FORT STEWART, Ga. — Prior to any deployment, Soldiers learn the ins and outs of every piece of their equipment and gear they have before they deploy.

And it is no different for Soldiers assigned to Headquarters Operations Company, Special Troops Battalion, who were recently issued the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, July 9.

The IOTV is one of the latest advancements in military gear designed to better provide body armor coverage on a Soldiers body. Like most gear, the IOTV is used to help protect Soldiers while in a combat situation and also designed for emergency removal.

“The key improvement over the old (Outer Tactical Vest) is that (Soldiers) are able to extract themselves from the vest quickly as opposed to maybe having to cut themselves free from the vest if it ever gets snagged on something or there in a situation where they just can’t unstuck,” said Terence Hensey, new equipment training instructor.

Though new, the vest still has the weave slots making most of the pouches from the OTV compatible with the IOTV, which makes it easier for Soldiers to switch to the IOTV.

“Items that carry forward from the old vest are the enhanced small arm protective inserts, the sappy plates, side plates,” Hensey said. “The most current plates offer protection against armor piercing 7.62 rounds.”

With improvements on IOTV, Soldiers are getting issued new the vest designed to better protect their torso area.

The weight of the vest is designed to be carried by the lower abdomen, hips and thighs as opposed to hanging off the shoulders and spine, Hensey said.

“The older vest didn’t fit in a way that was very comfortable to the Soldiers and they found that most of the weight of the vest was carried by the shoulders and the spine,” he said.

“This vest comes in 11 different sizes and it fits much better, adjust much better to the Soldier who wears it.”

After being issued the IOTV, STB Soldiers received a class on how to fit, wear and maintain their vest.

Weighing three to six pounds less than the OTV, most Soldiers going through the class think the IOTV is a good vest.

“They like the way it wears, it wears (better),” Hensey said. “They feel that they will be able to actually sight with their weapon better and fire their weapon better with this system.”

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos E. Rodriguez, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division Provost Marshall Office as a operations noncommissioned officer, said that the IOTV is a great improvement on weight and wear than previous vests.

“This vest is light and fits properly for today’s urban type movement,” Rodriguez said. “(It is) light, covers more vital area, and it moves with you.”

The Santurce, Puerto Rico, native, also believed that it helps Soldiers better understand the vest when also helps being shown the proper way to wear the vest.

“For it to fit and be properly worn for protection you must know exactly how to wear it properly,” Rodriguez said.

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