Press Coverage

Shield made in DeWitt praised for protecting officers in Pentagon attack

July 6th, 2010

Mobile shields made by a DeWitt company helped to protect police officers from a man who tried to shoot his way into the Pentagon March 4.

Defenshield Inc. said Pentagon officials told the company the day after the shooting that the shields, which the company calls mobile defensive fighting positions, were “instrumental in protecting the officers during the incident.”

Theresa Brigandi, vice president of marketing for Defenshield, said the Pentagon has not given the company any more information about the role the shields played. But she said one indication that the shields were hit is that the Pentagon ordered two replacement shields the next day.

She said the company has been invited to meet with Pentagon officials early next month to discuss ways to enhance security at the building’s entrances. She said the company is hoping to learn more then about how its shields performed.

Chris Layman, a spokesman for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, confirmed that the shields played a role in protecting the officers. He said two of the four officers involved were standing behind shields provided by Defenshield when John Patrick Bedell, 36, of California, pulled out a gun at the Metro subway entrance to the Pentagon and began shooting.

He identified the two officers as Colin Richards and Marvin Carraway Jr. Carraway was wounded but has recovered. The Pentagon spokesman would not say how Carraway was exposed to gunfire.

Two other officers — Jeffery Amos and Dexter Jones — were also standing guard at the entrance, though not behind the shields, Layman said. Amos also was wounded in the attack but has recovered.

The officers fired back at Bedell and fatally wounded him. Police said he appeared to have a history of mental illness and had no ties to terrorists.

All four officers were honored at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes June 25.

The armored shields made by Defenshield have been used at the Pentagon since 2004. The devices are 76 inches tall and 36 inches wide. The lower half of the shields is made of armor, and the upper half is made of glass that can stop any bullet up to and including a 30-06 armor-piercing round, making them particularly effective against snipers, according to Defenshield.

The devices can be pushed around on wheels and are typically used at entrances to high-security facilities to provide protection to guards. Defenshield says officers can reach around the shields to return fire. Unlike body armor, which only protects a guard’s midsection, the shields provide head-to-toe protection, the company says.

Brigandi said the glass on the top of the shields will appear to shatter when hit by a bullet. However, the glass actually “captures” the bullet, and a special coating on the back side keeps any glass fragments from coming off the shield, she said. The Pentagon likely replaced the two units for aesthetic purposes, she said.

In the weeks following the shooting, the Pentagon ordered more shields, she said.

Air Force veteran and former Carrier Corp. engineer William Collins White III founded Defenshield in 2002 to protect security personnel in airports after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The company says more than 1,000 of its ballistic shields have been deployed around the world by the U.S. military and federal law enforcement agencies, and at courthouses and nuclear facilities. They cost about $15,000 each.

The company recently began marketing a modified version of the shields for use on ships traveling pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia and elsewhere.

Defenshield employs 11 people in DeWitt and contracts with other manufacturers, mostly in the Upstate area, to fabricate the components and assemble the shields.

Defenshield Anti-Piracy Equipment Appears on CNN

October 30th, 2009

Defenshield’s bullet and blast resistant Rail Cap appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” this week in a segment on ships fighting back against piracy. A video of the show is currently available on CNN’s website at

With the recent hijacking of ships off the coast of Somalia, particularly the British couple apparently kidnapped from their yacht and still being held hostage, the problem of piracy has become more prevalent and visible, and shipping companies and operators are fighting back.

Defenshield is working with International Maritime Security Network (IMSN) to share product knowledge and expertise to protect commercial ships from a variety of threats, primarily in an anti-piracy capacity. The Defenshield Rail Cap is an engineered ballistic solution that can be used in a variety of situations where protection from a range of small arms, up to RPG weaponry, is necessary aboard shipping vessels. It is part of IMSN’s “Triton Shield Anti-Piracy System” which encompasses Defenshield’s Rail Cap as well as IMSN’s training, water system, and security team, and cameras produced by EyeOn Security Systems.

Defenshield is a global supplier of engineered glass and armor ballistic solutions. Its products are widely used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as at entry control points on military posts throughout the United States and the world.

International Maritime Security Network’s mission is to detect, deter and defend against maritime threats worldwide. IMSN training prepares clients to efficiently detect and intelligently evaluate potential threats, and imparts the practical knowledge, tactical capability and invaluable sense of responsibility to provide for smarter security, secure clients and safer seas. For more information, visit or call (724) 356-4676.

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

June 1st, 2009

With security such a sensitive issue, discovering what type of high resistance glazing is needed can be tricky. But however shy the client, it’s vital to find out.

