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Whitehouse highlights anti-counterfeiting effort

December 2, 2011
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PORTSMOUTH, R.I.—Rhode Island's junior U.S. senator on Friday highlighted the federal government's effort to rid the market of counterfeit military products with a visit to a Portsmouth company working on that front.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse paid a visit to A2B Tracking Solutions, which manufactures unique identification plates for the military as well as tracking software it says can help keep counterfeit products out of the Pentagon's supply chain.

The Senate this week approved the Combating Military Counterfeits Act, introduced by the Rhode Island Democrat earlier this year, as part of an amendment to the Defense Department authorization.

The bill increases penalties for those who engage in trafficking of counterfeit military products, including everything from aircraft parts to body armor.

"It's intended to get the attention of people who see this right now as a profit opportunity," Whitehouse told The Associated Press.

Whitehouse said the Defense Department has estimated that between 5 and 15 percent of weapons systems' reliability is lost to counterfeit infiltration.

A2B Tracking Solutions President Peter Collins says the counterfeit items not only pose a safety issue for troops but are also costly to the military, which has to find and replace them.

Collins's firm has had Defense Department contracts worth $100 million since 2005.

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