Unisex uniforms offered as Army opens closed units, jobs to women

U.S. ARMY ILLUSTRATION
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A new combat uniform with special consideration to the female body is now available at Fort Gordon, almost a month after the Army announced plans to open all units and military jobs to women by 2016.

Wesley Brown
Reporter
Twitter: @mega_chron
E-mail | 706-823-3221

The March debut of the Combat Uniform-Alter­nate is the first in a series of moves the Army hopes to make in the next three years to help female soldiers feel like more professional members, officials said.

With narrower shoulders, a slightly tapered waist and a more spacious seat, the unisex clothing line has been in the works since 2009 and is being issued to all installations – except Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. – for men and women with a smaller or more slender body.

Soldiers will soon be able to order the new uniform at the Fort Gordon Mili­tary Clothing store, according to Stefan Marks, the post
exchange’s general manager.

Marks said all 16 sizes of the new line will be available to try on at the store in two to three weeks.

“After a soldier finds the right fit, they may place an order for the uniform, which will then be delivered to the store,” Marks said.

Unlike the decades-old Army combat uniform, which comes in 36 sizes and was designed principally by men for men, the alternate clothing line was created to fit a broader range of body types, officials say.

The trousers feature wider areas at the hips, waist and backside; elastic around the waistband instead of pull string; adjusted pockets and knee-pad inserts; and a shortened rise in pants.

The jackets include adjusted rank and name tape positioning, adjusted pockets and elbow-pad inserts, slimmer shoulders, a thinner and more fitted waist, and a longer and wider coat bottom.

Also, buttons are replacing the fabric fastener pockets.

According to a 2008 Army focus group report, “unisex” combat uniforms designed for men fit many women badly in the shoulders, bust, hips and crotch and left many buying larger sizes.

The Army designed a solution and had 400 active-duty and 200 National Guard and Reserve female soldiers fit-test the line in 2011.

Eighty-six percent said the coat fit better and 71 percent said the trousers fit better, Maj. Laverne Stanley, the assistant product manager of soldier clothing and individual equipment, said in a statement.

“An overwhelming majority, 94 percent of all respondents, said that the cut of the new ACU-A allowed them to present a better military appearance,” she said.

Roughly one in every six soldiers is a woman, and
last month, the Army announced that the ratio likely will increase by early 2014,
when the service will continue its efforts to open all closed units and military occupational specialties to women.

In 2012, the Army opened 14,000 positions in closed units to female soldiers, and this year, senior leadership has signaled its intent to open an additional 6,000 infantry, armor and field artillery positions before accepting female applicants into reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting and acquisition battalions.

The Army is planning to develop gender-neutral standards to ensure all
soldiers have fair access to jobs.

Beginning in July 2014, the Army will open military occupational specialties within its engineer branch then follow up with positions in its field artillery, armor and infantry branches.

The changes will lead to more than 116,800 new opportunities for women in the Army.

The service said it is developing body armor, flight suits and physical training uniforms for women.

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corgimom
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corgimom 07/15/13 - 08:53 pm
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2
"The Army is planning to

"The Army is planning to develop gender-neutral standards to ensure all soldiers have fair access to jobs."

Humble Angela, remember our discussion awhile back? About women in the military and their options, and careers, were very limited?

deestafford
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deestafford 07/15/13 - 10:53 pm
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Yes sir. The enemy will really be scared and respectful of an

Army that has "gender neutral" standards for its combat forces.

Mark my words! One day, on some battlefield, someone child or spouse will die unnecessarily because of some PC horse squeeze to give females "equal opportunity for promotion"!

The purpose of the military is not to give "equal opportunity for promotion". It is to defend the country by killing the enemy and putting females in the Infantry, Rangers, and Special Ops will be detrimental to that mission. Women are not physically capable of handling the rigors of the Infantryman's life. I know. I spent 27 years as an Infantryman to include ground combat service and leadership in Viet Nam. Something none, not one, of the decision makers in Washington has done. Not one!!!

Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 07/16/13 - 06:39 am
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Mark my words!