Were Robert Hooke alive now, and looking down from the Monument he completed in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London, he might well have been dismayed earlier this year by the events unfolding in the City streets below, during the G20 riots. Alternatively, he could have drawn some consolation from the fact that, even as the security windows installed in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s City HQ were attacked by angry protestors, the resulting damage from missile throwing was proof of his theories that presaged Newton’s first and second laws of motion. Such consolations were unfortunately not afforded executives at RBS, saddled with the repairs to their street level glazing; but the damage is also a textbook example of another kind to architects – to ensure that when it comes to high-performance glazing systems, they are sure that they are specified correctly.

According to Edward Wills, technical manager for the special processing division at glazing manufacturer Solaglas, the problem is that there is very little specific guidance out there to go on, just a plethora of general. In an industry that is usually highly governed by performance standards ‘blast proof or bullet proof glazing is strange, solely because from an architects’ point of view there’s little by way of directly applicable standards. Actually, I should say the word resistant rather than proof,’ he says, correcting himself mid-conversation, ‘If a bullet or bomb is big enough then a hole can be made in glass, and people need to be aware of that’. But by his own admission, reticence tends to characterise the conversations Wills has with architects and clients on the subject.

And that’s mainly due to the fact that, with security such a sensitive subject, negotiations are generally ‘cloak and dagger’ affairs. Clients do not really want to divulge their particular requirements, with manufacturers sometimes even left unaware of the location or nature of the building their products are being fitted into. This causes big problems when it comes to specification, says Wills. ‘The difficulty is that there are fundamental differences in the responses of bullet, intruder and blast resistant glass, so it’s vital the architect and manufacturer get a measure from the client of what they are supposed to be protecting against. Everything depends on the nature of the perceived threat,’ he says, emphasising that there is no ‘one glass that fits all’ scenario. He adds that a clear idea of use also leads to a better pricing regime, as over-specification can have exponential effects on the final tender price.

The general requirements for how glass or plastic achieve greater ballistic and blast resistance are based on the thickness of the material and the presence of polybutyl plastic interlayers that maintain the integrity of the glazing and prevent spalling after it is distressed, but how the glazing is precisely made up after that remains an industry secret. The difference in behaviour between the two types of applications however, is fundamental, and the design of homogenous cladding systems key. A technical advisor at cladding firm Schüco puts it succinctly: ‘You’ll want flexibility with blast resistant frames, and rigidity with bullet resistant systems. It is an oxymoron to assume the two are compatible.’ The glass frame, then, performs two different functions. For bullet resistance it holds the glass in place for localised but very high force ballistic attack, but for blast it allows the glass to ‘pillow’ quite radically across its surface – deformation can be in excess of 150mm post event. Specifiers should look to current guidance on both scenarios, comprising MoD guidelines, based on ‘weak’, ‘normal’, ‘enhanced’ and ‘special’ performance criteria: BS EN356 for resistance to manual attack, BS EN1063 for bullet attack and ISO 16933 for blast-resistant glass.

Architects also need to be clear about the limitations that might be imposed on their designs. Solaglass say a ballpark figure for glass thickness to resist a 9mm handgun bullet would be 22mm, whereas for an AK47, for instance, it would be around 50mm. For armour piercing ballistics, go up an order of magnitude again, to about 73mm. But as Wills points out, fitting glass of these thicknesses becomes a logistical as well as optical issue – 1sq m will weigh as much as 175kg, and optical performance is reduced. At this point, specifiers may want to go down the road of polycarbonate glazing products. ‘Thickness is significantly less, although the cost is much higher,’ he explains, ‘But this extra expense can be offset against the reduced manpower and logistical requirements for installation.’ Bear in mind that design and sectional thickness of the cladding system will be affected too. Ballistic rigidity will necessitate greater mullion section thickness. For blast resistance, expect the presence of more transoms and mullions than you might actually want.

But Schüco, like Solaglas, is very clear that correct specification is about a systems approach. ‘We use the term “harmonisation”,’ says a company glazing technical adviser. ‘Basically no one element of the glazing, frame or structure can be stronger or weaker than another, and unlike some firms that base their calculations on finite element analysis, we actively build test systems to destruction to ensure that’s the case. Under European standards, specifiers should make sure that the BR (bullet resistance) rating for a frame, for instance, matches the BR rating of the glass (both 1-7 depending on performance). For blast resistance, EXV ratings of frame and glass should likewise tally. According to Brian Waldron, chair of the committee on glass at the British Standards Institute, who saw the effects of mis-coordination of frame and glazing when he visited the City three days after the 1993 Bishopsgate bomb, this consideration is critical. ‘For explosions, you want the glass to absorb the blast, deform and dissipate remaining energy through the cladding to the structure,’ he explains. ‘I saw an example at Bishopsgate where, as a result of the glass being too rigid, the cladding and glass had literally torn itself away from the slabs in the explosion, taking concrete with it. It turned out to be the building itself that wasn’t strong enough to resist the transferred impact load.’

