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Army responds to Dragon Skin report

The Pentagon held a briefing Monday in response to a story first aired last week by NBC News about military body armor. NBC’s report suggested an armored vest called Dragon Skin might provide better protection than the body armor the Army issues to soldiers, called Interceptor.

NBC commissioned an independent limited test in which Dragon Skin outperformed Interceptor under some conditions.

Today, the Army made public its own testing, asserting that Dragon Skin failed its tests and that Interceptor is the best armor available.

Brig. Gen. Mark Brown said Monday: "We value our soldiers very highly, and we do everything we can do to ensure that they have the finest in force protection as they go into the battle.”

As NBC reported on Dateline on Sunday, Brown says the Army tested Dragon Skin and it failed miserably. Brown says Dragon Skin failed at room temperature as well as in extreme heat and extreme cold -- environments that can parallel conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An Army briefing paper says, the vest "suffered catastrophic failure... at minus 60 Fahrenheit, and at 120 and 160 degrees." The Army claims the adhesive holding the discs together failed, causing the discs to separate.

Experts who witnessed the NBC test say the contradictory results demonstrate the Army should conduct a new round of independent testing, which the Army has resisted.

Retired four-star Army Gen. Wayne Downing -- an NBC new analyst -- observed the NBC-commissioned tests. He says, "The Interceptor Body Armor did quite well. It's just that Dragon Skin did better. What I take away from this test is it deserves a full, unbiased test by a neutral party. Because I thought it was pretty dog-gone good."

Downing was aware of Army test results at that time and has since been briefed by the Army. He says he remains convinced that the results of the NBC tests in Germany warrant full-scale independent tests.

Philip Coyle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense and chief weapons tester for the Pentagon, also observed the NBC tests and has since received a briefing on the Army's test results.

He says, "It's clear to me from the tests that I observed that Dragon Skin has got some real advantages. General Brown has said that they want the best they can get for US soldiers. If that's true, they ought to be evaluating Dragon Skin side by side with Interceptor. That's going to mean side-by-side tests, where they do the same thing to both under the same conditions -- a level playing field for both sets of contractors."

Several Democratic U.S. senators, including Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, have called for independent tests done outside the Army.

"When I say independent, I mean a body that is not invested in the current system. Independent meaning GAO or a third-party that can take a look at the present body-armor system and the Dragon Skin and make a determination as to which is better, and how much better," Webb tells NBC News

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COMMENTS

A few nights ago there was a story about working people not having a vaction for two years. It discussed employees working 10 hours a day only six days a week. I had to think to myself and say "big deal". I questions why you would do stories on working class when the typical, specifically dairy farm rarely ever gets even one day off. My parents farm a 700 acre, 70 milking dairy farm. My mother works at the school for insurance. Basicaly it is only my farther at home. A typical day at the farm, your getting up at 5/6 am and not getting in the house that evening until well into the night with the only return or break for something to eat. Often you are up late to midnight, or going out to check on a cow if she is having a calf at 3 am, etc. Also this is seven days a week, 365 days a year. So it is hard to have sympathy to those that only work only 6 days a week, only 10 hours a day. For example, my father has only been away for two nights about 5 years ago but that was to go to a cattle sale in Missouri. I recall one other night being gone and again that is where him and my mother went to field of dreams. So basically in 33 years, he is only been a gone a hand full of nights. I did all the chores/milking etc so that they could get away for at least a day/night. The only other time they may get away, is some of the fairs that we show cattle at, State Fairs, World Dairy Expo's etc. However again, some of the family memebers have to stay home to do all the work. My parents work harder than I could ever imagine anyone working and they never complain about it. So my question has to be, why does the news not report stories on the dairy farmers not getting even a day way. Furthermore, if a farmer needs to get away at all, they need to hire someone to take care of things at the farm.
Again, I am only looking to see more stories on the actaully people that work the hardest with no vacations with focus there and not only somoene not having a vacation for a couple years. I would like to see those people go for decades without any time off.
Jamie 32, Wisconsin

This is just yet another distrubing article about corruption. Very similar to the article about the missle defense system. Where and when will the corruption stop. The US military needs to support our troops with the best gear, and stories like this have to demorlize our men. I think it's time we start caring more about our soldiers, this is a serious situation in the middle east and the republicans are worried about abortion rights, lets put that on hold till more serious matters are taken care of.

