Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that the National Research Council (NRC) will perform an independent assessment of the Army’s body armor testing, following last month’s recommendation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for an independent review. The NRC functions under the auspices of the National Academies, a private, nonprofit institution that provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and the public on critical national issues.
“We are committed to providing our warfighters with world-class equipment, and are confident that our body armor continues to defeat the threat to our soldiers,” McHugh said. “The Army welcomes this independent review, and is grateful for the analysis and expertise of the National Research Council.”
“I appreciated the opportunity to discuss this initiative with Dr. Gilmore, the Department of Defense’s director of operational test and evaluation, prior to its completion,” McHugh continued. “As I said at the time, I fully endorse this analysis and pledge the Army will render its total cooperation.”
Under an agreement between the National Academies and the director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), the Department of Defense’s final independent authority on survivability testing of body armor, the NRC will perform an independent assessment of ongoing body armor testing. The purpose of the NRC assessment is to ensure that the Army maintains the highest standards for testing processes and protocols, thus addressing concerns raised by the GAO about current testing procedures.
“The continued partnership with DOT&E, the NRC, and the GAO will ensure the complete, accurate, and careful testing of body armor critical to ensuring soldiers’ confidence in their equipment,” McHugh said. “The Army is constantly refining and improving its testing processes and procedures, and we welcome additional expertise to help ensure that we continue to field the best body armor available.”
Within the Army, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the army (acquisition, logistics and technology) has recently assigned a quality, process, and compliance executive who is responsible for oversight of process compliance across the acquisition community, and who is directly accountable to the Army acquisition executive. The highest priority for the compliance executive is the ongoing body armor ballistic testing by being conducted by the Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.