As more and more women join the infantry, the military has decided it would be best to redesign their gear to better suit the female gender. This includes changing their protective gear to accommodate long hair pulled back into a bun.
In presentations made to the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services representatives from the Army and Marine Corps announced that both branches are redesigning their protective gear to ensure a proper and secure fit on women who have their hair in a bun.
Army Lt. Col. Ginger L. Whitehead, who manages Soldier Protective Equipment, put together a presentation featuring the recently redesigned Female Improved Outer Tactical Vest (FIOTV). The vest has a yoke-and-collar configuration that curves down in the back to better fit women with hair buns. The new vest design also provides women with improved ballistic protection.
According to the presentation, female soldiers have been offering their feedback, which has led to significant improvements in helmet design.
They expressed dissatisfaction with how the X-Back configuration of the chinstrap holder does not accommodate their hair buns. The straps are in the wrong places so the helmet never fits their head very securely. As a result of this type of feedback, the Army is ready to introduce an H-Back configuration with an open space to provide room for a bun.
The presentation featured the H-Back solution as well as new and improved retention straps. The new straps are configured to provide women with better peripheral vision while keeping their earlobes from getting cut. Women in uniform are enthusiastically expressing their approval of these improvements.
Female soldiers have also been giving their feedback on the protective equipment they’ve been using and testing out new models as well. This is in effect, a human factors evaluation (HFE) process. As a result, the Army now has a new design for body armor specifically for women.
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