It's pointless to try proving how good Dragon Skin here or on Dateline. As Brig. Gen. Mark Brown says toward the end of the press briefing I link to below, if Pinnacle has improved Dragon Skin since the last time the Army saw it, then the company is free to submit it for consideration in the current round of competition. It's that simple. This business of going to NBC and Congress is completely unnecessary, though it is good publicity.

www.pinnaclearmor.com/body-armor/dragon-skin.php

Go to the source, scroll down and review the test vids
Protect the troops by any means....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBNyOXd3ABU

a little youtube presentation that shows dragons skin failing.

I wonder if Murray Neil can do a dance and claim this test was unfair.

If there was nothing wrong with dragon skin, why did Myrray Neil switch to a high temperetaur adhesive in the middle of 2006?

It is because his armor failed FAT testing. his adhesives melted at the high temperatures. Temperatures that can be found in the Sandbox.

If there was nothing wrong with it... why did he rush to fix it?
Will he recall the other vests that have the defective adhesives? he should, since he claims to care about soldier safety.

how about this; get the troops stateside, bring "Enola Gay" out of retirement and turn the sand box into glass...I can't think of a more fitting way to end the debate over body armor. Then we can enjoy a beer with those that have served, do honor to those that have given their lives and shut up the nuts that want to destroy freedom..

Miss Myera, I am quite disturbed by this report, there is nothing that the could possibly excuse any possible reason why the Most Powerful Military in the World would take any short cut's, But, I forget that we live in a real world and no matter what people will always believe what is on the news, whether it be on the Television, on paper, or a radio station. The truth is like all Coorporations and in the United States, Cost Effectiveness is at the top of the Priorities, I am not really surprised by this at all because the Military has always done things like this, if you ask any member of the Armed Forces they will tell you that it has a lot to do with the cost and the bidding of Contracts from the makers of all of our equipment, The LOWEST bidder always wins, that is a fact, Like the Armor that we asked for in Iraq back in the begining of 2004, it never reached higher levels of the Government because it was drowned out, and our Leaders where too scared about possibly sending the wrong message back to Congress for War Funding. I know this may sound very bad, but this is the truth! The only way people in our Government will ever listen to anything anyone says in Combat is with lives that have been spent to test and field equipment I know the Dragon Skin Armor was out performing the Interceptor verst more than 2 years ago, why did have we waited so mong in just finding this information out, well because we buy the cheapest equipment that can be mass produced the fastest, I can and will till this day mourn the lives of my fellow soldiers that died in a War where we again are doomed to live the past, like David and Goliath..... we shall beat ourselves with out cockiness and with the lives of our fellow Americans. Thank you so much for your time. This has been my opinion, from my experience's in the Military.

Here's a question for all the vets and soldiers:

What kind of Body Armor does Blackwater wear?

(For those of you who don't know: http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_USA)

I'm worried about our boys in Iraq. With all the billions poured into this war, you would think the Pentagon could afford to test another set of body armor. Or isn't there a buck to be made?

After browsing these comments, it's apparent that just about no one's viewed the Army's actual response; you're all relying on MSNBC to give you the Army's side, even though it was MSNBC that supplied the misleading story in the first place. And even here, they only give you a few words. Isn't it odd that MSNBC doesn't provide a hyperlink to the press conference in which the Army responded, comprehensively, to Lisa Myers' story? Instead she and Adam Ciralsky quote various people to the effect that Dragon Skin and Interceptor should be tested under the same conditions by a third-party lab. Odd, that, because Lisa Myers should know that such test have already been done, which is why the Army knows that Dragon Skin failed--go see the Army's press conference for yourself. You'll even see a video of the test that Dragon Skin failed--conducted by an independent lab, in the presence of Pinnacle's CEO:
http://pentagontv.feedroom.com/linking/index.jsp?skin=oneclip&fr_story=9b4e7a55ede6da7fc39f8ab668b7bc6d85dfd012&rf=ev

If this link doesn't work, just go to www.pentagonchannel.mil/ and search for "body armor".

