The committee commends the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and his office for their efforts to bring scientific rigor to the testing of combat helmets. These efforts are of critical importance to the safety and morale of the men and women of the U.S. armed services. The committee also applauds Rep. Slaughter for her active oversight in this area.
The overarching messages in this report are:
• There is an urgent need for the Department of Defense to establish a research program to develop helmet test metrics that have a clear scientific link to the modes of human injury from ballistic impact, blast, and blunt trauma.
• It is critical that test profiles for combat helmets be modified to include appropriate threats from current and emerging threats.
• The development of test protocols must be based on appropriately derived OC curves, where such curves will likely be unique to each helmet type and design, which is intentionally chosen to match current technology capability and the needs of the soldier on the battlefield. Further, it is important that the design of test plans focus on that region of the OC curve at which the helmet is expected to perform.
Throughout the course of the committee’s research and deliberations, it became quite clear that DOT&E’s and the Army’s goal is to ensure that combat helmets (and all personal protective equipment) are manufactured and tested to the highest possible standards. It is the committee’s hope that this report helps DOT&E and DoD in their continued pursuit of this goal.
DoD IG (Department of Defense Inspector General). 2009. D-2009-047. DoD Testing Requirements for Body Armor. Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense.
Gilmore, J.M. 2012. Letter from J. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, to Representative Louise M. Slaughter, July 13.
NRC (National Research Council). 2012. Phase III Report on Review of the Testing of Body Armor Materials for Use by the U.S. Army. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Slaughter, L.M. 2012. Letter from Representative Louise M. Slaughter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, June 26, 2012.