A Contractor Knowingly Sold US Troops Defective Earplugs For Years. Now They're Paying For It

Bullet Points

A defense contractor has agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle claims that it furnished U.S. service members with earplugs that it knew were defective, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. The settlement suggests that pure greed may be partly to blame for the military's "silent epidemic" of hearing loss.


  • The Minnesota-based 3M Company and its predecessor company Aearo Technologies sold dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) to the Department of Defense, despite allegedly knowing that the plugs were "too short for proper insertion into users’ ears and that the earplugs could loosen imperceptibly," according to the DoJ statement. The defects effectively rendered the earplugs useless.
  • According to Stars and Stripes, the Combat Arms Earplugs were fielded to thousands of service members who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2015, the same year a VA study concluded that more than 1 million veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, while 1.6 million were being compensated for tinnitus.
  • "Today's settlement will ensure that those who do business with the government know that their actions will not go unnoticed," Frank Robey, the head of the Major Procurement Fraud Unit at the Army's Criminal Investigative Command, said in a statement. "Properly made safety equipment, for use by our Soldiers, is vital to our military's readiness. Our agents will respond robustly to protect the safety of our military."
  • As of 2017, the Army was working to develop and field the upgraded Tactical Communications and Protective System (TCAPS)  wearable earplugs that would allow soldiers to communicate over radio while also shielding their ears against the din of weapons fire and military vehicles.

In the meantime, merely training with standard-issue weaponry can result in traumatic brain injury, which can sometimes lead to hearing loss. Unfortunately, there's no protection for that.

WATCH NEXT:

U.S. Air Force/Alejandro Peña

U.S. military advisors could be taking a self-driving pack mule back to Afghanistan with them on their next deployment.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army/Chavaughn Washington

Over 300 soldiers were found to have enlisted after either failing a required fitness test, or never taking it at all, according to documents obtained by Army Times.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON — The presidential helicopter isn't supposed to leave scorch marks on the White House lawn. So the Navy and Lockheed Martin Corp. are working to fix a "high risk" problem after the new Marine One did just that in a test without the president on board.

Read More Show Less

You have probably seen plenty of friends posting pictures of themselves as elderly folks on Facebook, courtesy of the viral app called FaceApp. Perhaps you've even given it a try yourself.

But what would happen to your military chain of command board if everyone from the President to the Defense Secretary got the same treatment? Well, you're in luck my friend, because we decided to find out.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A new Marine Corps anti-drone system that attaches to all-terrain vehicles and can scan the skies for enemy aircraft from aboard Navy ships was responsible for destroying an Iranian drone, Military.com has learned.

Read More Show Less