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Air Force offering better fitting armor for female defenders

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Airman 1st Class Samantha Boyer, of the 55th Security Forces Squadron, wears new body armor specifically designed for women while standing guard on the Northwest end of the Martin Bomber building at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. in June. Photo by L. Cunningham/U.S. Air Force
Airman 1st Class Samantha Boyer, of the 55th Security Forces Squadron, wears new body armor specifically designed for women while standing guard on the Northwest end of the Martin Bomber building at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. in June. Photo by L. Cunningham/U.S. Air Force

July 8 (UPI) -- Female defenders at the 55th Security Forces Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base received the first batch of new body armor for female defenders, the Air Force announced on Thursday.

The new armor will replace tactical vests that suit different chest sizes but are flat and not designed for female bodies.

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"The standard vest was very loose and when you get into a situation where you need to run, it isn't form-fitting, so things move and get jostled around easily," 1st Lt. Madison Wilke said in a press release on Thursday.

"The standard vest really had no pressure or tight fit in the upper chest area," Wilke said.

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Each vest costs approximately $1,200, is more snug, can be adjusted with a snap buckle and has curved chest plates to better accommodate the female shape, the branch said.

Female officers can switch to the new armor or keep the standard vest.

"Wearing proper fitting safety gear is important for the health, comfort level and safety for day-to-day operations, such as driving around in patrol cars, standing guard at the Offutt gates or aircraft, or handling a military working dog," officials said in the press release.

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"These situations require flexibility and quick response movements for a defender to do the job and maintain the overall mission," the release said.

The Air Force in January also changed uniform guidance to allow women to wear their hair longer, with bangs and in two braids or in a single ponytail, a move the Army followed in May with changes to its own guidance.

The U.S. Marine Corps also announced in April that maternity uniforms will be available this month.

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