The mother of a Marine called Army Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller Monday morning to ask why the Army wouldn't provide her son with Dragon Skin body armor.
She "knew" it was better than the equipment provided by the Army and Marines so she bought it for her son out of her own pocket.
Fuller was straight with her: "Guess what. Dragonskin doesn't work."
This and other calls led him to tell me he had one message for the troops and their parents: Don't Buy Dragon Skin. PEO Soldier has tested Dragon Skin and it just doesn't stop bullets, he said. The problem is simple. "Somewhere out there is the perception that we are holding something back, that we have something hidden out back. No. We are providing them with the very best," Fuller said.
Body armor, what Fuller calls the third rail of Army equipment for its political sensitivity, isn't subject to the usual Pentagon processes since every parent watches what their son or daughter wears and has an opinion about how effective the armor is.
In addition to the testing that went into the current generation of body armor, PEO Soldier is in the early stages of developing the next generation of body armor -- X-SAPI. The main plate will probably weigh about 12 pounds. The weight of the side inserts isn't known yet.
Fuller said the current armor is more than adequate but the Army wants to get ahead of the threat curve and so is working on the new armor.
For those who may not remember, there has been ample discussion about whether the current Interceptor armor is as good as the Army claims. The DoD Inspector General issued a report in late January questioning some of the testing performed on the armor. Although the Army and the Operational Test and Evaluation folks disagree with the IG's findings, the service recalled 16,000 sets of body armor.