Ok, I see a LOT of CLUELESS posts here....having done two tours of Iraq and preparing for a third, I can tell you that Interceptor (with all plates) weighs MORE than 50LBS. Yes, I flipp'n said MORE. IT WEIGHS MORE THAN FIFTY POUNDS WITH ALL ACCESSORIES. GET IT?? Dragon Skin DOES NOT WEIGH MORE THAN INTERCEPTOR! GET IT?? Interceptor LIMITS MOBILITY, FAILS AFTER MULTIPLE IMPACTS (hello, insurgents do not know the meaning of SEMI AUTOMATIC...and the AK-47's first position from SAFE is AUTOMATIC). GET IT?? For those of you who are now completely lost, let me explain- semi automatic means that ONE bullet is fired each time the trigger is pulled. AUTOMATIC means that the weapon will continue to spit bullets until the trigger is released or you run out of bullets. Now, what are the odds of MULTIPLE impacts being the norm and not the exception? When you mix it up with these idiots, they figure the more bullets that they can spray at you, the better. Fundamentally, they are correct....however, accurracy plays a lot in that...the AK tends to climb A LOT after several rounds. However, since these idiots almost always (except the snipers) engage in AUTOMATIC, if a troop gets hit, it is a MULTIPLE IMPACT on the IBA 9 times out of 10. Now, the people who are clueless need to really listen up....SERIOUS BODY DAMAGE IS DONE FROM THE TRANSFER OF KINETIC ENERGY BY THE ROUND STRIKING THE PLATE. Dragon Skin DEFEATS this energy by dissapating it across numerous scales.

So, what have we learned?

1. People who are posting the HIGHLY INACCURATE info about the weight of the two pieces of armor need to don some and walk a patrol in it- I guarantee they will know the EXACT weight of it after a 3hr walk through the streets of Iraq.

2. Dragon Skin is LIGHTER.

3. Insurgents can't hit the broadside of the barn from the inside, therefore they fire their weapons in the AUTOMATIC mode and spit as many bullets out as they can in hopes that one or two may actually get close to the target. IF a troop is hit, the odds of it being a multiple impact are very good.

4. Interceptor FAILED at 5 rounds. I say again...INTERCEPTOR FAILED AT 5 ROUNDS.

5. Dragon Skin WAS NOT PENETRATED- even when they placed it over a live grenade and detonated it.

6. That full bird that was in charge of ENSURING Dragon Skin failed the Army's "tests" is now an employee of the same company that makes INTERCEPTOR.

7. Anyone that doesn't think that is a serious issue is about as sharp as a bowling ball.

But hey, don't believe me, I have only been to Iraq twice and wore this cr@p nearly everyday that I was there. I have only been on MANY patrols and operations (sneaking around in the dark and getting bad guys) How the heck would I know what I am talking about as opposed to the slob that has never been there and only knows what he/she has read or heard on the news??

Ok, let me say this to all....and listen carefully...HOW MANY OF YOU THINK WE (the US Military) CONDUCT OPERATIONS IN -60 DEGREE WEATHER?? Yes, there was an adhesive failure...the stuff froze and came apart...AT -60 DEGREES!!! Also, who in their right mind would wear any body armor that had been soaked in diesel?? Yes, they soaked it in diesel as one of their test parameters. After over 18 years in the service, I can tell you NOBODY would wear their armor after it had been soaked in diesel. The tests (from all that I have read on the internet) were specifically designed to fail Dragon Skin. Interceptor is a poor system. Did you read the article about Dragon Skin allowing 13 of 48 rounds to penetrate? HELLO!!! Try that with Interceptor. The SAPI plate would stop about 5-10 rounds before complete failure. Not only that, but the massive trauma delivered (pure kinetic energy) by those rounds to the soft tissue of the body would be enough to seriously injure or kill a Soldier. Dragon Skin works by dissipating that kinetic energy by allowing it to transfer to the discs surrounding the one that was struck AND NOT to the body that the armor is protecting. (that was so Chris Eldridge, Harrisburg could understand the basic physics of the system- Chris, bigger is far from better in this case, use your head) Someone is getting rich off of this deal or the Army is just too stubborn to admit wrong-doing. Pinnacle Armor was given a raw deal because some idiot in charge of the test couldn't understand how the armor worked and refused to continue the testing until he did (the armor constantly proved is pre-conceived notions wrong and ticked him off because he couldn't get it to fail).

Please stay on top of this story! The enemy may be here in the U.S.. Only take one top offical to put our men at risk. Let our men at risk decide what is best. Same as the anti RPG Wepon. the top officials are not at risk, ONLY THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS!!!!

dear miss myers, stay on top of this story, because I think it has to do with money..$$ka-ching$$..and also military contracts, because it seems they do not care that a child is missing a mom or a dad, all they care about is the money that they can make, off of the US citizens..I want all our guys to have the absolute best equipment, that really saves lives. And always remember the lesson from vietnam too, to never, ever underestimate your enemy, or you will be very, very sorry, and our guys will come back in caskets..I want the best equipment for all our young men and women out there, and I wish them all my best...

