaller side inserts.

Ceramic armor plating has a number of deficiencies, which have been known for decades.  Besides weight, the biggest defects are that the plates only cover a small percentage of the body surface, and that ceramic armor can develop undetected defects.  Ceramic armor comes with a disclaimer from the manufacturer that it highlights:

                               “Ceramic Rifle Plates can be damaged if dropped”

It goes on to say that they can develop “UNSEEN internal fractures.”  If the plates develop an invisible crack, they are useless as ballistic protection. There is no way to confirm that the ceramic plates are safe to use without x-raying each piece of armor plating on a regular basis which the U.S. government does not appear to do.  What this means is that the excessively heavy ceramic plates that a soldier or Marine has been lugging around all month, might actually be useless at stopping bullets.  In summary, ceramic armor is cheap, heavy, affords limited bodily protection and may be useless if it develops unseen fractures.  Its use should be immediately discontinued.   In its place are numerous solutions, depending on the threat.

Wrap-Around Protection

The best protection from explosions, car bombs and IEDs is an armor system that wraps around the employee, protecting as much of the body as possible, while still permitting movement and completion of the mission.  The German army produces a high quality flack vest. It consists of a vest lined with thick soft Kevlar covering the chest, back, sides, shoulders, neck and upper arms.  While the vest had no bullet-stopping capabilities, unless it is mated with layered armor plates, it had substantial blast and shrapnel protection over the entire upper body.  The vest also has the ability to absorb kinetic energy from a blast or from flying debris.

Layered Armor and Bullet-Proof Backpacks

     [Inner City School Children Have Better Armor Then Some U.S. Employees]

In 2008, this author purchased a rigid Kevlar shield inert for a backpack that was being marketed to inner city school children.  It weighs only a few ounces and fits inside of a large backpack.  The insert is 17-layer rigid Kevlar, which exceeds NIJ 3 standards.  Not only would it protect the entire back from blast and shrapnel (or the whole body if one ducked behind it), but it would stop a 44-magnum pistol round fired at point blank range.  He tracked down the inventor of the shield and had a long conversation with him about how to adapt the rigid Kevlar into a barrier against a 7.62 mm AK-47 round.  The idea was to layer or sandwich a thin sheet of titanium in front of the Kevlar.  The rigid Kevlar is strong enough to grab and hold an AK round, but only if it is first either blunted or forced to spin.  The titanium should be able to do that.  This layered would provide ballistic (NJ Level IV) protection for twice as much body area at a fraction of the weight of ceramic plate armor or ballistic steel plate armor.  These ideas have apparently never been endorsed by the government.

While government officials acknowledge the deficiencies in ceramic armor, their solution was to begin shifting special operations personnel and other security personnel to ballistic steel plate armor and titanium plate armor.  This is a typical government response, which is to proceed slowly and incrementally.  The ballistic steel is more reliable than ceramic, but just as heavy, and the titanium is a third-less heavy than steel, so it reduces the weight slightly.  Government bureaucrats have displayed no leadership in jumping to state-of-the-art layered armor.

BulletBlocker NIJ IIIA Canvas Classic Pack

  1.   Protecting the Lower Torso

Based on a Vietnam-era helicopter crew innovation, this author purchased some large pieces of soft Kevlar that one could sit on while in a HUMVEE or helicopter and use to wrap around one’s lower half.  There are also ballistic knee pads, shin guards, gaiters, WWII-era Marine leggings and pre-war puttees.  The latter three were primarily to protect against snake bites but could be upgraded with Kevlar to provide excellent shrapnel protection.

  1.   Protecting Extremities

Ballistic vambraces and Kevlar wristbands are a good value for protecting the lower legs and wrists.   Lumberjacks have long worn Kevlar pants to protect their legs from a chain saw blade that slips.  There are enhanced tactical gloves on the market that are manufactured with a mix of Kevlar and Nomex.  Nomex is the same fire-resistant material that most firefighters’ wear.  Some gloves also are crush resistant, as they have a thick plastic backing that you don’t even notice when wearing them.  All of this is superior to that currently issued by the U.S. government.

