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Navy Bans Private Body Armor
Stars and Stripes  |  By Jeff Schogol  |  June 14, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has banned sailors from wearing personally purchased body armor and other protective equipment instead of standard-issue gear.

However, commanders may authorize sailors in their command to use commercially purchased protective gear, “As long as additions do not replace or interfere with the functionality of approved PPE (Personal Protective Equipment),” according to a recent Navywide administrative message.

The Marine Corps issued a similar message in April.

“The new policy ensures that operating forces are wearing the best available personal protective gear,” an April 27 news release from Marine Corps Systems Command says.

Related Article: Dragon Skin Backers Hammered on Hill

Like the Navy, the Marine Corps allows commanders to approve the use of commercially purchased protective gear under certain circumstances.

“Commanders are offered flexibility to make tactical decisions on the use and wear of approved Body Armor based on enemy threat, environmental conditions and assigned tactical missions,” the news release says.

The Army was first to ban personally purchased protective gear in March 2006.

The move came in response to the fact that soldiers may have been wearing Dragon Skin body armor, which has been marketed as superior to the Interceptor Body Armor issued to soldiers, Army Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson III said in prepared remarks to Congress last week.

Thompson was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee after NBC reported that Dragon Skin performed better than standard-issue body armor during independent ballistic tests.

Thompson said that Dragon Skin has failed numerous ballistic tests; most notably, the vests failed to stop 13 of 48 shots fired during ballistic tests run by the Army last May.

Army and Air Force officials also told lawmakers that Dragon Skin maker Pinnacle Armor falsely claimed that the National Institute of Justice had certified the body armor as providing a certain level of ballistic protection.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations ended up canceling its contract with Pinnacle Armor for Dragon Skin vests after tests proved that the vests did not meet the National Institute of Justice Certification standard, AFOSI Executive Director Douglas D. Thomas said in prepared remarks last week before the same committee

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