Author Topic: (US) Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits  (Read 33073 times)

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Offline 0tto Destruct

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A more cynical guy than I might say this is may be due to pressure from defence contractors...if aftermarket kit consistantly outperforms what is issued, that might be seen as a threat the next time the contracts come up for competition/tender (unsure of the term). That could result in some significant political pressure on the US Army to adopt ridiculous policies like this one.

Thoughts?

 :dontpanic:

Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits

By Nathaniel R. Helms
 
Two deploying soldiers and a concerned mother reported Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army appears to be  singling out soldiers who have purchased Pinnacle's Dragon Skin Body Armor for special treatment. The soldiers, who are currently staging for combat operations from a secret location, reported that their commander told them if they were wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin and were killed their beneficiaries might not receive the death benefits from their $400,000 SGLI life insurance policies. The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action.

 The soldiers asked for anonymity because they are concerned they will face retaliation for going public with the Army's apparently new directive. At the sources' requests DefenseWatch has also agreed not to reveal the unit at which the incident occured for operational security reasons. 

 On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.

 "We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply." he said.

 The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action "could" be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.

 As of this report Saturday morning the Army has not yet responded to a DefenseWatch inquiry.

 Recently Dragon Skin became an item of contention between proponents of the Interceptor OTV body armor generally issued to all service members deploying in combat theaters and its growing legion of critics.  Critics of the Interceptor OTV system say it is ineffective and inferior to Dragon Skin, as well as several other commercially available body armor systems on the market. Last week DefenseWatch released a secret Marine Corps report that determined that 80% of the 401 Marines killed in Iraq between April 2004 and June 2005 might have been saved if the Interceptor OTV body armor they were wearing was more effective. The Army has declined to comment on the report because doing so could aid the enemy, an Army spokesman has repeatedly said.

 A U.S. Army spokesman was not available for comment at the time DW's original report (Friday - 1700 CST) was published. DefenseWatch continues to seek a response from the Army and will post one as soon as it becomes available. Yesterday the DoD released a news story through the Armed Forces News Service that quoted Maj. Gen. Steven Speaks, the Army's director of force development, who countered critical media reports by denying that the U.S. military is behind the curve in providing appropriate force protection gear for troops deployed to Iraq and elsewhere in the global war against terrorism. The New York Tiimes and Washington Post led the bandwagon of mainstream media that capitalized on DefenseWatch's release of the Marine Corps study. Both newspapers released the forensic information the Army and Marines are unwilling to discuss.

"Those headlines entirely miss the point," Speaks said.

The effort to improve body armor "has been a programmatic effort in the case of the Army that has gone on with great intensity for the last five months," he noted.

Speaks' assessment contradicts earlier Army, Marine and DoD statements that indicated as late as last week that the Army was certain there was nothing wrong with Interceptor OTV body armor and that it was and remains  the "best body armor in the world."

One of the soldiers who lost his coveted Dragon Skin is a veteran operator. He reported that his commander expressed deep regret upon issuing his orders directing him to leave his Dragon Skin body armor behind. The commander reportedly told his subordinates that he "had no choice because the orders came from very high up" and had to be enforced, the soldier said. Another soldier's story was corroborated by his mother, who helped defray the $6,000 cost of buying the Dragon Skin, she said. 

The mother of the soldier, who hails from the Providence, Rhode Island area, said she helped pay for the Dragon Skin as a Christmas present because her son told her it was "so much better" than the Interceptor OTV they expected to be issued when arriving  in country for a combat tour.

"He didn't want to use that other stuff," she said. "He told me that if anything happened to him I am supposed to raise hell."

At the time the orders were issued the two soldiers had already loaded their Dragon Skin body armor onto the pallets being used to air freight their gear into the operational theater, the soldiers said. They subsequently removed it pursuant to their orders.

Currently nine U.S. generals stationed in Afghanistan are reportedly wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin body armor, according to company spokesman Paul Chopra. Chopra, a retired Army chief warrant officer and 20+-year pilot in the famed 160th "Nightstalkers" Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), said his company was merely told the generals wanted to "evaluate" the body armor in a combat environment. Chopra said he did not know the names of the general officers wearing the Dragon Skin.

Pinnacle claims more than 3,000 soldiers and civilians stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing Dragon Skin body armor, Chopra said. Several months ago DefenseWatch began receiving anecdotal reports from individual soldiers that they were being forced to remove all non-issue gear while in theater, including Dragon Skin body armor, boots, and various kinds of non-issue ancillary equipment.