  1.   Other Body Armor Innovations

If one Googles “bullet proof clipboard” you will find that numerous companies are marketing a standard 9 x 12.5 clipboard. Some have UL Level 3 protection (that means they will stop a 44 mag. 240 grain round traveling at 1350 fps/411 m/s).  The clipboard can be put into a briefcase or backpack and costs $40-70 (weight about 4 pounds).  Larger clipboards can be custom-ordered.

  1.   Gender-Specific Body Armor

There are manufacturers of gender-specific body armor designed to fit differing body styles and designs of males and females.  Body armor needs to, fit snugly.  Unisex body armor compels some persons to wear the armor looser because it does not conform to their body shape.  That looseness harms the effectiveness of the armor, thereby increasing the dangers to the wearer.  This innovation has apparently not been adopted by the U.S. government.

9.   The Captain America Shield

The final item this author has been promoting is to create a shield for personnel sent into the field.  Literally an 18″ – 24″ diameter old fashioned metal shield that armies have carried for thousands of years.  There have long been such 18-gauge steel shields on the market.  The idea is to layer a sheet of titanium over a layer of rigid Kevlar and put it on top of the layer of eighteen-gauge steel.  It would be held on by a thin layer of aluminum welded around the components and onto the base shield.   The goal is to keep the weight under twenty pounds.  There are light-weight plastics coming on the market such as Twaran that might also work.

Who would possibly want to enter a hostile combat environment (a building, courtyard or street intersection) or risk an IED blast without a shield out in front of them?  Current government body armor is designed to have bullets hit an inch away from your skin, with the hope that the armor will stop the round.  The Captain America shield has the potential for stopping the bullet at eighteen inches, so that the deadly kinetic energy is kept well away from the body.  It is amazing that we do not use shields.  Somehow the idea is that a shield is old technology and we are high-tech, which is silly.  As shown in the following photograph, the U.S. military uses this same concept to explode ordinance a foot away from its armored vehicles.

10.    Conclusions

Body Areas at Risk                           U.S. Government Armor Adequately Protects

                                                            Yes                                          No

Brain                                                                                                   X

Face                                                                                                     X

Vision                                                                                                 X

Hearing                                                                                              X

Chest                                                                                                   X

Back                                                                                                    X

Stomach/Abdomen                                                                          X

Arms/Hands                                                                                      X

Knees/Legs                                                                                        X

Some of the PPE solutions set out in this report are moderately expensive, yet in relative terms, the costs of prevention are tiny compared to the costs of treatment, and they are insignificant compared to the incalculable cost of losing someone.  Within the Federal bureaucracy, inexplicably, there has never been support for state-of-the-art protective equipment for our people in the field.  How can we possibly justify providing NFL players with better helmets than the people that we order into harm’s way to protect us while we sit safely at home?  Officials are quite comfortable spending a billion dollars on the new U.S. Embassy in London or $300 million for a single fighter plane, but when it comes to body armor, all that the ordinary soldier or Marine rates is cheap ceramic armor and out-of-date helmets.  The seeming position is that people are repairable, or in the alternative, fungible and ultimately replaceable.

In the consensus-driven, leaderless environment, which has been the U.S. Government, no one to-date had been willing to pick a fight with security officials over this shoddy, skimpy and inadequate body armor.  It is never too late to revisit prevention.  Support our Troops has to be more than just a slogan.

Note:   Another troubling and shameful aspect of this scandal is that the medical staffs at the State Department and Defense Department continue to remain silent.  There are major medical research centers within the Defense Department dedicated to auditory, eye and head trauma (among others).  On their websites they exclusively advocate treatment rather than prevention.  No one within the government is actively criticizing the shoddy, skimpy and cheap body armor, eye protection and hearing protection (too controversial – careers some first – better to let unnecessary deaths and injuries happen).  Not even a mention about prevention!  So much for the Hippocratic Oath.  This is the biggest scandal people have never heard of.

