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Army signs emergency deal for armor

By wire services
Published January 21, 2006

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army, under pressure to issue more protective gear to its soldiers in Iraq, has signed a $70-million emergency contract with a California company to rush ceramic body armor to the front lines.

The sole-source contract, with Ceradyne Inc. of California, was approved last week and announced Friday. It comes on the heels of a Pentagon study that found side armor could have saved dozens of U.S. lives in Iraq.

The Army is planning to buy 230,000 sets of the ceramic side plates. Army spokesman Paul Boyce said that one company will not be able to deliver that order in the time required, so additional vendors are being sought through an open-bid process.

The company is expected to begin shipping the armor plates this month and to complete the order by May or June.

German minister denies espionage aid in Iraq war

BERLIN - The German foreign minister appeared in Parliament Friday and denied reports that his nation's spies helped U.S. forces identify bombing targets during the Iraq war, including a tip on Saddam Hussein's location.

The comments by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier came amid a widening political storm in Germany over what role the former government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder secretly played in assisting Washington on the Iraq invasion.

German intelligence services did not "support operative fighting actions," said Steinmeier in attempts to persuade opposition lawmakers not to push for a special parliamentary investigation.

Reports in the German media and the Los Angeles Times, based on interviews with U.S. military and intelligence officials, suggest the Germans were more active.

[Last modified January 21, 2006, 01:34:14]

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