Last year the DoD, under severe pressure from Congress, authorized a one-time $1,000 reimbursement to soldiers who had purchased civilian equipment to supplement either inadequate or unavailable equipment they needed for combat operations. At the time there was no restriction on what the soldiers could buy as long as it was specifically intended to offer personal protection or further their mission capabilities while in theater.

Nathaniel R. Helms is the editor of DefenseWatch Magazine. He can be reached at natshouse1@chater.net. Please send all inquiries and comments to dwfeedback@yahoo.com .

http://www.sftt.org/main.cfm?actionId=globalShowStaticContent&screenKey=cmpDefense&htmlCategoryID=30&htmlId=4514

Offline Sheep Dog AT

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One of the positive things about the US gov't is that the politician generally support the troops.  Therefore if I were one of those parents I'd team up with Pinnacle and go to my member of Congress and demand answers.
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Offline Allan Luomala

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This is the part that I liked:

Quote
Currently nine U.S. generals stationed in Afghanistan are reportedly wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin body armor, according to company spokesman Paul Chopra. Chopra, a retired Army chief warrant officer and 20+-year pilot in the famed 160th "Nightstalkers" Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), said his company was merely told the generals wanted to "evaluate" the body armor in a combat environment. Chopra said he did not know the names of the general officers wearing the Dragon Skin.

I'm thinking that generals rarely do T&E on field gear. When I did the trials for the new gloves (back in the mid-90's), I was the ranking NCO (at the lofty rank of Cpl) that our Sqn sent over. Could be because it was fooking cold. I suppose the reason for picking generals was that the company only had XXXXL body armour to "evaluate"  ;D

I suppose that the generals will be allowed to "evaluate" the armour until the end of the tour, because once you start something like that, you don't want to stop it in the middle.

Al

Offline Sheep Dog AT

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Ya my CO and RSM are "evaluating" the rain gear that the Airforce currently uses.  F--K I hate double standards.
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Offline 3rd Herd

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Ya my CO and RSM are "evaluating" the rain gear that the Airforce currently uses.  F--K I hate double standards.

For you younguns a history lesson.
back in the 80's a similar set of circumstances occurred. The culprit Brit camo pattern and US issue jungle boots. Both items were highly sought after items that were not issued through formal channels. British units in Canada rotating back to the United Kingdom were to destroy cbt uniforms used in Canada. In both Wainwright and Sufflied a highly organized unoffical NATO QM system developed. Magic Pantry IRP's in sufficient quantity would get you a set of slightly used Brit camos. After the Bn CO and RSM were seen trooping the line in their 'gifts', imitation became the sincerest form of flattery. No orders were passed but it was understood by one and all that the unofficial uniform was for field use only. The only caveat in this was the bright forward thinking Recce plt CO who managed to successfully argue the lack of suitable equipment for his plt and they became standard issue to that platoon.

As for the body armour issue it has been around for a while since even Hollywood has jumped on the band wagon. In the TV series JAG there is an episode covering this exact topic, after all controversy bumps ratings. And can we not forget the 858.00 toilet seats installed on US aircraft carries. Remember in industry profit is the key word not product reliability.

Now onto the tale of the unsolved b & e of the military museum in the north section of Fort Lewis, it seems when a detachment of Cdn troops were their several museum display duce and a half's and five ton trucks were mysteriously stripped of critical parts one  dark rainy night..........................................
"if he was to be hanged for it, he told his brother, he could not accuse a man whom he believed had meant well, and whose error was one of judgment, not of intention"
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Offline Sheep Dog AT

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Our Recce guys wore the Brit smocks up until we got the Cadpat.
Still burns my *** that the above mentioned wear them while they see how much rain?
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Offline Journeyman

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Look how long the Clothe the Soldier program did "evaluations," when a quick survey of the kit in which troops were investing their own cash would have provided a very good yardstick.....like JBs or a rainsuit that would be drier on the inside than out. Some kit is gucci, but other kit is common sense.
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Offline Pte.Pinky

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I think this is MY favourite part:

Last week DefenseWatch released a secret Marine Corps report that determined that 80% of the 401 Marines killed in Iraq between April 2004 and June 2005 might have been saved if the Interceptor OTV body armor they were wearing was more effective.

