Sunday, January 08, 2006

Most Marines killed in Iraq could have been saved by body armor- report

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (AFP ) - A secret Pentagon study found that as many as 80 percent of Marines killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor, The New York Times reported Saturday.

"Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection," the Times reported citing unnamed military officials.

"For the first time, the study by the military's medical examiner shows the cost in lives from inadequate armor, even as the Pentagon continues to publicly defend its protection of the troops," the report said.

The United States has "maintained that it is impossible to shield forces from the increasingly powerful improvised explosive devices used by insurgents in Iraq. Yet the Pentagon's own study reveals the equally lethal threat of bullets," the report stressed.

"Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds," the report added.

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