As the American military starts allowing women to fight on the front lines of combat, more attention is being paid to how those women can best protect themselves. Namely, body armor. Since only men have been allowed in combat roles, there has never been any consideration for fitting body armor to the female form. While progress is still being made on uniforms (including those for pregnant members of the military), at least we know that the House Armed Services Committee is looking into things on the protective front.
The committee has sent an official letter to the secretary of the Army, John McHugh, asking to keep them updated on progress concerning body armor that is specifically made for women. Female soldiers currently have body armor, but it’s made for men. And, if you have eyeballs, you know that in general, women are 1. smaller than men, and 2. are differently shaped than men. And as it’s been said before, it’s not a matter of special treatment or fashion– it’s about having something that was not meant for someone else. As in, female soldiers do not want to show off their hips on the battlefield, but they’d like something that fits them (without being ill-fitting on the bottom or elsewhere).
The House committee has requested “$15 million to develop better protective gear and an additional $11.9 million to create prototypes” as part of the budget and is requesting a response from McHugh in a period of six months on whether there is an “operational” need to develop different gear for women. Clearly, most people — including female soldiers — know the answer is “affirmative.”
This is a military that has (for the most part) welcomed change when it came to accommodating soldiers that were not straight males. I think it’s safe to say that McHugh and the Army will be giving this some serious thought in the coming months, and not begrudgingly.
(via Washington Post)
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