ajc.com | News | Body armor delays leave GIs at risk

ajc.com | News | Body armor delays leave GIs at risk: “Nearly one-quarter of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq still have not been issued a new type of ceramic body armor strong enough to stop bullets fired from assault rifles.

Delays in funding, production and shipping mean it will be December before all troops in Iraq will have the vests, which were introduced four years ago, military officials said.

Congress approved $310 million in April to buy 300,000 more of the bulletproof vests, with 30,000 of them destined to complete outfitting of troops in Iraq. Of that money, however, only about $75 million has reached the Army office responsible for overseeing the vests’ manufacture and distribution, said David Nelson, an official in that office.

Angry members of Congress say up to 44,000 troops, significantly more than the Pentagon figure, lack the best vests. Relatives of some soldiers have resorted to buying body armor in the United States and shipping it to their loved ones in Iraq, congressional critics say.

The House version of an $86.7 billion Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill passed last week includes $251 million for body armor and for clearing unexploded munitions, although it is unclear whether additional money would speed up the process at this point.


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