BAGHDAD ø The U.S. Army has succeeded in providing armor for all of
its combat troops in Iraq.
U.S. officials said tens of thousands of combat troops in Iraq have been
supplied with body armor over the last few months. In addition, they said,
combat and other vehicles have also been provided with armor to protect
against small-arms fire and mortars.
"We've put our soldiers in Interceptor body armor, 100 percent of them
now," U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Boles, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd
Command, said. "And we've also adapted our vehicles and gun trucks and our
soldiers have made gun truck out of their own devices and put additional
protection on, and additional ballistic armor on our vehicles to kind of
Officials said the army has armored the Humvees and other platforms in
Iraq. U.S. contractors outfitted these vehicles with armored doors and
windows while army troops reinforced the platforms with metal and sandbags, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Our own soldiers have their own skunk works, which over time they've
developed," Boles told a briefing. "They'll put sheet metal on, put sandbags
in certain places, put additional sheet metal on. And we have instances
where that's saved lives for our soldiers."
In Washington, the Defense Department awarded O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt
Armoring Co. a $13.2 million contract for the procurement of 1,500 armor
protection kits. The work will take place at the company's facility in
Fairfield, Ohio through Sept. 30, 2004.
A Pentagon statement said the award represented a sole-source contract
initiated on Jan. 21, 2004. The project will be overseen by the U.S. Army
Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, based in Warren, Mich.
"We have done a lot to upgrade our equipment in the past three or four
months with respect to armored kits on soft-skinned vehicles, with respect
to radios, and with respect to up-armored Humvees," Maj. Gen. John Batiste,
commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, said.