Mark my words! There are women who are stronger and faster than you ever thought about being. Just remember: Women weren't capable of flying planes. Blacks couldn't handle any of the requirements. You are a relic of a bigoted past that, thankfully, is slowly fading away. I would have thought by the year 2013 we would have conquered the racism, sexism, and all of the other "isms" in this country. Sadly, some still hold on to beliefs that just because of their race, their sex, or some other factor, they are better than someone else. Those who have these beliefs are wrong. They always have been and always will be.

deestafford
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deestafford 07/16/13 - 06:07 pm
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Bod,

How much Infantry combat have you seen? How many women have you trained in combat skills?

I have been in Infantry ground combat. Awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Stars, and Purple Heart among others. During my 27 years in the Army before retiring, as an Infantryman I had been a squad leader, platoon leader, recon platoon leader, commanded three companies, and three battalions. I have trained 1000s of females when they went through basic training at Ft Jackson and trained 1000s more when I was the commander of the Training Command at Ft Jackson. Their bodies cannot handle the rigors of Infantry life.

My observations based on my experience partly laid out above showed me that a female cannot handle being an Infantryman. Don't give me this horse squeeze about flying in combat as an equivalent to ground combat. There is nothing comparable to being an Infantryman on the ground and especially in combat. No matter how technical the equipment becomes the life of the Infantryman remains the same...just one level above that of an animal.

I would submit there is not a decision maker in the chain of command from the Commander in Chief down through those in the Pentagon and below who can match my experience as to women in field training as it relates to the skills required in Infantry combat at all levels. There most likely are some who no longer serve but are not involved in this asinine decision who could match it.

The Army ain't no social equalization organization. It's a war fighting organization. No army in the world has women in its Infantry. Neither will we after the carnage of this decision comes to the surface.

Not only will the lack of ability of the females in the Infantry cost some of them their lives, it will cost some of their comrades theirs because the females were unable to pull their load and do their duty. This is not to be disparaging toward the female gender, only pointing out the truths of nature.

dichotomy
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dichotomy 07/16/13 - 12:37 pm
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"There are women who are

"There are women who are stronger and faster than you ever thought about being."

True. But we are opening combat units up to ALL women. And just like the initial influx of women into the Army in the 70's, and just like our policy of "social promotion" in our public schools in the 60's - Today, instead of making the people MEET the standards, we continually bring the standards down to meet the latest group of Political Correctness people.

deestafford knows what he is talking about. I have lived through the same thing when the Signal Corps was forced to take the brunt of the first large influx of women coming into the Army in the 70's when they opened up a lot of forward deployed support specialties to women. Here is a couple of facts.....a "3 man" crew of women on a signal shelter is NOT equal to a "3 man" crew of men on a signal shelter when deploying to an isolated tactical position. NCOs were forced to scavenge males to "float" around the battlefield to do the physical work of setting up generators, antennae, etc.

Females soldiers in the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, Korea were EXEMPTED from pulling their share of perimeter guard duty because "they might get raped". Consequently the male soldiers pull their share AND the women's share of the guard duty.

And don't fool yourself....this double standard of physical requirement and duty requirements STILL GOES ON. Yes, there are some women who could pull equal wait, but there are many who are drawing the money but cannot perform equally in all aspects of the job......and over protective "shoot themselves in the foot" Army policies make things even worse for the males who have to take up the slack.

triscuit
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triscuit 07/16/13 - 08:47 pm
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Physically, men and women are not equal.

God put those differences in, thankfully. I am a female and feel that intellectually I can hold my ground with any male (or surpass him). But lug ammo and guns, no.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/17/13 - 05:18 am
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"coming into the Army in the

"coming into the Army in the 70's"..."Females soldiers in the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, Korea were EXEMPTED from pulling their share of perimeter guard duty because "they might get raped". Consequently the male soldiers pull their share AND the women's share of the guard duty."

As in, nearly 40 years ago?

