Pinnacle Armor Responds to U.S. Army SOUM and Gen. Sorenson

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by David Crane
defrev at

On April 5, 2006, DefenseReview published the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense news transcript (Unclassified) of Major General Jeffrey Sorenson’s News Briefing on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin body Armor and the Safety of Use Message (SOUM) relating to it. In his news briefing Mr. Sorenson made a brief statement, and then took questions from the press (Q&A).

Well, DefenseReview has received a detailed response from Murray Neal, CEO of Pinnacle Armor, which directly addresses the the SOUM and Mr. Sorenson’s news briefing. And now, we’re publishing it here for you:…

Response from Murray Neal, CEO, Pinnacle Armor, Inc.:

"After reading the US Army’s latest Safety of Use Message (SOUM) dealing with the effectiveness of Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin body armor, and viewing the Army’s press brief by Major General Sorenson, I wish to respond to the assertions, allegations and innuendo. It is our belief that your criticism of Dragon Skin is simply wrong and unwarranted.

Despite all the testing of Dragon Skin armor systems by numerous Federal, State, Local, D.o.D. and other Federal agencies, – including the Army’s own Army Research Lab, as well as a D.o.D. approved ballistic test facility, the Army still refuses to accept the fact that our Level 3 and the new level 4 Dragon Skin body armor – researched, designed and produced by an individual entrepreneur – is years ahead of the currently issued SAPI/Interceptor rigid plate system.

Dragon Skin exceeds in nine areas of performance and capabilities: flexibility with increased mobility, lower system weight, durability, greater torso coverage, less trauma to the body, better edge-hit capability, increased multiple/repeat hit capability, increased projectile diversity resistance, and ergonomic design. Dragon Skin capabilities have been proven to be significant improvements over the current Army issue.

Developed in 1996, we have provided full torso coverage Dragon Skin armor numerous times to deployed personnel. They purchased Dragon Skin armor with their own money after their first deployment. We hear and read reports that troops are complaining that the currently issued rigid armor is too heavy, too cumbersome, does not fit well and seriously restricts movement. And these reports are from troops who have been in-theater wearing it, and this latest iteration has been out less than three months!

We have received many e-mails from soldiers wearing Dragon Skin telling us they feel more comfortable and have better mobility, together with full torso coverage, and for approximately the same weight as the currently issued system with the new side plates; also without the lower back pain resulting from rigid plates. Proper design adds flexibility with greater mobility and coverage, without inhibiting daily performance.

Government offers exist for assistance up to $1,100.00 to soldiers that buy body armor (How does this agree with the newest and latest BAN ON ALL NOT-ISSUED armor?). Yet when they do buy something that is proven to be superior to the currently issued armor they are threatened with loss of their death benefits, told to not wear it, and to turn it in to PEO. These soldiers purchased this armor themselves, it belongs to them, not the Army.

While the Army is moving to equip its personnel with level 4 body armor, over 90% of the SAPI/Interceptor systems fielded today is level 3. The currently offered level 3 Dragon Skin body armor system has been proven on the battlefield in combat.

Our new level 4 Dragon Skin system just entering production will be as comparably advanced over the ESAPI program as over the current issued armor. We have also been able to defeat the “new emerging threat” categories; threats which, to date, the Army has not been able to defeat.

The Army says they look forward to testing Dragon Skin body armor to validate the “claims” of superior performance made by Pinnacle Armor. The Army, SOUM, states, “The Army has been unable to determine the veracity of these claims”. I would like to know why – after 9 years of receiving ballistic data, both unclassified and classified, and actually witnessing several shoots at ARL, plus testimonials from battlefield survivors – that such evidence does not constitute validation. One only has to see the witnessed video shoots that were conducted showing Dragon Skin armor taking over 40 rounds of indigenous military ball ammunition from an AK-47 at 20 feet and then another 150 rounds of 9mm from 10 feet from a sub-machine gun – on top of the first impacted points – WITHOUT ANY FAILURE, to see that Dragon Skin is far superior to the current system in use by the Army.

The Army says it does not have enough information on Dragon Skin. Also, they say they helped fund its development. These statements are completely false. In 1996 we were commercially manufacturing and selling Dragon Skin body armor. Never has the Army been involved with the development of Dragon Skin body armor. We currently hold five issued patents on this technology with numerous others pending. It was patent pending before we showed it to Natick and ARL. We know Natick has tried to circumvent our patents, without success. When we first presented our armor to Natick and ARL we were told they had both spent 4-5 years and approximately 18-20 million dollars trying to develop a body armor system that could meet the flexibility and mobility requirements of the battlefield. To date, they haven’t succeeded.

I think it is a travesty that men and women who continue to protect the freedoms and values that we have and enjoy are treated so shabbily – preventing them from owning and wearing the best body armor that technology can offer. We have all seen the Pathology Reports reporting lives lost due to inadequate torso side coverage by the issued armor. The Army’s answer is to provide rigid side plates – less flexibility and more weight.

