USA — Recalled Helmets No ‘Direct Risk’ to Soldiers

WASHINGTON — The Army recall of 44,000 Advanced Com­bat Hel­mets that were issued to sol­diers in Iraq and Afghanistan is the result of a Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion as well as inde­pen­dent tests that show the hel­mets do not meet Army stan­dards, mil­i­tary offi­cials said today.

Army offi­cials say the recalled hel­mets are not a “direct risk” to sol­diers.

Army Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller told reporters today that while the hel­mets failed to meet Army stan­dards, there is no evi­dence that any sol­dier was ever harmed from their use. The recalled hel­mets pro­vid­ed a safe degree of pro­tec­tion, Fuller said, but they were “just not up to our stan­dards.” The Army, he said, is with­draw­ing the hel­mets from the field.

Fuller heads up Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office-Sol­dier, a Fort Belvoir, Va.,-based orga­ni­za­tion that over­sees the devel­op­ment and test­ing of Army equip­ment.

The recall involves about 4 per­cent of about 1.6 mil­lion Advanced Com­bat Hel­mets that are in the Army’s inven­to­ry, PEO-Sol­dier offi­cials said.

Fuller said the Army issued a May 13 direc­tive to com­bat­ant com­man­ders in Iraq and Afghanistan call­ing for the imme­di­ate turn-in of hel­mets man­u­fac­tured by Armor­Source, the con­trac­tor.

The recall, Fuller explained, is the result of a Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion, and indi­vid­ual tests con­duct­ed at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, Md., which proved the hel­met did not meet Army stan­dards. The gen­er­al said he could not elab­o­rate on the DOJ find­ings because of the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion.

“Our num­ber-one mis­sion is to ensure every soldier’s lethal sur­viv­abil­i­ty equip­ment can sur­vive in any envi­ron­ment, and a hel­met is a per­son­al piece of equip­ment that pro­vides that sur­viv­abil­i­ty,” Fuller said. “We want to make sure they nev­er have any ques­tion as to whether or not this will be able to stop what it needs to stop.”

Fuller said the Army began the recall process imme­di­ate­ly upon noti­fi­ca­tion of the DOJ inves­ti­ga­tion and after the results of inde­pen­dent test­ing revealed flaws in the bal­lis­tic capa­bil­i­ty of the hel­met. In Jan­u­ary, the Army was noti­fied by the DOJ of the inves­ti­ga­tion after the paint on some hel­mets began peel­ing. The hel­mets were then sub­ject­ed to fur­ther tests by the Army, which deter­mined the bal­lis­tic defect.

The recall notice was issued as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, Fuller said.

So far, none of the recalled hel­mets have been found at the Bagram Air­field Cen­tral Issue Facil­i­ty, the main sup­ply hub for troops deployed in Afghanistan, PEO-Sol­dier offi­cials said.

Mike Brown, the direc­tor of sup­ply for Army logis­tics, said hel­met inspec­tions are cur­rent­ly under­way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recalled hel­mets are being turned in, he said.

Army Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Bernard C. McPher­son, the PEO-Sol­dier senior enlist­ed advi­sor, said the Army is work­ing at every lev­el to ensure all affect­ed hel­mets are account­ed for.

“Hel­mets in the field will be detect­ed dur­ing pre-com­bat checks and inspec­tions by sergeants and [oth­er] lead­ers,” McPher­son said.

Army Col. William Cole, the project man­ag­er for Sol­dier Pro­tec­tion and Indi­vid­ual Equip­ment, said Armor­Source had man­u­fac­tured rough­ly 102,000 of the Advanced Com­bat Hel­mets. Of that num­ber, he said, 55,000 hel­mets remain in the ware­house sup­ply sys­tem, with about 3,000 hav­ing been issued to oth­er ser­vices through the Defense Sup­ply Cen­ter, Philadel­phia.

The Army is com­mit­ted to find­ing and obtain­ing all of the defec­tive hel­mets, Cole said. “That’s why we are doing this through dili­gence, right now, to find them,” he said.

The Army has three oth­er hel­met man­u­fac­tur­ers. They are: MSA North Amer­i­ca, BAE Sys­tems, and Gen­tex Corp.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)