Thursday, January 29, 2009

Suicides, electrical shocks, deficient body armor plague U.S. troops


GI Suicides in 2008 Highest on Record

The Army is expected to release a report later today revealing the highest number of suicides among troops in nearly three decades, according to CNN.

The network reported this morning that the Army will confirm 128 suicides in 2008, along with 15 suspected suicides currently under investigation among active-duty Soldiers and activated National Guard and Army Reserve troops. The Army also will announce a study of Soldier suicides and links to post-combat stress, CNN says.



Army Report Notes 231 Shock Incidents

U.S. troops in Iraq suffered electrical shocks about every three days in a two-year period surrounding the electrocution death of a Green Beret sergeant, according to an internal Defense Contract Management Agency report obtained by the Tribune-Review.

The 45-page document -- a high-level request for corrective action generated last fall -- found that Texas-based military contractor KBR Inc. failed to properly ground and bond its electrical systems, which contributed to Soldiers "receiving shocks in KBR-maintained facilities on average once every three days since data was available in Sept. 2006."

The agency determined that KBR "failed to meet basic requirements to identify life-threatening conditions on tanks, water pumps, electrical outlets and electrical panels."

The report adds that government search results of a KBR-maintained database revealed that 231 electrical-shock incidents occurred in the period from September 2006 through July 31, 2008 -- indicating that the activity continued long after the death of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, who suffered cardiac arrest after stepping into his Baghdad shower on Jan. 2, 2008.

Records show Maseth was electrocuted when he turned on the water that flowed through metal pipes. The Army Criminal Investigation Division recently determined Maseth's death was negligent homicide, rather than an accident as previously reported.



Body Armor Recalled by Army

WASHINGTON - Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered the recall of more than 16,000 sets of body armor following an audit that concluded the bullet-blocking plates in the vests failed testing and may not provide Soldiers with adequate protection.

The audit by the office of the Defense Department  inspector general, not yet made public but obtained by The Associated Press, faults the Army for flawed testing procedures before awarding a contract for the armor.

In a letter dated Jan. 27 to Acting Inspector General Gordon Heddell, Geren said he did not agree that the plates failed the testing or that Soldiers were issued deficient gear. He said his opinion was backed by the Pentagon’s top testing director.

Despite his insistence that the armor was not deficient, Geren said he was recalling the sets as a precaution.

Geren also said he's asked for a senior Pentagon official to resolve the disagreement between the Army and the inspector general's office.


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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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