Some 300 male soldiers wore the new “Army Combat Uniform — Alternate” last month on bases in Georgia and Texas to fit-test the garments. Results are expected next month, according to officials at the Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Va.
The uniform — with narrower shoulders, a slightly tapered waist, a slightly flared hip, a more spacious seat and an elastic waist — has been in the works for three years. The Army Uniform Board approved funding to research a female-only uniform in 2009.
What male soldier would let his buddies know he was wearing “female” ACUs?
One the one hand, the idea of an ACU tailored to women makes sense. Women are just built differently. But the converse side is that this will impose an even greater burden on logistics to stock appropriate sizes in war stocks and in theater.
The move to make body armor fit for women, while imposing that same logistical burden, makes more sense, as fit of body armor is far more about utility than mere appearance.
On a side note, the Marines, faced with the problem of lots of Marines suffering burns in combat, took a simple solution. They put just about everybody in theater into nomex flight suits. Flight suits cost a lot, and weren’t sturdy enough to long withstand the hardships of life outside the wire. But what they did do was provide excellent protection against burns. A high replacement rate was a small burden to bear. And if they didn’t look terribly sharp, that was OK as well.