You're right there, Jan. Good post. The Dragon Skin might be the right direction, but it still needs improvements (I believe they reformulated the adhesive recently) before it would be ready for the troops. And NBC's report didn't mention Dragon Skin's weight, which I've heard in all reports that mention it to be 'surprising' in its weight.
There were valid questions raised in the early testing of Dragon Skin and the Army's unwillingness to take a closer look. I think we have our closer look now. I hope Pinnacle keeps working on it, as the concept of DS sure looks to have merit.

Having a little knowledge of body armor and as a former journalist, I was not happy with Lisa Myers' story. Her homework on Dragon Skin was superficial. The stuff stops most rounds fine, fired head on..but if the enemy doesn't get the memo and shoots at an angle, you have a dead GI. The stuff cannot take an angled shot. In addition, it has proven itself unstable when exposed to deisel fuel. As there's a lot of that in a modern combat theater, body armor that can't handle this substance is dicey at best. Those are the reasons why the Army ordered troops to stop wearing it. It doesn't work. There is, in fact, a very comprehensive report, written by the US Army, as to why Dragon Skin does NOT make the cut. Better armor is on the way. That better armor is not Dragon Skin.

There is an easy way to test the two vests to see which is better. Send General Mark Brown to Iraq and see which vest he puts on.

I am an honorably discharged, disabled Veteran who believes in the old saying, "You can't put a price on human life!" But I guess our Military and Government can do so once those lives are owned and packaged in fatigues. It seems soldiers are commodities in the business venture called The Iraq War. The President, slash Government, slash Military are willing to try risky plans such as the "Surge", which have only increased the number of soldier deaths. The Presidents rationale is we haven't completely implemented the number of troops to have a positive effect. If they are willing to take a chance that the "Surge" will work, then why not a chance that more soldiers will be saved by the Dragonskin body armor or the Grizzly armored personnel carrier? I first saw both of these items on a show called Future Weapons, and now with the Dateline investigations, it appears these products are credible and a necessity. While there is an issue with cost and manufacturing/production of new, superior equipment, the end result is priceless, lives!
Some of my ideas include the manufacturers reduce the profit margin on these products and the Government provide sizable tax credits to these companies once the war is over. Instead of giving huge contracts to worthless Corporations like Haliburton, who are setting up shop in Dubai (can it smell any fishier), and have politicians in their back pockets, give it to people with a purpose. Since gas prices are so high and car sales are down, have the "Big Three" auto builders change their production lines to war machines? Instead of spending billions of dollars to send space craft to Mars, how about we spend that money on things that matter here on good old Earth, like our fellow human beings. I know these sound ludicrous and very improbable, but isn't this war? As a country, we need to change course. We need to sacrifice our creature comforts, and put this war on the front page of every newspaper, every channel, every day. We need to live, eat and breathe this war. Either put up or shut up, and get our soldiers out of this. Give them everything and anything they need to gain the upper hand. Stop the Washington bureaucratic bull, and the Party power trips. Right now I think most Americans could care less who is running for President in '08. The concern is with who is jackin' up things right now. The Democrats have failed us losing what little backbone they started to grow, and the good ol' boy GOP's are par for the course for bringing us as a Nation to our knees. I hope that our leaders have an intervention or revelation and realize they have chosen an ill-fated path. One last thing, I think that our President should personally go visit every single Mother and Father of the 3455 soldiers killed to date. That should keep it real for him and busy until the end of his term. My deepest condolences to those families and hope for an expeditious end to this fight.

