"We have decided we have to expedite the new tourniquets," Virginia Stephanakis, a spokeswoman for the Army surgeon general, said last week.
In an article March 6, The Sun described a lack of tourniquets among soldiers in the field and delays in supplying them.
Stephanakis had no immediate details on the number of tourniquets or a timetable by which they will be sent to U.S. troops, who number about 150,000 in Iraq and about 20,000 in Afghanistan.
The Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, based at Fort Belvoir, Va., whose mission is to arm and equip soldiers, will handle the purchase and distribution, she said.
A committee of military doctors urged in February 2003 that every soldier carry one of the $20 medical devices, a nylon and plastic version of the simple cloth-and-stick device armies have used to stop bleeding for centuries.
But many don't, and some have bled to death from wounds on which a tourniquet might have been effective, according to more than a dozen military doctors and medical specialists interviewed by The Sun.
The U.S. Central Command, which oversees combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, issued a directive Jan. 6 requiring all soldiers to carry a modern tourniquet.
However, compliance was left up to individual units, and many have not acquired the devices.
Three weeks ago, the Army's surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, approved a new first-aid kit for soldiers that includes a modern tourniquet and other life-saving equipment.
But the training manual was still being written and the kits were expected to be field tested, a process expected to take months.
Now, Stephanakis said that the tourniquets would be sent without waiting for the field testing of the new first-aid kits.
The Army's decision comes after two Senate Democrats, Carl Levin of Michigan and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, wrote to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asking for a review of the issue and a timetable for outfitting all soldiers with the tourniquet in light of the article in The Sun.
"The experts have determined that putting a life-saving tourniquet in the hands of every soldier is a vital life-saving measure," the two senators wrote. "Holding up the fielding of a life-saving medical kit simply to optimize its carrying pouch suggests a mindset oblivious to the wartime needs of our soldiers."
Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, testifying before a Senate appropriations subcommittee last week, promised to provide a detailed report to the Senate on the tourniquets.
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, said he was unaware that some troops don't have the tourniquets, adding, "I see no reason why there should be any shortage."