America's military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq has gone on for a decade and change now, and we've finally gotten far enough down on our checklist to address a pretty glaring oversight: we kindasorta forgot to make woman-specific body armor. Whoopsie-daisy.
Thankfully, after years of bureaucratic shuffling and faxing and stamping and budgeting, the first female body armor prototypes are about to be battlefield tested for the first time, by women in the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The idea for making battlefield clothing specifically for women didn't come until 2009, which is an impressively long time for dudes running the military to remain blissfully unaware that maybe ladies need different rigid clothing for their torsos than men because of boobs and other factors. Apparently the old armor they used was restrictive, made it difficult for them to hold guns or squeeze through small spaces, and was fashioned in a way that made it difficult for them to bend over and pick things off the ground.
Ugh, you complainers. Like you need to shoot or bend in the Army.
The new vests are lighter, shorter, and acknowledge the existence of breasts. Female soldiers seem to like them, too.
Spc. Gilliann Campbell, 22, called the new body armor "a dream" compared to the old vests. A former gymnast, Campbell said she feels much more flexible in the new vests and demonstrated that with a couple of cartwheels.
"I remember as a joke, my friends tipped me upside down and my old armor fell right off me. It didn't fit me at all. But with this, I did a cartwheel when I first got it and it did not move at all," she said.
Nineteen women will test this first prototype, but if all goes well, the vest will go into wider production for the rest of the military.