Body Armor for Women: Pentagon Is Pushed to Find Something That Fits
Body armor for US troops in Iraq was often of poor quality. Men could buy a better product online, but for women exposed to war’s dangers, there was nothing that fit.
When Natasha Young deployed to Iraq in 2007, she was the gunnery sergeant for a Marine Corps Explosive Ordinance Device company, responsible for delivering much-needed supplies to units throughout violent Anbar Province in western Iraq.
Body armor had been in tight supply during her first deployment to Iraq in 2005. But by 2007, the issue was quality, says Ms. Young, who finished her Marine Corps career in 2011 as a staff sergeant with 12 years of service.
“The stuff that you could buy online, on the commercial market, had a better safety rating, more coverage, a better fit,” she says.
This was doubly true for female troops using military-issued body armor.
“It’s not designed for a woman, so it’s uncomfortable and it fits improperly,” adds Young.
Before she deployed to war, she searched websites to find better bullet-proof vests for women, but to no avail. Her male counterparts frequently found lighter, more protective armor to purchase before they went to war, but there was none to be found for women.