I do believe that attitude has changed, Dichotomy. Thank God.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/17/13 - 06:23 am
3
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The military is not a lab for sociology grad students

Its sole purpose is to protect us, not to perform social experiments. Top leaders have lost focus on this and as a result our country is in peril. My fellow Vietnam veteran deestafford posting on here nails it - read his posts.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 07/17/13 - 07:40 am
1
0
I think the military should
Unpublished

all wear dresses. With women's lib and gay lib taking over, I believe it would be the chic thing to do. Heck, al-qaeda might laugh so hard they'd throw down their weapons and just surrender.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/17/13 - 08:05 am
3
0
In the past two years the

In the past two years the Army tested a group of women to see if they could be trained to meet the male physical fitness test standards. NONE of them made it. These women were already very athletic to begin and had volunteered for the challenge. Zilch, not a one.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/17/13 - 08:06 am
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I wonder where they put the

I wonder where they put the zipper?

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/17/13 - 08:20 am
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I have to agree with the men

We do not have the physical strength to do the job.....BUT mentally we can out think them all the time..:)

deestafford
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deestafford 07/17/13 - 09:35 am
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seenitB4

I can't disagree with that.

JaySmith
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JaySmith 07/17/13 - 12:13 pm
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@seenitB4

I don't disagree that there are a lot of situations where the different thought process women bring to the table can be hugely beneficial.

I also do think that there are certain women that are physically capable of meeting current physical requirements, albeit a small number. My fear is that some are expecting women to represent the same proportion in combat units as they do in society, and that cannot be done while keeping current standards.

Having served in the IDF, I have seen women in various combat roles not currently open to them in the US military. Some have done well, some have not.

That being said, deployments and missions in the IDF are very different from the US military, since IDF patrols tend to be very short, and confined in geography, and without the need to carry the loads for extended operations in the field that US soldiers carry.

We have almost zero data on the long-term impact on the female musculoskeletal structure stemming from carrying loads that will well exceed 50% of their body weight over long distances, for extended periods of time, over many years. I'm not saying that there will be problems...I'm saying we don't have the data. Many males serving in combat roles for 15+ years come home with "broken" bodies despite never being wounded by the enemy. I'm talking about chronic muscle, bone, joint and back problems. For women, could the load carried on the hips impact child-bearing after all that time? We don't know.

Again, I'm not saying that women should be kept out because of this, but those who do undertake to join should realize that they are guinea pigs upon whose backs (literally) we will learn how combat service will damage them long-term.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/17/13 - 12:43 pm
0
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We've had women in combat

We've had women in combat roles for a long time...just not in combat arms jobs. I was in the field artillery and we had a few women who went right along with us because they had technical jobs in the tactical operations center with computers and so on. They did everything the male soldiers did except get involved in the physical work of firing the big guns. So to me, this is all about nothing.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/17/13 - 01:04 pm
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Riverman, the military is the

Riverman, the military is the biggest social experiment that our country does. It's been like that for over 50 years.

The military is very closely observed, because as the military goes, so does the country.

Health issues, social issues, education issues, drug issues- it shows up in the military first, then the rest of the country.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/17/13 - 01:08 pm
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With the advances in

With the advances in technology, and the advances in ordnance, computers, and equipment, not to mention air transportation, the ground wars that were fought in Korea and Vietnam would not be repeated today. While all of you that fought in those two wars experienced Hell on Earth, the military learned- it's a good way to get a lot of people killed, with very little gained.

America learns from its mistakes. Slowly, but they learn.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 07/17/13 - 04:50 pm
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The problem with
Unpublished

"out thinking men" is that al-qaeda is not a group of men but vicious animals.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/17/13 - 04:52 pm
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Corgimom

Corgimom said, "Riverman, the military is the biggest social experiment that our country does."

No kidding. They took me on and straightened me out. Some thought that an impossible task.

Darby
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Darby 07/17/13 - 08:51 pm
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Bod - You are up to your old tricks

and clichés again.

"Women weren't capable of flying planes." Nobody ever said that. Who was Amelia Earhart if "they" said that?

Technology has advanced to the point where (If the tech never fails, women can do almost anything a man can do.) Just pray that "IF" never happens.

As for attitudes changing. It's not so much attitudes as political indoctrination and political correctness holding sway.

