Special Ops Body Armor Recalled After Safety Defects Found

PHOTO: Lt. Andrew Minoski of Las Vegas, Nevada of the U.S. Armys 172nd Brigade Combat Team (C) dons his body armor before a patrol January 19, 2009 in Musayyib, in the Babil Province, Iraq.
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Thousands of body armor plates worn by U.S. Special Operations troops are being recalled after it was discovered that a small percentage of the plates have safety defects.

The defects were identified in less than 5 percent of the Generation III ballistic armor plates that are issued to special forces, a spokesperson for United States Special Operations Command confirmed to ABCNews.com.

"The command has also developed and implemented a test that is being used in the field to determine if a plate is defective. All ballistic plates have been tested and Special Operations Forces are performing the test as part of their pre-combat inspection," USSOCOM said in a statement.

An analysis determined the small percentage of plates were defective due to "internal manufacturing and quality assurance processes" during manufacture by Ceradyne, Inc.

"The Department of Defense was actually the one that found this flaw, and it would seem at least from the reporting that there may be some question about whether the company was responsive to the fixing it and acknowledging that there was a problem," ABC News military consultant and retired Marine Col. Stephen Ganyard said.

While the California-based ceramics manufacturer is making the new plates, Generation II plates will be issued in exchange for the defective ones, USSOCOM said.

No one has been killed or wounded as a result of the defective body armor, according to USSOCCOM.

The plates, which are inserted into bullet proof vests, have saved countless lives over the years.

"I think the most troubling thing here is that we've damaged the trust that our troops have in their safety kit, and that's a problem," Ganyard said. "The troops ought to be able to go outside the wire and have every confidence that their ballistic plates are going to prevent a bullet from penetrating their vests.

"This has probably shaken their faith in their equipment, and that's the real fallout here," he said.

ABCNews.com was unable to immediately reach Ceradyne for comment.

ABC News Radio contributed to this report

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