With all the emphasis on dynamic physics and ballistics, one can forget the whole reason why the guidelines are there – to reduce the loss of life in the event of attack. But on occasion design development may bring that possibility starkly into focus. In a situation where you are specifying to mitigate the effects of terrorism, it’s a given that at some point in a blast scenario, consultants have to prioritise spaces either side of the glass. What doesn’t rupture will by default contain and reflect explosive waves, and the effects of that, especially on internal spaces, can be severe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And where there’s a potential human cost to design decisions, it becomes an onerous consideration of Newton’s third and final law.


It protects installations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Air Force One and Marine Corp One; hell, it’s even protected Barack Obama, so the bods at Defenshield Inc in the USA are no strangers to high pressure as well as high profile assignments. There’s a lot of competition in the market for permanent bullet-resistant glazing systems and body armour, but Defenshield thinks it has positioned itself in a very specific niche. ‘We like to think of ourselves as occupying the space between tactical personal protection and bricks and mortar architecture by virtue of the mobility of the product,’ explains company president Collins White.

Laminations of glass within a urethane binder, specified to meet the performance criteria of National Institute of Justice level 4, means Defenshield the product can catch a 9mm, 50 calibre bullet fired at over 3,000ft/sec, so the product can deal with armour piercing bullets. At 76in tall and 36in wide, and weighing 500-750lbs, it’s a (just) portable bullet-resistant glazing system – although White admits that while it has blast resistance, it is likely to suffer ‘secondary fragmentation’ once it has reached its threshold.

‘I got the idea for marketing the product after seeing how heavily armed the guards were at New York’s Syracuse airport at the end of 2001,’ he recalls, ‘and felt this could be overcome by more architectural security approaches’.

White, who has been looking at potential markets overseas, is yet to make a UK breakthrough – where SPT markets the product. Will he be quoting for the new US Embassy in London? ‘Well, we’ve had our product installed in the US Consulate in Kabul,’ he remarks, ‘so it’s tried and tested. We’ll have to see.’

‘Sweat Hogs’ reinforce Baghdadi TCP

February 10th, 2008

Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 recently spent time making traffic control in a local Iraqi town a little safer.

A group of engineers from the “Sweat Hogs” spent four days rebuilding and reinforcing the traffic control point in Baghdadi, Iraq, making it safer for the Marines of Delta Company, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, who man the TCP.

“It was very helpful,” said Staff Sgt. Daryl D. Lee, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the TCP Marines. “It provides better quality of life for the Marines and better security for the area.”

The group of Marines, which consisted of 11 combat engineers, two heavy equipment operators and one heavy equipment mechanic, went to Baghdadi in a convoy escorted by members of the Sweat Hog Incident Response Platoon, Feb. 10. Once they arrived at the TCP, the Marines quickly unloaded their equipment and went to work.

The Marines brought concrete barriers, Hesco barriers, and wooden bunkers with them to harden the defenses around the traffic control point.

The most important mission for the Marines was to extend the concrete dividers on the south side of the TCP out to 300 meters and to reinforce the vehicle check points.

“Essentially what we did was build a fortified bunker at each of the vehicle check points,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Cornett, the construction foreman of MWSS-273. “We also used 30 (concrete barriers) at the south end of the TCP so that Marines and Iraqi soldiers could use proper escalation of force.”

The bunkers built at the vehicle checkpoints are not only for the safety of the Marines, but of the Iraqi drivers as well. Iraqis will be able to use the bunkers if the TCP is attacked by indirect fire, according to Lee.

“They made tactical improvements down in the vehicle checkpoints…so we’re not putting the Iraqis in harm when we are checking their vehicles,” said Lee.

The largest task for the Sweat Hogs was rebuilding the bunker where the Delta Company Marines slept.

“The biggest project was building the 55 by 65 foot Hesco bunker,” said Cornett. “It’s a lot more protected than what they had before, which was essentially plywood and cammie netting.”