I am an honorably discharged, disabled Veteran who believes in the old saying, "You can't put a price on human life!" But I guess our Military and Government can do so once those lives are owned and packaged in fatigues. It seems soldiers are commodities in the business venture called The Iraq War. The President, slash Government, slash Military are willing to try risky plans such as the "Surge", which have only increased the number of soldier deaths. The Presidents rationale is we haven't completely implemented the number of troops to have a positive effect. If they are willing to take a chance that the "Surge" will work, then why not a chance that more soldiers will be saved by the Dragonskin body armor or the Grizzly armored personnel carrier? I first saw both of these items on a show called Future Weapons, and now with the Dateline investigations, it appears these products are credible and a necessity. While there is an issue with cost and manufacturing/production of new, superior equipment, the end result is priceless, lives!
Some of my ideas include the manufacturers reduce the profit margin on these products and the Government provide sizable tax credits to these companies once the war is over. Instead of giving huge contracts to worthless Corporations like Haliburton, who are setting up shop in Dubai (can it smell any fishier), and have politicians in their back pockets, give it to people with a purpose. Since gas prices are so high and car sales are down, have the "Big Three" auto builders change their production lines to war machines? Instead of spending billions of dollars to send space craft to Mars, how about we spend that money on things that matter here on good old Earth, like our fellow human beings. I know these sound ludicrous and very improbable, but isn't this war? As a country, we need to change course. We need to sacrifice our creature comforts, and put this war on the front page of every newspaper, every channel, every day. We need to live, eat and breathe this war. Either put up or shut up, and get our soldiers out of this. Give them everything and anything they need to gain the upper hand. Stop the Washington bureaucratic bull, and the Party power trips. Right now I think most Americans could care less who is running for President in '08. The concern is with who is jackin' up things right now. The Democrats have failed us losing what little backbone they started to grow, and the good ol' boy GOP's are par for the course for bringing us as a Nation to our knees. I hope that our leaders have an intervention or revelation and realize they have chosen an ill-fated path. One last thing, I think that our President should personally go visit every single Mother and Father of the 3455 soldiers killed to date. That should keep it real for him and busy until the end of his term. My deepest condolences to those families and hope for an expeditious end to this fight.

It's obvious to me, and i'm sure to anyone else out there who has ever been in the military....it's all about the lowest bidder.
I served in Desert Storm & in Afghanistan, and i NEVER got the priveledge to wear the Dragon Skin, but if i had the choice, i would've DEFFINETELY wore the Dragon Skin jacket!
The military has always gone with the cheapest route on EVERYTHING!, so i think it is imparitive to test the jackets under supervision of the military as well as having DATELINE MSNBC there to witness the test, and give the public the TRUE ANSWER!!

Please, on this Memorial Day 2007, let us all demand of our congress members that our service people are protected to the very best of our ability. I was lucky. My son came back from the sandbox. Eleven of his brave Platoon did not. Please write to your congress members to protect our children so they can come home once they have paid the price for the rest of us by serving. Please keep the other family members in your thoughts.

not to take away from body armor and the like, but if the army so values its troops, then why are parents of troops still sending there kids (in the war zone)body armor that they personnally bought with there own money...somewhere during this war the military and the government failed badly in protecting our troops....

Jennifer F,
The Army had a major hand in the design of the Interceptor vests. Many believe that is yet another reason they won't test the vests side by side.

IMPORTANT TECH NOTE: The Pinnacle Armor SOV-3000 (Dragon Skin) does NOT, I repeat does NOT weigh 47 pounds. The front and back ballistics (full torso coverage) and outer cover (which holds the Dragon Skins and has the MOLLE webbing on the outside) weighs about as much as the Interceptor Body Armor. The 47 pounds is someone else's misreadings, or misinformation. SpecWar and SpecForces, or any operator wouldn't even try to wear a 47 pound vest for any reason. There are no absolutes in war, so don't count on any projectile at any velocity coming straight on (right angle) to ANY vest (the ideal stopping angle). The weight of the SOV-3000 Dragon Skin vest is more evenly distributed around the operator because of its form fitting flexibility and gives the operator more mobility. Going back to the weight issue, because it does NOT weigh 47 pounds and it is actually around 20 pounds, you are again more mobile. 'Just ask the CIA operator and also operator who worked for Triple Canopy. 'Both were shot multiple times with 7.62 X 39 MM Soviet era rounds (steel core) while wearing Dragon Skins. 'Both live to tell the tale. Now about that "all army safety message." It only applies to army personnel (it may also apply to other service personnel who are assigned to an army unit, but their parent branch does not impose the SGLI revocation for not utilizing Interceptor Body Armor). What that means is that the operators/end users in the Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force do have the option of using Dragon Skins or some other armor that meets or exceeds Mil-Standards. 'So, for the ladies and gentlemen who want to donate or buy Dragon Skins SOV-3000 for personnel who are, or about to go down range into the sand box (Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa) or the extremist filled jungles of Asia (yes, we are still dealing with terrorist there, i.e.; Philippines, Indonesia, the pores borders of Thailand), please do so. We do need it. Many units do have quarterly and annual budget limitations and they do buy the cheapest thing out there so long as it meets Mil-Std and troops still have to "hot-swap" body armor when they get down range. Thanks to the American Public for supporting us in our missions. Very Respectfully, Operator "J"

The SAPI plates are made out of boron carbide ceramic. No titanium that I know of.

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