Note:  To understand the State Department and how these things could happen, we must  briefly step back to 2008.   When this Author was in the Department in 2008, he was outraged at the Iraq and Afghanistan planning.  Officials sat in meeting rooms at the Foreign Service Institute planning parties they were going to throw in the Green Zone in Baghdad.  This, while U.S. troops were dying outside the wire.  The Department rejected the military’s rule that all posts in Iraq be dry (no alcohol).  The diplomats had such a hard life that they needed their alcohol, and drinking parties there were notorious.  Foreign Service Officers boasted about being able to work and live like Saddam, as the U.S. was initially inhabiting his former palace (which was sickening).  More importantly this author never heard the “w” word (winning).  It absolutely never was mentioned by anyone.  People were going to these posts in order to fill slots and meet obligations, not to win.  This is but a fraction of the reasons why the civilian surges all failed and why billions in USAID projects were wasted, all with no accountability.  Losing became the same as winning.  Neither impacted anyone’s careers.

==========================================

From: Robert Silverman <Silverman@afsa.org>
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2014 3:50 PM
To: matthew nasuti
Subject: Letter From AFSA President

Good luck and keep me informed

From: matthew nasuti
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2014 6:32 PM
To: Patrick Bradley
Cc: Robert Silverman
Subject: Letter From AFSA President

Thanks folks:
Let’s hope that one of our two approaches prods DS into supplying body armor more protective of blast/fragmentation injuries and convinces the Department to discard the ceramic armor in favor of titanium/Kevlar.  DS’s management is a long way from the state of the art.

Regards
Matthew

From: Bradley@afsa.org
Subject: Letter From AFSA President
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:53:27 +0000

Dear Mr. Nasuti,
Please see the attached letter from AFSA President Robert Silverman. President Silverman and AFSA State Vice President Matthew Asada also want to share with you the attached copy of the briefing request we sent into management on this issue.
Thank you and have a nice weekend,
Patrick

Patrick G. Bradley
AFSA Executive Assistant
American Foreign Service Association
2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Bradley@afsa.org
202-944-5506
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Army Bans Privately Bought Body Armor

APRIL 1, 2006

By The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 31 — About six months after the Pentagon said it would reimburse soldiers who bought their own gear to use in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has prohibited the wearing of body armor not issued by the military.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and systems management, said Friday that the government had “provided the best body armor available anywhere in the world” to soldiers deployed abroad, and that the Army was not satisfied that commercial body armor purchased by some soldiers conformed to the military’s safety standards.

Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor

By MICHAEL MOSS  JAN. 7, 2006 (The New York Times)

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.

The ceramic plates in vests now worn by the majority of troops in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines’ shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.

Thirty-one of the deadly wounds struck the chest or back so close to the plates that simply enlarging the existing shields “would have had the potential to alter the fatal outcome,” according to the study, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Wired.Com, DAM RAWNSLEY

FUBAR: ARMY BLEW TESTS ON 5 MILLION BODY ARMOR PLATES

Updated: This story was updated with new information from Stars and Stripes on August 5, 2011 at 5:42 EDT

The U.S. Army didn’t bother to properly test five million body armor plates that were supposed to protect soldiers on the battlefield. In some cases, certain tests of the live-saving gear were ignored altogether.

That’s according to a new report from the Defense Department Inspector General, which found that the Army office in charge of insuring the armor’s quality essentially fell asleep at the switch. Inserts were tested improperly and in some cases not at all. The testing flubs don’t prove that all five million plates are defective, but they deprive the Army of information about the reliability of a lot of equipment needed to protect troops in the field.

“The Army cannot be sure that the appropriate level of protection has been achieved,” the report says. Now, it’ll go back and retest the vests, some of which were bought as long as seven years ago.