Right-sizing the force: US army now offers armour in all shapes – Times of India


WASHINGTON: Army Captain Kim Pierre-Zamora remembers the protective vest she was issued when she went to basic training a number of years ago. It was a size medium that hung down too far and made it difficult for her to even bend over to pick up something.
“Whenever I tried to move or tried to shoulder my weapon or shoot on a popup range really quickly, I would have to physically pick up the vest and move it in order to shoulder my weapon,” Pierre-Zamora said. It’s a common complaint from female soldiers and small-stature men who have struggled with the bulky armour. But in recent weeks, the US army for the first time has begun handing out armour in three additional sizes: extra small short, small short and small long. The armour can be adjusted in multiple ways to fit better and allow soldiers to move faster and more freely.
Over the past few weeks, the “modular scalable vest” has been distributed to over 4,500 soldiers so far. Female soldiers also will be able to get new versions of the combat shirt more tailored for a woman’s shape. Pierre-Zamora said the new short and long versions fit many soldiers better. As an example, she said she and another female soldier appear to be about the same size. But, she said she wears an extra small, while the other soldier wears an extra small short.“Outwardly we both look like we the same size, but her torso is shorter than mine.”
Initially, the effort to add more sizes was in response to complaints from female soldiers. As more women deployed to a war zone, they often found that they were shorter and smaller than many of the men and needed armour that allows for narrower shoulders, a bust and hips. Early on, however, the army made the decision to make the vests unisex. 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.”
Acknowledging that complaints about the army’s armour have been circulating for years, 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.

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