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Posted at 01:13 PM ET, 05/17/2012

House Armed Services panel prods military on body armor for women

Capt. Sara Rodriguez of the 101st Airborne Division, during training at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Kristin M. Hall - AP)
The old advertising slogan, “strong enough for a man, but made for a woman” sure doesn’t apply to the military’s body armor. Seems the gear that protects soldiers from all kinds of nasty stuff isn’t exactly made with a woman’s curves in mind—and that’s causing problems as more women take on combat roles.

But never fear, ladies in arms! The House Armed Services Committee feels your pain—well, not literally, but, hey, at least they’re working on it. The committee praised the Army for its attention to the issue, and has directed the Secretary of the Army to conduct an assessment of whether there’s an “operational need” for gear tailored to women.

The dearth of female-friendly military gear is nothing new: there’s long been griping about maternity versions of the branches’ uniforms. And women have found that that the body armor created with men in mind--that’s increasingly being worn by women in war zones in Afghanistan-- is often too big, disproportionately fitting, and doesn’t accommodate their figures.

In the panel’s report accompanying the FY 2013 defense-authorization bill, the Armed Services committee directs the Army Secretary to brief congressional committees within six months about its progress on protective equipment for female soldiers. They note that the budget request included $15 million to develop better protective gear and an additional $11.9 million to create prototypes.

By  |  01:13 PM ET, 05/17/2012

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