My skull could protect me from concussions if it was more effective too ::)

Don't get me wrong, I (naturally) think that soldiers should be equipped with the best possible kit there is. ESPECIALLY when it comes to body armour. It really rubs me the wrong way when a soldier is forced to use sub-par equipment because some balding fatty in a business suit wants to make more money from the government :rage:

My two cents,
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Offline KevinB

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Until HP White Labs certifies the armor USSOC will not authroise it. - PERIOD.
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Offline RecceDG

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That's the part that has me wondering... I've heard a lot about Dragon Skin, but it seems like there are conflicting opinions about weither or not the stuff actually works as well as claimed.

If it didn't, it wouldn't be the first time a product built demand based on hype and percieved value, rather than actual performance.

Wouldn't the Army be remiss then if it let its soldiers use an expensive, self-purchased, and ineffective bit of kit in theatre? Doesn't the Army have a duty to ensure that its soldiers are wearing kit that does the job?

DG 
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Offline Laps

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Doesn't the same thing happen here?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2006, 12:36:55 »
In the aviation community (before I continue: I wear a beret and a cadpat jacket... so don't think of hotel et al), we often face similar problems when something is not appropriate and guys go spend $$ of their own.  There is always this threat around that if "something were to happen to you" when using non issue kits, that  you would be SOL.  For example, holsters: the Bianchi one is a piece of poo as far as I am concerned, and quite a few quys got something they prefered (whether BlackHawk, DropZone...), and then the grown ups got all excited because that holster had not been tested for "airworthiness" (as if the holster flies...  I fly, the helo flies, the holster doesn't!!!).  The same thing happens with flashlights, knifes, "go" bags, etc.  Lately, we got an important message saying that one of the Pelican flashlight has lost its "airwothiness certificate" and that we must discontinue it's usage when we fly (?!?!!?).  I say stop the BS, use common sense.  You should see the sunglasses that we are supposed to wear!!!

On parade, let's all look the same.  In the field, when bullets are coming our way, let's have whatever works.  I like the idea of giving the guy $1000 when going overseas to buy kits he/she wants.  That would solve many supply issues.

On a different note, I often doubted the quality of the bullet/frag vest that we were "issued" in Bosnia.  They were dirty, old, stored wherever, got wet...  I am sure that a well place BB could had gone thru.

Offline 48Highlander

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Thought I'd post an update:  it seems that this article is a fake.

Folks,

The muscles of the milblogosphere flex again debunking another myth. The claim was made that SOCOM and McDill AFB had issued a directive forbidding the wearing of personal body armor.
Quote
On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.

"We have to be able to move. It (Dragon Skin) is heavy, but it is made so we have mobility and the best ballistic protection out there. This is crazy. And they are threatening us with our benefits if we don't comply." he said.

The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action "could" be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.

As of this report Saturday morning the Army has not yet responded to a DefenseWatch inquiry.

I just got a message back from the SOCOM Public Affairs Office less than 4 hours after pinging them.

Quote
First, as you are probably aware, I cannot comment on and do not know what the Army or Marine Corps policies are on body armor.  I can only provide you information about Special Operations Forces.

I have talked to all of the approriate people and no one is aware of any directive that went out of USSOCOM headquarters last week that addressed the subject of body armor, much less prohibited the use of commercial body armor.  Neither is anyone familiar with any statement made about service members losing their SGLI death benefits if they are wearing commercial body armor at the time of their death.  There is no such USSOCOM policy about SGLI.
Additionally, Special Operations Forces do not use the Interceptor OTV body armor that you discussed in the DefenseWatch piece.  Special Operations Forces use the Body Armor Load Carriage System (BALCS).

This directly refutes the tale told by the truthseekers and I have informed them of that. This smelled a bit to me when I first heard about it, and it looks like another myth. If anyone hears about another Command, maybe CENTCOM, having a different policy let me know. In lieu of that, I will echo the magnificent Penn, of Penn & Teller and call "BULLS***T!"
 
Thanks to everyone who commented and emailed info. I believe Soldiers for the Truth should retract or show more than an anonymous tale and will let you know what I hear back.

Offline 0tto Destruct

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48th Highlander.

Thanks for that...damn the internets! Next thing you'll be telling us that all those lists about Chuck Norris are fake too...

BTW, did you know that Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

...I read it on the 'net...it must be true.

Offline George Wallace

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...I read it on the 'net...it must be true.
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Offline career_radio-checker

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The soldier reiterated Friday's reports that any soldier who refused to comply with the order and was subsequently killed in action "could" be denied the $400,000 death benefit provided by their SGLI life insurance policy as well as face disciplinary action.
Huh?