1/1’s Alpha Co. helps secure Fallujah

November 11th, 2007

For Marines, manning one of the only entrances available for entry into Fallujah from the city’s western side can mean long hours exercising extreme focus even during times of boredom, and using a sixth sense to detect danger during an otherwise calm and peaceful Iraqi day. This entrance, called an entry control point, is placed strategically at one of the largest roads into and out of Fallujah, and is manned by leathernecks with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6.

Fallujah residents hustle and bustle through the ECP carrying groceries and carts filled with tools, clothes and produce. The people can peek through the cracks between barriers which surround them and see lanes where cars line up to be searched. Enabling almost every man, woman and child to go about their daily lives in an orderly manner, while maintaining essential security, is the primary objective of the Marines here.

Advanced electronic identification systems, and the hard work and dedication of Marines in Company A, 1st Bn., 1st Marines, have helped keep the streets of Fallujah safer since they arrived during July.

Lance Cpl. Zach S. Lively, a 20-year-old assaultman with Company A, watched through the ballistic glass window and down toward a crop-covered field that borders the road and ECP. From his post, which looms 30 feet above the Iraqi landscape, he explained that he normally stands the east and west posts and works down on the ground regulating traffic. According to the 2006 Green Mountain High School graduate, regulating traffic is preferable to standing post because he is a lot closer to the people.

“When a vehicle needs to get through the ECP, they have to be escorted by an Iraqi policeman and then you have to talk to the driver and see what’s going on,” said the Denver native. “The Marines will then call over radios to the Joint Coordination Center to see if they are cleared to enter.”

“You see a lot of the same people every day and you know them and build a relationship with them,” said Lively. “You get to know the IPs and the drivers, and learn when everything is going right and when something is up. If anything is off you know it right away.”

This is the sixth sense the Marines have developed in this simple, but demanding job. It is present even in Pvt. Jace D. Sorter, a 24-year-old assaultman and Aberdeen, Wash., native, who before midday had already checked the identification of 1,936 males above the age of 15 who had passed through the personnel center.

“All foot-mobile personnel with the general public come through this area and must present valid identification if they want to get through,” said the 2001 Aberdeen High School graduate, standing in a dug out space, which was heavily reinforced with ballistic glass and sandbags. “If they have an old ID or its invalid, then we send them down to the cave.”

The cave is the nickname, given by the Marines, to a plywood building where Iraqi citizens are issued new IDs. But that’s not all, said Lance Cpl. Russel A. Jones, who serves as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the cave.

“When someone needs to have a new ID card made, whether they had one of the old ones or just need to get one, we collect all of the individual’s information and assign it an identification number,” said the 20-year-old David City, Neb., native. “We then place all of this information on a database that is used by ECPs all over the place.”

This database holds the information of millions of people, down to even the finest details of physical characteristics. When Marines check a person’s ID electronically, like ECP 5 Marines do, they get a total readout of the person’s legal and residential history along with other information, allowing them to determine if a person should be allowed to pass, if they should be turned away, or if they should be detained.

“It’s a great system that allows us to safely control traffic flow into and out of Fallujah as well as catch the bad guys,” said the 2005 David City High School graduate. “About a week ago, we got an alert on a guy that was responsible for laying IEDs. A couple of days ago, using this system, we caught him trying to come through our ECP.”

There is a sense of accomplishment by all the Marines at ECPs. They have pride in what they do, because they know they are protecting Al Anbar, and their fellow Marines.

Falluja’s Calm Is Seen as Fragile if U.S. Leaves

August 19th, 2007

Falluja’s police chief, Col. Faisal Ismail Hussein, waved aloft a picture of a severed head in a bucket as a reminder of the brutality of the fundamentalist Sunni militias that once controlled this city. But he also described an uncertain future without “my only supporters,” the United States Marine Corps.

Nearly three years after invading and seizing Falluja from insurgents, the Marines are engaged in another struggle here: trying to build up a city, and police force, that seem to get little help from the Shiite-dominated national government.

Photo credit: Marko Georgiev for The New York Times

Fallujans complain that they are starved of generator fuel and medical care because of a citywide vehicle ban imposed by the mayor, a Sunni, in May. But in recent months violence has fallen sharply, a byproduct of the vehicle ban, the wider revolt by Sunni Arab tribes against militants and a new strategy by the Marines to divide Falluja into 10 tightly controlled precincts, each walled off by concrete barriers and guarded by a new armed Sunni force.

Security has improved enough that they are planning to largely withdraw from the city by next spring. But their plan hinges on the performance of the Iraqi government, which has failed to provide the Falluja police with even the most routine supplies, Marine officers say.

The gains in Falluja, neighboring Ramadi and other areas in Anbar Province, once the most violent area in Iraq and the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, are often cited as a success story, a possible model for the rest of Iraq. But interviews with marines and Iraqi officials in Falluja suggest that the recent relative calm here is fragile and that the same sectarian rivalries that have divided the Iraqi government could undermine security as soon as the Marines leave.

Rank-and-file marines question how security forces here would fare on their own, especially when the vehicle ban is lifted.

If Falluja were left unsupervised too soon, “there is a good chance we would lose everything we have gained,” said Sgt. Chris Turpin, an intelligence analyst with a military training team here.

Marine commanders emphasize there is no hard-and-fast date for leaving the city. “A lot of people say that without the Americans it’s all going to collapse,” said Col. Richard Simcock, the commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team Six in eastern Anbar. “I’m not that negative. I’ve seen too much success here to believe that.”

Most of the fuel, ammunition and vehicle maintenance for the Falluja police is still supplied by the American military, said Maj. Todd Sermarini, the marine in charge of police training here.

Some police officers have been forced to buy gasoline from black-market roadside vendors. “Ammunition is a big problem, weapons are a problem, and wages are a problem,” said Capt. Al Cheng, 34, a company commander working with the police here.

Many Sunni leaders here contend that the Shiite-dominated government is neglecting them for sectarian reasons, and the bad feelings at times boil over into angry accusations. In interviews conducted in early August, some said that factions in the Interior Ministry were taking orders from Iran, or that the government was withholding money and support because it did not want to build up Sunni security forces that it could end up fighting after an eventual American withdrawal from Iraq.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad deny shortchanging Falluja, saying they have authorized more than enough police forces for Anbar. “We’d like to support them, but that does not mean we can respond to their requests or demands,” said Sadiq al-Rikabi, political adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. He said the government had problems supplying the police throughout Iraq.

The Marines operate as a “shock absorber” between the locals and the central government, said Brig. Gen. John Allen, the deputy Marine commander in Anbar Province. The animosity toward Baghdad among the Sunnis here “worries me, but I don’t despair of it,” he said, adding that he thought the government’s lack of support was more a result of bureaucratic inefficiency than sectarian hostility. “The challenge for us is to connect the province to the central government.”

But first, marines in Falluja have to connect residents with their own police force. On a recent weekend, that involved establishing a joint American-Iraqi security outpost in Andalus, one of the city’s worst neighborhoods, where the pockmarked buildings still bear the scars of the 2004 American assault.

In just 24 hours, marines cut enough electrical cable and plywood to turn a shell of a building into a functioning outpost, one of the 10 they are building, one for each precinct, and to wall off the precinct behind concrete barriers, leaving only a few ways in or out.

The next step was to recruit an auxiliary force to help the police. After careful screening, they hired 200 Iraqis to serve in a neighborhood watch for the precinct, part of an effort to bolster the undersized force of slightly more than 1,000 police officers for the city and surrounding area. The members of the new force are paid $50 a month by the Marines to stand guard — mostly at checkpoints at the entrances to the neighborhood — with weapons they bring from home, typically AK-47s.

Seven of the city’s 10 precincts have now gotten the same treatment as Andalus. The idea behind the outposts was to roust the Iraqi police from their central headquarters, which they seldom left, and get them into the neighborhood outposts.

The new plan makes it easier for marines to act as mentors for the policemen, whose heavy-handed tactics remain a concern. The police need to learn not to arrest “a hundred people” for a single crime, Colonel Simcock said. “What’s going to stop Al Qaeda is not having 99 people angry at the police because they were wrongfully arrested,” he said.

Despite the marines’ best efforts to screen recruits, Captain Cheng said, “it wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of the guys we used to fight are in the neighborhood watch.” But he says the new force has already made a difference, turning in active insurgents and guarding precincts that have only 10 or 20 police officers on patrol at any one time.

Captain Cheng says the plan to turn Falluja’s security over to the police is on track, but he points out how much the marines still do. “We are the ones emplacing the barriers, we are the ones hiring the neighborhood watch,” he said. “We are the ones establishing the conditions for them to succeed.”

Violence has dropped sharply in the city, where no marines have been killed or wounded since mid-May. But deadly skirmishes have been common around the nearby village of Karma and in remote areas north of Falluja.

Twenty-five service members have been killed in Anbar Province since the beginning of July, according to, making it by far the deadliest province after Baghdad.

The struggle to supply the police overshadows another important element in the American military’s gains in Anbar: contracts awarded to Sunni tribal allies in rural areas.

The tribes have relatively little influence in Falluja but dominate elsewhere in the province. Their decision to ally with the Marines helped stabilize the entire region, and men from tribes now serve in provincial security forces to help keep insurgents at bay.

One Marine civil affairs officer estimates that a quarter of the $10 million his unit has committed to spending around Falluja since March has gone to the Abu Issa tribe, which is centered west of Falluja. The Jumaili, a tribe near Karma, has received $1 million, the officer said. The contracts are typically for water treatment plants, refurbishing clinics and similar projects.

“The politics here are very much governed by greed, and this is the real alliance in Anbar,” said an American reconstruction official here who worries the contracts are only a temporary glue with the tribes and who was not authorized to speak publicly. If the Iraqi government provided more, “everything would be much more sustainable.”

The last security outpost is set to be finished in September, followed by four new police stations scattered throughout the city. If all goes as planned, the marines should begin leaving the city early next year, said Lt. Col. Bill Mullen, who commands the Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, the unit that patrols Falluja.

In effect, the Marines are predicting they can leave Falluja on the same timeline many in Congress want to see troops pulled back to larger bases or leaving altogether. Troops who would have patrolled Falluja would deploy into outlying areas by April, but close enough to reinforce the city in a crisis, Colonel Mullen said. Small police training and liaison teams would also remain.

“Everything we are doing is oriented toward our ability to leave,” he said, adding that the most likely obstacle to leaving by April would be the continued failure of the Interior Ministry to supply the police. “You can’t help hearing stuff going on back in the United States, and Congress reaching for the chain to pull the plug out of the bathtub. The smart money says there is finite time.”

The Iraqi Army has already been pulling out of Falluja. The last battalion is scheduled to leave in September. Though the marines here say the Iraqi soldiers were a good unit, there has been tension between the police and the soldiers, who one marine commander said were 90 percent Shiite. Marines say guns-drawn confrontations have occurred, though none recently.

The tensions briefly boiled over on a recent joint patrol through Andalus, when the police accused Iraqi soldiers of stealing blankets from large bags of supplies being handed to residents from the back of trucks.

As people from the neighborhood looked on, the soldiers accused the police of being “moles” and “spies” for insurgents, and the Iraqi Army commander shouted and shook his finger in the faces of policemen. The police shouted back, accusing the soldiers of serving as Iranian agents. Afterward, the police and army commanders calmed down their troops and shook hands.

If the Iraqi government provided a large and steady supply of men, weapons, vehicles and equipment, the police could secure the city, said Colonel Hussein, the Falluja police chief. But he complained of little support from the government except for salaries, which he doubted would be paid if the Americans were not here. He said he also needed four times more policemen. “Without the role of the Marines, I’ll fail,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a senior Interior Ministry spokesman, called Colonel Hussein’s comments “unprofessional.” In an interview, he said if the Falluja police had an equipment shortage then they failed to request enough gear earlier.

He added that if Colonel Hussein is so fond of the Marines, perhaps he should apply for American citizenship.

Wisam A. Habeeb and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi contributed reporting from Baghdad.

U.S. places E. Syracuse company’s largest order

July 26th, 2007

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, former Carrier Corp. engineer Collins White started a company in his living room with a simple idea: He wanted to make blast shields to protect officers at security check points.

Since then, Defenshield has grown into a seven-employee company in East Syracuse, and, on Wednesday, it received its biggest boost yet.
Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, said he secured a $3.5 million defense appropriation for Defenshield, which will result in the single largest order in the company’s history.

White said his company will produce about 350 additional bullet- and blast-resistant shields for the U.S. Army to use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The order will allow him to hire an additional three workers.

“I’m very proud of it,” White said Wednesday. “We’re a little company but we’re doing a big job putting armor in front of guys who are in harm’s way.”

He added, “This will help get more of these mobile defensive fighting positions (shields) in front of people in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Defenshield products are now used by all four branches of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, White said.

The Army recently ordered 50 more shields for units in three provinces in Iraq, he said. The Marine Corps in Iraq has 500 of the shields.

“This is going to give us a chance to consolidate our research and development efforts,” White said of the new contract. “We’re looking for a couple of new people to come in so we can put our engineering workers to better use.”

The money for Defenshield was among $16.5 million in contract for Central New York businesses approved Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee’s defense appropriations bill. The bill now moves to the full House for a vote.

The other projects secured by Walsh were:
$3 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. in Salina for an ongoing sonar research and development program for anti-submarine warfare.
The project involves building an anti-submarine warfare mission module for the Navy’s unmanned littoral combat ship. The ship will be able to tow sonar and receiving arrays.

Lockheed Martin does not expect to add any jobs as a result of the funding.

“It’s a big boost for us,” said Brad Hines, Lockheed Martin’s director of business development for undersea systems in Salina. “It will allow us to retain some of that expertise that we have. It’s primarily about retaining the talent that could go somewhere else.”

$3 million to Syracuse Research Corp. in North Syracuse.
The money will be used for a project known as RAINCOAT (Reasoning and Assessment of Intelligence for Counter-Narcotics and Anti-Terrorism).

The company is developing a software application that assists the Air Force in the detection, identification and monitoring of insurgent, terrorist and drug activities.

$3 million for a joint research program run by Starfire Systems Inc., of Albany. Its partners include the State University of New York and Syracuse University for the development of “intelligent clothing.”

The clothing, designed for soldiers and emergency first-responders, would be able to sense a chemical-biological attack and automatically change the permeability of the clothing for safety.

$2.5 million to Source Sentinel of East Syracuse for a project to develop sensors that detect chemical and biological agents in the water.

The national security project is a partnership of State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry, O’Brien and Gere and Sensis.

$1.5 million for General Electric Industrial, Inspection Technologies and Sensing of Skaneateles.

The project will help General Electric Inspection Technologies develop hardware and software for a Navy interactive inspection reporting system. The system will give inspectors the ability to communicate, in real time via the Internet, with remote experts about the fitness of ship propulsion systems.

Defenshield to move to new home

February 2nd, 2007

Defenshield, Inc., a local developer of bullet-and-blast resistant products, is moving to an expanded headquarters to keep pace with the firm’s rapid growth.

The company’s plans to move into the new, 7,500-square-foot office, located 14 Corporate Circle, in February.

“We’re in a space right now that really only accommodates three people. We have five full-timers,” says Theresa Brigandi, vice president of marketing. “We want to get into a space that’s going to allow us to grow.”

Defenshield plans to hire at least two additional employees in the next few months, she adds. The company is mainly looking for engineers and product managers.

Most of the firm’s sales come from international locations and the Washington D.C. area, thanks to the use of its products by military and government groups, Brigandi says.

The company recently added a salesperson in Washington.

Sales at Defenshield have tripled every year for the past four years, Brigandi adds. The firm expects strong growth again in 2007.

Defenshield signed a three-year lease for the new, 7,500-square-foot office. The Oliva Companies owns the building. Defenshield’s current, 500-square-foot headquarters on Old Collamer Road is also in a building owned by Oliva.

In addition to new, expanded office space, the company will also have some warehouse space and an area to perform some testing and prototyping, Brigandi says. “This will allow us to consolidate some materials,” she says. “It will be more efficient for us.”

The new headquarters will also have some showroom-like space where the firm will display its products, Brigandi says.

Defenshield’s lead product is a mobile, protective barrier. It is used in a variety of locations from aviation-security stations to military check-points in Iraq.

About 400 of the company’s protective barriers are deployed with troops in Iraq. They have also been used at security stations in federal courthouses during the trials of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the Washington D.C. – area snipers.

The barriers, which provide users with head-to-toe protection, are also deployed on U.S. Navy ships for security in foreign, potentially dangerous ports.

Defenshield, founded in 2002, also developed a line of blast-resistant windows for use in locations like guard stations.

Collins White, the firm’s president, CEO, and founder, is also the majority owner, along with a few other individual investors.

White served in the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 1992. He also worked for Carrier Corp. and Applied Biosystems of California. He has a degree in electrical engineering from the State University of New York Institute of Technology.

In addition to new headquarters, the company in April opened a 15-acre research and development site in Cicero, featuring a 1,200-square-foot storage facility and 50-, 100-, and 200-yard shooting ranges. The facility eliminated the need for the company to perform its product testing at local gun clubs and shooting ranges. As a commercial customer, the firm was limited in what it could do at the ranges, White said at the time the research facility opened.

More Defenshield MDFP’s on their way to support US Marines in Iraq

September 13th, 2006

In a contract award valued in excess of $1.3 million, I Marine Expeditionary Force has requested additional DS-192 Mobile Defensive Fighting positions (MDFP) to support operations in Iraq.

This award brings the total of MDFPs protecting and US and Iraqi security forces deployed in Iraq to over 400 units. Deliveries will begin in November and include the ATV mobility option developed especially for use on unimproved and rough surfaces.

The Defenshield MDFP units are currently deployed at entry control points in various cities in Iraq, especially in the Green Zone.

The Defenshield product line is certified to NIJ Level III (assault rifles), NIJ Level IV (30-06 armour piercing), and is certified by the US State Department to Standard 01.01 for resistance to both 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO rounds.

“The more effectively our troops are protected, the faster they can complete their mission, stabilize Iraq and return home.” said Collins White, President of Defenshield. “The security provided by the MDFP’s allows our Soldiers and Marines to safely engage and defeat enemy forces.”

Defenshield builds sales by saving lives

August 11th, 2006

Collins White, President of Defenshield Inc., flew home to Syracuse in October 2001 noting the airports full of well-armed National Guard, state troopers, and local police – all wearing little body armor.

At that point, White, a former manufacturing engineer at Carrier with a background in sheet-metal work, decided that there might be a market for armor that was mobile, 100 percent protective, and aesthetically pleasing in an aviation-security environment.

“I built a couple of prototypes and they tested successfully.” White says.  “I received a National Institute of Justice certification and the highest commercial available rating, then started the marketing and sales push.”

Defenshield’s first sale came in early 2003, when the Naval Station in Mayport, Fla., purchased seven rifle-rated units.  Currently, there are over 400 Mobile Defensive Fighting Positions (MDFPs) in the field, 340 of which are in Iraq.

There are also units at the Nine Mile nuclear power plant and 16 located at the entrance to the Pentagon.  “I know they are being used to save lives, which is a great feeling,” White says.

He also makes an effort to outsource manufacturing work locally.
“Instead of buying a lot of capital equipment and competing with struggling local sheet-metal shops, we keep them busy and when we are slow, no one gets laid off,” White says.  “So it is really good plan for us and for the local manufacturers.”

White outsources to five Syracuse-based companies, including Falso Metal Fabricating Co.; Vance Metal Fabricators, Inc.; and DMI Productions.  During busy times, Defenshield has employed regional sheet-metal shops from Buffalo to the Mohawk Valley.

The company made a recent sale of 240 units to the Marine Corps for over $2 million.  The units were manufactured in two weeks.
“We do the design, research, and development here,” White says.  “Syracuse-based Bond, Schoeneck & King, LLP, helped us to secure a patent for the MDFP.”

White designed the unit to be easily fabricated, with a single piece of laser-cut steel acting as a base.  The MDFPs sold to the Marine Corps feature a supplemental armor plate to stop rifle rounds and small arms fire.

Defenshield employs five people, and White is looking to hire a sales person in the Washington, D.C. area to service the company’s main customer base.
“We sell primarily to the U.S. military, Department of State and Department of Homeland Security,” White says.  “Our Department of State certification allows us to sell to government [agencies] and foreign consulates.”

White, however, wants to expand beyond the government sector.
“The market is huge, because the units are useful anywhere there is an entry-control point,” he says.  “We are looking at markets like aviation security checkpoints and casinos.”

White owns 84 percent of Defenshield which is a closely held New York State S corporation.  The company has tripled sales every year it has been in business, and White says sales for 2006 tripled the previous year’s total within the first two months.  He is projecting sales of $5 million this year.

“We recently hired Commonwealth Consulting Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm to market Defenshield products,” White says.  “They have been so successful that I am looking to hire a production manager and engineer here in Syracuse, so I can spend more time in Washington, D.C.”

The MDFP has filled a niche between hand-held tactical tools and tanks, in a large and highly competitive market for protective equipment.  White says the portability, head-to-toe protection, economic viability, and customized features of the MDFP’s have made them attractive to government customers.

We build each unit to specification,” White says.  “The majority of units currently in Iraq are 76 inches tall and 36 inches wide, with ATV tires so one person can push the unit in unproven terrain.”  The units lack motors and batteries – to eliminate the chances of mechanical failure – and range from 250 pounds to 900 pounds.

Defenshield also uses a process called camography, in which a combination of photography and camouflage overlay is added to each unit, to mimic the environment in which the unit will be placed.

White employs the local Image Press to transfer the pictures to the units.
“On July 24, we shipped a unit to the Prince William County Sheriff’s Department for use in the court house,” White says.  “We added a wood grain finish so the unit looks like a podium or desk and not out of place in the setting.”

After starting the business in a living room, White is looking to expand Defenshield for the second time in 2006, by leasing a larger space from Steve Oliva, a local real-estate developer who owns the company’s current 800 square foot offices at 6700 Old Collamer Road in DeWitt.

We want 2,000 square feet of office space and an additional 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of storage,” White explains.

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