Hunter Opening Statement for Hearing on Department of Defense Body Armor Programs

Jun 5, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988

Washington D.C. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican Duncan Hunter (R-CA) today released the following opening statement from the committee’s hearing on the Department of Defense’s body armor programs, including the Army’s decision to ban the use of Dragon Skin body armor:

“First, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to thank you for having this important hearing.  As everyone in this room knows, this committee has a long tradition of focusing on those issues that most impact our brave men and women in uniform.  And I think everyone would agree with me that anything to do with force protection will always be our top priority. 

“The Army has stated in previous briefings that a certified, independent United States lab has rigorously tested Pinnacle’s Dragon Skin armor and it failed.  And according to the Army, the test procedures and protocols that were applied to Dragon Skin were the same test procedures and protocols that were applied to every other vendor.  Mind you, these test procedures and protocols are designed to simulate the environmental conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“For example, you have to know and be confident that body armor will stop a bullet in 125-degree heat.  And to date, it is my understanding that six vendors have passed this testing and are certified to produce the Army’s ESAPI plates.

“Recently, an NBC Evening News segment implied to the mothers and fathers of America that U.S officials are not doing everything they can to give their son’s and daughters the best possible body armor.  Let me stop for a moment and stress a few points.  Many members on this committee have family and friends who have served and continue to serve in theater.  My son served two tours in al-Anbar Province and just deployed to Afghanistan.  One-third of the general officers in the United States Army have either a son or a daughter who has served or is serving in theater. 

“My point Mr. Chairman is that we have a responsibility to all of these brave men and women and their families.  We must ensure they have the best equipment and provide all Americans—especially the families of our service members—the peace-of-mind that our brave warfighters do have the best equipment.  I have continually invited U.S. service members and their families to call my office if they do not have adequate body armor.

“NBC and the Army cannot both be correct.  If there is better body armor out there, then let’s get it properly tested, bought, and sent to our sons and daughters who are serving in harm’s way on a daily basis.  That is our ultimate responsibility as Members of Congress.”