101st Airborne Division female Soldiers first to test prototype body armor.

Spc. Gilliann Campbell, a Female Engagement team Soldier with 1st…

Spc. Gilliann Campbell, a Female Engagement team Soldier with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), adjusts the collar of her Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest, Aug. 21, 2012, at Fort Campbell, Ky. Campbell is one of 19 female Soldiers from the 101st to participate in the fielding of this vest designed specifically for the needs of Army women. Campbell said it was already easier to pick up items off the ground in the shorter and less bulky vest. Photo Credit: Megan Locke Simpson, Courier staff

While advances in female Army Combat Uniforms are already available, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) first suggested changes be made to Improved Outer Tactical Vests, or IOTVs, for women in 2009.

These IOTVs hold a Soldier’s body armor plates. Much of the need for specific changes comes from the fit of the IOTVs on women, who are generally shorter and curvier than their male counterparts.

“They ride up on the female’s hips, and it’s very hard for us to move,” said Spc. Arielle Mailloux, with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “During PT we’ll have to wear it and then go running, and it gives bruises on our hips.”

As a result of the suggestions of the 101st, officials from the Project Manager Soldier Protective Equipment Office and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center came together to design a better-equipped vest for women.

With more women from the 101st Airborne Division scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this year, Mailloux expects the redesigned IOTV would help these Soldiers perform their jobs better — especially in the case of Female Engagement Team members like herself.

Read the rest of Megan Locke Simpson Fort Campbell Courier report here.

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  • I think it’s GREAT that the U.S. military is covering” ALL of their personnel on active duty in “Hot Zones”. Tax money WELL SPENT! Do the job and come home safely, also a very BIG thank you to women in combat. Garry “G” Alconera