AP reports that one-quarter of U.S. troops in Iraq do not have the militarys best body armor. This armor, which contains ceramic plate inserts, is desiged to withstand a hit from high powered rifles such as the AK-47s commonly used by Iraqi combatants. The government is blaming the lack of body armor on funding, production, and shipping delays.
In the meantime, however, families of servicemen are picking up the slack. Despite the $1500 price tag, many relatives of servicemen are sending body armor to kin in Iraq. I understand that this is not unusual. A friend related to me a story at dinner this past weekend of a Marine he knows. The soldier said that it was commonplace for Marines to purchase much of their own gear, because they can get better goods on the open market than that which the government provides.