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Pentagon replacing body armor…again

I guess it’s a roll of the dice as to whether a relative serving over in Iraq has body armor that’s actually going to protect them.

For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is replacing body armor for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, citing a need for better protection that can withstand the strongest of attacks from insurgents, a spokesman said Saturday.

The effort, which began more than a year ago, would upgrade the protection used by more than 500,000 soldiers as well as civilian employees and news reporters. The first upgrade installed ceramic protective plates in the vests and was completed in early 2004.

Defense officials acknowledge the replacement processes have been slowed in part by debates over what is best for the troops. The current replacement is expected to take several more months to complete, said an Army official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of information affecting troop safety.


A US military vehicle burns after being struck by a roadside bomb, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2005, in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, Iraq. A roadside bomb set a U.S. armored troop carrier on fire in Baghdad’s Sadr City district. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Iraqi insurgents have doubled the number of roadside bomb attacks on U.S. supply convoys over the past year, the U.S. general in charge of logistical support in Iraq said Friday.

Meanwhile, at least 34 National Guard and Reserve troops were killed in the first 10 days of August, according to Pentagon figures, making it one of the worst periods of casualties for part-time troops since the war began more than two years ago.

Brig. Gen. Yves J. Fontaine, commander of the U.S. 1st Corps Support Command, said insurgents are mounting about 30 improvised explosive device attacks a week on U.S. supply convoys from Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey.

“It’s about a hundred percent increase from last year,” Fontaine said, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon by videoconference, from Balad air base, north of Baghdad.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding