cover image

Shattered Minds

How the Pentagon Fails Our Troops with Faulty Helmets

Robert H. Bauman

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 03/2019
Pages: 336
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9781640121652


Shattered Minds is the first book to investigate how American military bureaucracies have let our troops down by failing to upgrade one of the most important pieces of personal safety equipment: the combat helmet. Two longtime employees of North Dakota defense contractor Sioux Manufacturing discovered that the required density of the Kevlar material woven into the netting of combat helmets was being shorted. After bringing their discovery to the attention of management, their boss, rather than cleaning up the illegal practice, accused them of having an adulterous affair. Both employees were fired, leading to a lawsuit and a court judgment in their favor that eventually brought the company's bad-faith practices to light. Around the same time, a separate whistleblower, a retired Navy doctor, was pulled into a bizarre struggle with Army and Marine bureaucracies when he discovered from his Marine grandson that the protective webbing inside the military helmets was inadequate. Why was the military so resistant to upgrading the most essential piece of gear to protect soldiers from traumatic brain injury? Interweaving these two whistleblower stories, Robert H. Bauman and Dina Rasor explain why the military, despite news coverage and congressional hearings on the faulty helmet, continued to do the indefensible. They also suggest how the public, the press, and military institutions can remedy the problem to give U.S. troops effective helmets when serving to protect their country.  


Robert H. Bauman is a former investigator for the Naval Investigative Service and Defense Criminal Investigative Service. He co-founded the Bauman and Rasor Group with Dina Rasor. He is the coauthor with Rasor of Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War. Dina Rasor is an investigator, journalist, and author. She founded the Project on Military Procurement (now called the Project on Government Oversight) to serve as a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog over military and related government spending. She has also worked with whistleblowers on fraud suits and authored a column on government solutions. She is the author of The Pentagon Underground and Pentagon Solutions: How to Actually Get Control of Defense Spending.  


"Riveting and horrifying. We are used to learning about multibillion dollar defense procurement scandals, but that our military leadership could not, or would not, provide troops on the front lines with something as basic as an effective helmet is truly shocking. Shattered Minds should be required reading for Congress, the press, and concerned citizens everywhere."—Andrew Cockburn, Washington editor for Harper's

"You go to war with the helmet you have, not the one you wish you had. . . . [This is] the infuriating story of how a sclerotic U.S. military bureaucracy has failed to protect young troops from traumatic brain injury after they answered their nation's call in the wake of 9/11. For anyone who has ever worn a U.S. military helmet, or loved someone who has, this book will hurt your head. For the rest of us, it's a traumatic heart injury."—Mark Thompson, former reporter for Time 

"Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman are some of the most experienced and tenacious advocates in America. Year after year, Dina and Bob have been sounding the alarm and demanding accountability on behalf of our troops and veterans. They have changed policies and helped save lives. And they always have our back. Dina's and Bob's critical voices must be heard—now more than ever."—Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts