Female Soldiers Need Specialized Protective Body Armor
In today’s ever changing world, people who serve in the United States military face extreme danger. Danger is eminent for both men and women when deployed abroad. For women the threat is even more apparent because protective vests were designed for a man’s body. Over a decade into the war against the Taliban, women’s protective gear is finally being developed. Some think perhaps a little too late, considering women have been deployed since the very start of the war.
The major issue women faced with the standard issued protective body armor was the fact that they had breasts and hips. Women’s bodies are often much smaller than their male counterparts. The issues gear would often weigh them down and inhibit body movement. When someone is in the field body movement is the most important function a solder has. “Sgt. Bobbie Crawford, who is 5 feet 6 inches and weighs just over 100 pounds, said she struggled to maneuver wearing body armor when she served in Afghanistan in 2010 as part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.” Gear designed for men made it hard for women to get in and out of patrol vehicles, use their weapons, and even simple movements like crouch down. Crawford said, “It rubbed on my hips and limited my mobility…You definitely had to find a lot of workarounds, you had to learn to become creative.” How is that fair for women, having to alter either their bodies or gear to make it work. A temporary fix does not solve the problem. In 2012 there was new hard armor plate and soft armor being designed for women, however now in 2013, very little has been resolved.
Woman being allowed in combat is a fairly new occurrence. Women were typically banned from conventional combat jobs within the military. However that was not always the case. Women were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in positions that were considered to be low risk. Reports show that at least eighty-one female service members have died in hostile incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. While that number might be low considering the male casualty rate, saying that their positions were considered safe is an understatement. Women faced many of the same dangers as men, if not more in some cases. “Female soldiers find themselves doing the same kinds of missions that male soldiers are doing.” Women had the vulnerability of not only getting shot due to the plates not fitting snuggly over the chest, but captured, raped, and beaten to death. Women soldiers had a much higher risk of capture or death due to their gear constraints. The Army’s program manager for soldier protection and individual equipment said “It is incredibly important to optimize their body armor.” If the program coordinator could identify the importance of a soldiers body armor, why do women today still wear armor designed for men?
Women have been complaining for years about the comfort of the hard armor plates. Women would face constant discomfort;...