In 2003 the US military ordered The Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) from Aearo Technologies and in 2008, 3M acquired Aearo Technologies and all its liabilities for 1.2 Billion dollars.
Over the years between 2003 and 2015, 3M supplied a maximum of 2.2 million ear plugs to the US military to use in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. 3M was an exclusive supplier for the US military for earplugs. The product was only sold to the military.
In 2016 a Whistleblower lawsuit was filed under the “False Claims Act” by a competing Ear Plug manufacturer Moldex Metric Inc. In the complaint, it’s alleged that 3M and Aearo Technologies both knew the Earplugs where defective and they even set up fraud testing to comply with the US military standards that they promised when they accepted the order.
In 2018 a settlement was announced between 3M and the Department of Justice for 9.1 Million dollars.
From 2003-2015 there were around 1,562,190 active infantrymen (20% of US Military) deployed to US war zones.