US Rep Tom Allen has blasted the Pentagon following reports that troops serving in Iraq are without the latest protective body armour.

Allen, D-Maine, says Maine-based reserve and National Guard units have been deployed without the Interceptor vests which have removable ceramic plates in the front and back that can stop bullets.

Allen said: "The response [from the Pentagon] has been that not everyone is on the front lines. But all of our troops are on the front lines in Iraq. That's why this is so disturbing."

Other congressmen have also denounced the Pentagon, saying as many as a quarter of the 130,000 troops in Iraq lack the best vests because of a sluggish supply chain.

Relatives of some soldiers have resorted to buying body armour in the United States and shipping it to their troops.

Although Congress earlier this year approved funding that would pay for 30,000 more vests for military personnel in Iraq Allen is calling for an investigation into how the US entered a war without manufacturing a sufficient amount of body armour.