In my opinion such treatment borders on being criminal when you continue to place people directly in harms way yet do not provide the best equipment to protect them. Being aware of problems with the currently issued armor and knowingly preventing solutions to such problems demonstrates culpability.

We have found the following statements from the Army to be false:

1. The Army’s latest attempts to obfuscate this issue with the american public in a Pentagon release is wrong. General Sorenson said, “Now, I will say that there is another services that has procured this type of capability, but has recently recalled it because it did not meet standards”.

2. General Sorenson says regarding the Dragon Skin development, that we have had to take a look at the latest seven iterations of the SAPI/Interceptor system to come up with a different way of manufacturing our body armor, and that the Army has encouraged this.

3. General Sorenson told the press “the latest iteration of Army body armor has been completely fielded into theater”.

4. General Sorenson still speaking on behalf of the Army again, agrees that there is lighter and more flexible body armor, but, that the Army has “not seen that this capability has done anything with respect to preventing, providing any level of force protection that we evaluate as even standard”. “There is particular evidence to state that we’re not really sure what it provides”. The second statement we are not sure of its meaning.

5. General Moran states, “ …it’s probably not advisable because we have not found that the protection provided by these other particular systems is anywhere near what the soldiers have today”.

6. General Sorenson further states, “ If they can provide the capability that satisfies the test which, to date, anything that they’ve delivered has not satisfied the test”.

7. General Sorenson replying to a question to the validity of the amount of Dragon Skin body armor in theater states, “Again, to my knowledge, I do not know. I mean, the claims are such, we have not been able to verify those claims”.

8. General Sorenson states in regards to money that Army has paid to develop the Dragon Skin, that the Army has provided to us, close to a million dollars in an SBIR and that he is “shocked” that we would disagree that they provided us money to develop the system.

These are statements from officers of the military who should be honest, unbiased and above reproach.

Aside from the actual classified information and test data, the letters, e-mail correspondence, test data are available to provide proof that the Army and specifically General Moran and General Sorenson have been provided information in January and February 2006 to verify and refute these misrepresentations and false statements that were designed to create a false impression and discredit the Dragon Skin body armor. This is the level of perfidy that is allowed to go on within the Army while our troops are suffering and/or dieing because of it. We can provide viewing of such for validation but will not allow any copying or removal of such documents.

We have agreed with General Moran to provide at their cost 30 complete full torso wrapped vests to be shot at a range with pre-set specifications. The test will be viewed and observed by industry and ballistic professionals. Now the Army is asking that the vests be sent to them for inspection for several days prior to the test, which was not agreed to. We will not do that when they have shown to try to do everything to cause discredit to our company, and the armor we provide, in addition to other things such as creating irregularities that would induce premature failure during the ballistic test. If the test with the Army does not take place, we will carry out a test for Congress, the House and Senate Armed Services, Senators, the Executive Branch, or other qualified observers to prove what we have said and demonstrated is directly opposite of what the Army is telling the American People. During these tests, those who attend can open the crate of vests, look at, count, inspect, weigh and then have the armor shot without any interference with the armor before it is tested.

The Army has recently stated they are looking at their needs for a flexible, greater ballistic capability, lighter weight body armor for replacement of the current system and for future systems. Dragon Skin armor has been providing what the Army now says it needs FOR THE LAST NINE YEARS!

Let’s stop paying good taxpayer money for rigid plate armor that does not provide the highest level of protection and continually needs to be replaced. Purchase what will work, be durable, and meet the needs of our troops, their lives depend upon it!

We have asked the Army several times for a Ballistic “proof” side-by-side test with the Army’s un-categorically best in the world and General Moran has told me that it will not happen, however, if it is categorically the best, then put the best along side the Dragon Skin for a fair and unbiased shoot to let the evidence make that determination.
Murray Neal
Pinnacle Armor, Inc.
5425 E. Home Ave. #104
Fresno, CA 93727-2106
(800) 200-0915 *TOLL FREE*
(559) 320-1221 *VOICE*
(559) 320-1229/1230 *FAX*"
Click here to read the PDF version of Murray Neal’s/Pinnacle Armor’s response to the SOUM and Major General Jeffrey Sorenson.

Video Clips and Previous Articles on Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Body Armor:

Right-click on the links below and then click on "Save Target As" to download and view the video clips (live-fire testing of Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin body armor) below:
Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Indoor Shooting Test (Standard Range View) on 1/26/06 — 21 Rounds 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AK-47/AKM-variant rifle, and 120 rounds 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin/SOV Indoor Shooting Test (Uninterrupted Close-Up View) on 1/26/06
— 21 Rounds 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AK-47/AKM-variant rifle, and 120 rounds 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from HK MP5 subgun.

Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Outdoor Shooting Test (Standard Range View) on 1/27/06 — 40 rounds of 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AKM/AK-47-variant rifle, and 150 rounds of 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from HK MP5 subgun.
The following are links to previous DefRev articles on the ongoing Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor situation (in order from most recent to least recent):

Pinnacle Armor Responds to U.S. Army SOUM and Gen. Sorenson by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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