So what do you think?
I caught a few things that concerned me. First of all, the Dragon Skin was clearly tested on a flat clay backing rather than a curved one while the ESAPI was tested on a curved backing. PEO Soldier officials were adamant that the Dragon Skin be tested on a curved backing, and noted that Murray Neal objected.
The reason, they said, is that when flat, DS provides maximum overlap of the disks. When the armor is placed over a curved surface like a soldiers chest the disks separate more. That creates some gaps (see page 10, before testing shot just below neck line).
Second of all, I covered Phil Coyle when he was Director of the Operational Test and Evaluation office at the Pentagon back in the late 1990s. He has been very critical of programs in the past for any hint of lapses in operational effectiveness or operational suitability. The DS, at this point, clearly fails in the suitability category because of its weight. There seems to have been no mention whatsoever of the Dragon Skins crushing weight in the NBC piece.
I picked up one of the SOV3000 vests in XL at PEO Soldier and another one at MarCorpsSysCom a couple weeks ago (it clearly appeared that would be the size that fit me best, though I wear a Large Interceptor) and it was staggering how heavy it was. I was blown away.
Why did NBC and even more important, Phil Coyle, not pick up on this obvious problem? During the show, all we see are technicians handling pieces of the armor, not the whole vest. If they had been, viewers would see that most people cant pick the vest up by the haul loop with one hand.
Lastly in my major critique category is that NBC producers totally ignored the data from the thorough brief they were given by PEO Soldier. They relied on a sit-down interview with BGEN. Mark Brown and one gotcha moment when Brown admitted he didnt know the basis for the SOUM banning DS back in April 2006.
Fact is and I saw the results only a few weeks after the SOUM was released (ironically, my source was a Marine) a DS panel was tested in May 2004, before the ESAPI requirement, and failed because earlier iterations used wire to secure the disks rather than adhesive. After the first shot the wire failed and the disks slipped.
So why did NBC ignore the x-ray data from the PEO soldier brief? What would the publics reaction have been if theyd seen the interviews and tests then the x-ray photos showing the disks bunched together like a roll of nickels? A few scratched heads, Im sure.
This story is not going away. Well keep on top of it as it develops, so please stay engaged.
Another really good write up on the issue can be found HERE.