Soooo... they charge a dead man ???
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Offline Sheep Dog AT

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48Highlander
Am I reading this wrong or are you telling me that you are quoting a guy in the SF who says they can wear what they want?  I ask this because is quote says he knows nothing of the other branches and I thought that the soldiers in question were regular service and not Special Forces.
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Offline 48Highlander

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48Highlander
Am I reading this wrong or are you telling me that you are quoting a guy in the SF who says they can wear what they want?  I ask this because is quote says he knows nothing of the other branches and I thought that the soldiers in question were regular service and not Special Forces.

Sheesh.  Read the original article:

Quote
On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that "all" commercially available body armor was prohibited. The soldier said the order came down Friday morning from Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (HQ, USSOCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It arrived unexpectedly while his unit was preparing to deploy on combat operations. The soldier said the order was deeply disturbiing to many of the men who had used their own money to purchase Dragon Skin because it will affect both their mobility and ballistic protection.

So if the original article quotes a guy saying that USSOCOM issued the directive, and then USSOCOM says they never heard of any such directive......comprende?  Other arms may very well have those restrictions, however, the original article specificaly accused USSOCOM, and did not provide any evidence to indicate other commands were taking those steps.  So right now there's no evidence to substantiate the idea that ANY command is forbidding soldiers from wearing their own body-armour; all we have is an article which as at the very least gotten the facts wrong, and at worst has fabricated the entire thing.

Offline KevinB

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I will reiterate that USSOC currently only allows the issue SPEAR/BALCS pannel to be used in the Paraclete RAV or Eagle CIRAS.
  The SOE Gear Warhammer that a lot of 18"X" guys got from Ligthfighter may onyl be used as a Plate carrier ontop of a BALC carry system (RAV,CIRAS or the old BALCS carrier).

  Speaking to both 18 series guys and certain USASOC guys (read between the lines) the use of any non certified commerical armor is prohibted.  Guys where trying to get the Crye Armored Chasis system into use but where prohibted (and these guys have LOTS of latittude...) since it had not been HP White cert'd yet.






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Offline 0tto Destruct

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You're voting Liberal on Monday....aren't you?                                       ;D

Riiiiight....

So, pistols at dawn then, George?.... :warstory:

Offline George Wallace

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Riiiiight....

So, pistols at dawn then, George?.... :warstory:
Sorry.  Slept in.  Monday....Winner votes.... :warstory:
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Offline 48Highlander

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Sorry.  Slept in.  Monday....Winner votes.... :warstory:

You know...that's one hell of an idea for a system of government....vote by dueling :)

Offline 3rd Herd

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Found on another forum. this guy pays the price for not being alert, but his body armor worked.

A quote from the video forum post.

In reference to the posted video, unless I am mistaken, this video is a shortened clip. After the soldier is dropped, he moves around to the other side of the HMMWV, where he is checked for wounds. (This is where the video ends, but the best part of the story starts.) After being cleared, he and his group set out to find the sniper and engage them in a small firefight. In the aftermath, the original Sniper is shot, and First Aid is rendered by the original Sniper Victim. The IBA is the best piece of equipment being offerd to our fellow troops in the last 25 years.

http://www.sondrak.com/archive/skpics/CG%20briefing%20sniper%20clip.wmv

And:

Soldiers may be reimbursed for protective gear
By Maj. Paul Cucuzzella
January 13, 2006


WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 13, 2006) -- Soldiers may now file claims and receive reimbursement for protective equipment privately purchased between Sept. 11, 2001, and July 31, 2004.

A provision of the 2005 Defense Authorization Act allows for the reimbursement if service members weren’t issued equivalent equipment prior to deployment in Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

Full story at:
http://www4.army.mil/news/article.php?story=8457

« Last Edit: January 29, 2006, 17:34:16 by 3rd Herd »
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Offline Journeyman

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The debate isn't really new:

"It is my opinion that press reports of statements by high-ranking officers to the effect that we have the best equipment in the world do much to discourage the soldier who is using equipment that he knows to be inferior to that of the enemy"
- BGen JH Collier, Combat Command A, 2nd Armored Division, 1945

Mind you, the troops weren't actually buying their own Tiger tanks because their Sherman's were second rate  ;)
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Offline 3rd Herd

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Mind you, the troops weren't actually buying their own Tiger tanks because their Sherman's were second rate  ;)

See movie Kelly's Hero's staring Clint Eastwood
"if he was to be hanged for it, he told his brother, he could not accuse a man whom he believed had meant well, and whose error was one of judgment, not of intention"
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Offline Mickey

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 :rofl:

...except that Donald Sutherland bought the Tiger Tank with stolen loot.....  ;D
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