Fort Campbell, KY – Women have been in the military for a long time now. It was for some time a hard battle just to be able to go into battle. So it’s taken even longer to get the right equipment to help them become better soldiers.
Female soldiers march step for step with the men and carry the same equipment as their male counterparts but one thing has been a deterrent, the ill-fitting body armor.
Of course, women are built different then men, ergo, body armor meant for men, even the smallest size, is still not aligned for the female body.
The female soldiers getting ready to deploy from Fort Campbell in the next few months, have been training with the newly designed body armor, reformed for their body types.
According to Maj. Joe Dillon, assistant product manager for PM Soldier Protective Equipment, the 101st Airborne Division asked the company what they could do to improve the fit and function of the body armor for female soldiers.
After “fit studies” here and abroad and after interviewing female personnel, they determined there were problems with the length and the adjustability of the vest,, and the ability to fire their weapons with the vests on.
They came up with the GEN 2 version of the vest and are even now working on improving that vest with the new GEN 3 vest made especially for small statured female soldiers.
The new vests have the same protection as the old vests but the fit is changed to better fit the female anatomy.
19 female soldiers, who are deploying soon, took part in the training exercise today to give PM Soldier Protective Equipment personnel feedback about the new vests so they could make any necessary changes before they went into full scale production for the rest of the Army.
When asked about the new body armor, female soldier, SPC Gillian Campbell said, “It’s a dream compared to the old vest. I can touch my toes, it’s easier to put on, it doesn’t fall off while doing all the getting up and down and running we have to do.” She added, “As a joke, my friends would pick me upside down and the old vest would fall off of me. Now I can do cartwheels and it stays on.
SPC Campbell actually did a cartwheel for the assembled media to prove her point.
When asked if she felt safer with the new vest, SPC Campbell said, “I do, I feel safer in my abilities, because it lets me do what I need to do as a soldier. A soldier in the US Army is supposed to be physically fit, ready to do everything. With my other armor I had a fear in the back of my head that I couldn’t perform to the best of my abilities. Now, I can.”