In step toward inclusion, US Army offers women armor that fits

as a step towards inclusion


Army Captain. Kim Pierre-Zamora still has the vest that protected her from being injured when she entered basic training many years ago. The medium-sized vest was too heavy and made it hard for Kim Pierre-Zamora to bend down to grab something.

” Whenever I attempted to move, or try to shoulder or shoot at a pop up range very quickly, I had to physically grab the vest to lift it and carry my weapon,” Ms. PierreZamora stated.

This is a frequent complaint of small-stature soldiers who struggle with bulky armor from the two decades spent in wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has started to offer armor in additional sizes, including extra short and short. You can adjust the armor in many ways so that soldiers move more quickly and with greater freedom.

The “modular-scalable vest” has been distributed to over 4 ,500 troops in Fort Bragg’s 82nd Army Division, North Carolina. It was distributed during the last few weeks. New versions of combat shirts for female soldiers will also be available. These shirts can only be given to soldiers who are deployed.

Army researches have worked for many years to create lighter, more comfortable combat gear.

Initially, the effort to add more sizes was in response to complaints from female soldiers, who are increasingly moving into combat jobs previously open only to men. Women deployed more often to war zones and found they were smaller and shorter than men. They needed armor that allowed for wider shoulders and hips, and allows them to wear helmets that allow for a narrower bust.

The Army decided to make vests that were unisex early on. The decision, said Lt. Col. Stephen Miller, was based on the belief that smaller male soldiers who might need a short or small sized vest would refuse to take anything that was “stamped female.”

He’s product manager for soldier protective equipment at PEO Soldier, an Army organization that coordinates the fielding of armor, weapons, and other equipment. This move was a huge success.

Nearly 25% and 1 ,200 nd Army soldiers have received armor in these three sizes so far, according to Ms. Pierre-Zamora who is an assistant product manager at PEO Soldier. One ,200, of the 100 were women.

Five other sizes are available: extra small, medium and large .

Ms. Pierre-Zamora stated that the short and long version fit more soldiers. She said, for example that she appears to be the same height as another female soldier. She said that she wears a small while the soldier she is comparing her to wears a small.

“Outwardly we both look like we’re about the same size, but her torso is a little bit shorter than mine,” she said.

The vest allows soldiers to transport the additional ballistic armor plates, which can be added for protection. You can shift the soft pockets holding the plates up so that they do not rest on women’s hip bones. This prevents them from being able to move quickly and easily. You can adjust the shoulder straps.

The small, longer version of this vest is more suitable for some men who are smaller.

“There were many small men wearing vests that were too large for them,” Lt. Col. Miller stated .

Lt. Col. Miller claimed he was among them. He said that he had been given either a large or medium size in the past. But he was given a size small in the new version “because someone who knew what they were doing fitted me for it, and said, ‘No, the way the MSV [modular scalable vest] fits, this is where it goes.'”

Another soldier he knows, he said, is more than 6 feet tall, but is also very thin. He has always gotten either a large or a medium based on his height, and how long he needs. But he is now using the short-length version of the newly released sizes.

The new combat shirt has a version that is specifically designed for female soldiers. Its problem wasn’t the size, but the shape. According to Lt. Col. Miller, the new version has shorter sleeves and flared at the bottom. It also provides protection around the breasts.

The new shirt, he stated, solved the issue that male soldiers experienced with their shirt hanging up above their hips. Women with a more straight body can still purchase the unisex version.

Acknowledging that complaints about the Army’s body armor have been circulating for years, Lt. Col. Miller said it took time to find vendors who could change the size and shape of the ballistic plates, while also making them lighter and effective in protecting soldiers from blasts.

” Stopping bullets can be a complicated problem,” said Lt. Col. Miller. “It’s really taken a lot of deliberate effort to adapt the system to something that weighs less, gets after a better form factor, as well as to get after the soldiers who weren’t specifically accounted for in the previous systems.”

The major difficulty, he said, was cutting the weight of the plates. They are about one pound lighter than the old ones. He said that only two vendors have met their weight goals so far without having to sacrifice protection.

Eventually, more than 6,000 soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division’s three brigades are expected to get the new armor. According to Lt. Col. Miller, each soldier receives a custom-fitted suit by skilled personnel. Soldiers go through a 30-minute class to learn how the armor can be adjusted.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.