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Body Armor Collected For Troops Sits In Storage

Sigh. The story about the starving Iraq police dogs was bad enough, but this one is distressingly bad. Can our government be any more incompetent or uncaring about our under-armored troops? Old armor is better than NOTHING, until they can get what they need. (WESH):

One of the big complaints from troops in Iraq is lack of armor for their vehicles, but a campaign to collect armor in Central Florida was apparently a wasted effort.

Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean and other sheriffs around the state of Florida started gathering old bullet-proof vests last February to send to American troops, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

The vests were meant to provide yet another layer of armor for Humvees and other vehicles vulnerable to roadside explosions. NewsChannel 2 has learned those vests are still sitting in storage in Ocala, and they may never be used by the military.

Sgt. Fred Chisholm said he is glad to be back on the job as a sheriff’s patrol deputy. A year ago, he was a sergeant in the Army Reserves serving as a military policeman with others from the 351st military police company in some of the hottest spots in and around Baghdad.

“I was just trying to take care of the troops and make sure everybody got home in one piece,” he said.

The motivation to protect his troops started a firestorm of controversy when he sent a simple e-mail he sent his boss — the sheriff — asking for help protecting his troops.

“First Sgt. Fred Chisholm e-mailed me and said, ‘Sheriff, if you can help me get these vests, my men can use them,'” Dean said.

So, Dean helped collect 1,400 old bullet-proof vests from other sheriffs around the state. They intended to use the vests to help further armor the troops’ Humvees and other vehicles. The only trouble was that the vests, though still useful, were old and they were well past their guaranteed lifetime.

“It’s not to be used as a ballistic vest. They already have those. That’s never been the question. It’s this interim before they have the up-armored equipment. Why can’t we, as Americans, say, ‘We’ve got war material, let’s get it to our boys?‘” Dean said.

But instead of using them, the vests still sit in storage at the 351st headquarters in Ocala, and troops in Iraq, who are still pleading for more armor to protect them, have never seen the vests.

Several people who serve in the Reserves told NewsChannel 2 that the Pentagon now says they won’t send the vests at all, even for training, because the vests are past the date the maker has guaranteed them and the Army is worried about liability if someone got hurt.

Thanks to House Blend reader Paul for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding