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.
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."
After a year and a half since the Army took delivery on the first of its souped-up new version of the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Pentagon's Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio is ramping up to deliver the service's first full brigade of upgraded warhorses to bring the pain downrange.
On Tuesday, two political veterans groups, one on the left, the other on the right, announced a new lobbying campaign aimed at ending America's 'forever wars.'
In a video tied to the announcement, Dan Caldwell, the senior adviser to Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative veterans' group, and Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets, a liberal vets group which aims to get former service members into office, laid out their plan for a lobbying campaign aimed at changing policy on how the United States wages war.