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A fitting uniform for female soldiers

June 1st, 2011 / By: / Advanced Textiles, Industry News

Several hundred female U.S. Army troops are testing a new combat uniform for women, after a 2009 report by the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services found that women soldiers received “poor quality or outdated equipment, lack of necessary equipment, tardy issue of equipment and equipment not sized or designed for women.” Female troops are 20 percent more likely than men to report musculoskeletal disorders (badly fitting body armor), urinary problems or dehydration (no easy way to use the bathroom) and “physical performance degradation” from body armor with long arms, kneepads in the wrong location or a uniform too loose or too tight. Engineers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering center in Massachusetts are measuring 13,000 soldiers, including 5,000 women, to better gauge body shapes and redesign the standard “one size fits all” body armor. Approximately 14 percent of all service members are women, and an estimated 220,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many in combat or near-combat roles.

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