Judge Orders Pentagon to Release Records of Soldiers Killed while Wearing Body Armor

Friday, April 05, 2013
(photo: U.S. ArmY)

The Department of Defense has been ordered by a federal judge to release information on American soldiers killed last decade while wearing body armor.


Retired Marine Corps Captain Roger Charles, vice chair and secretary of Soldiers for the Truth Foundation, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in October 2008 to determine if U.S. troops were provided inadequate body armor.


Charles specifically sought records on bullet wounds sustained by soldiers equipped with armor who died in Iraq and Afghanistan between January 2006 and December 2007.


As of January 2009 the institute had failed to turn over the data or even say when they would, resulting in Charles suing the government. In doing so, he claimed that soldiers were “being sent into harm’s way with substandard ballistic protection from small arms fire,” and that more than 16,000 sets of body armor had been recalled by the Pentagon.


Charles also charged that the Pentagon intentionally withheld from his request 103 autopsy files and 18 body armor description sheets, which had been identified through cited FOIA exemptions.


U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts ruled (pdf) that the Pentagon failed to demonstrate that Charles’ request for records would “shock” troops’ families. He also ordered the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner to release 89 records to the plaintiff.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Military Must Release Bullet-Wound Records (by Rose Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service)

Memorandum Opinion and Order: Roger G. Charles v. Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, et al (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) (pdf)

Army Accused of Failing to Properly Test 5 Million Pieces of Body Armor (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Combat Body Armor Saves Lives…but Leads to Long-Term Injuries (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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