I can tell you this, if the politicians get their way and coerce the SEALS and Rangers to accept women, they WILL be forced to dramatically lower the standards. There are very few men and NO women that I have ever known who can make that grade.

My Ranger class began with more than 200 students. We graduated 42 total. Many dropped out because of the inability to function (e.g. - planning, writing, presenting/briefing and executing an operations order) after going days without rest or sleep, but most due to the incredible physical stress.

Yes, some women CAN do almost anything a man can do. Always could. But almost, when someone else's life is at stake is not enough.

Our DC "leadership" is doing to our military what neither the British nor Hitler nor any of our more recent enemies were able to do.

I'm just glad to be free of the politics that govern our military today.

If I had my way, for the safety of our nation, election to congress today would be accompanied by a requirement to serve two years minimum in one of our combat arms. (Preferably in a combat environment.)

You'd quickly see an end to the use of our military as a "proving ground" for untested social programs and pet political projects.

Take comfort however, in the fact that when they are done, there will be "jobs" for everyone.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/17/13 - 10:11 pm
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"Many dropped out because of

"Many dropped out because of the inability to function (e.g. - planning, writing, presenting/briefing and executing an operations order) after going days without rest or sleep, but most due to the incredible physical stress. "

I laugh when men say that. They never gave birth to children.

Oh, I think that maybe women might just be a little tougher than you think.

But this-"If I had my way, for the safety of our nation, election to congress today would be accompanied by a requirement to serve two years minimum in one of our combat arms. (Preferably in a combat environment.)"

So, you're saying that if somebody decides to run for Congress in their 40's, 50's or 60's, or older, they couldn't, because they couldn't serve 2 years in combat?

Or if they had a physical disability, like poor eyesight, or flat feet, that would disqualify them for service? Or like my husband, hearing loss? (He was 4-F for the Vietnam draft.) Or people that are conscientious objectors, or whose religion prohibits them fighting in war?

What about people in the combat arms that never see a day of combat? I know lots of people that, during Vietnam, were in Germany, their biggest trauma was getting drunk on German beer.

What about women my age, that were barred from combat arms way back in "the good old days"?

Serving in the military doesn't necessarily make someone a better person. And not serving in the military doesn't necessarily make someone lesser than someone who has.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/17/13 - 10:12 pm
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You know what the saddest

You know what the saddest thing of all is?

Women in the military are far more likely to be raped by an American soldier than by the enemy. FAR more likely.

deestafford
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deestafford 07/17/13 - 11:22 pm
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Let's make a few points here:

No matter how technology develops the role of the Infantryman will change very little. Road marches with heavy packs, climbing mountains with heavy packs, going days on end with little or no sleep, living in the mud and muck of a swamp or jungle, hand to hand with the enemy and the list of tasks goes on.

There was an experiment done with female marine officers who were in fantastic shape physically and mentally beginning Marine Infantry training. One dropped out the first day and the other lasted less than two weeks. The one who last the longer was a marathon runner among other things and she said her body just began to break down and consume itself.

Just a simple task such as road marches would cause a problem because of the 4 inch shorter stride of a female. Assuming march pace of 100 steps per minute, a woman would be 400 inches or 33 feet behind per minute. In 10 minutes the female would be over a football field behind the unit. When on a road march you can't slow down to the weakest person. You have a mission to accomplish and dragging a slow person who is unable to keep up is a henderance to that mission.

Forced marches are faster and tougher and it would kill a female. Don't forget the soldiers are carrying 40-60 pounds or more.

Many men can't meet these standards and don't make the cut for the Infantry.

Please. If you have never been in the Infantry you don't understand the physical and psychological burdens there are in being an Infantry. The female body is not designed to handle the physical requirements.

It has nothing to do with being able to withstand pain. I believe females can withstand pain better than me. It's all about physical capabilities and not reducing any further the military's capabilities to do its job in order to satisfy some political Utopian desire which is unobtainable.

Darby
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Darby 07/18/13 - 10:39 am
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0
"I laugh when men say that. They never

gave birth to children.

Oh, I think that maybe women might just be a little tougher than you think."

.
Now that REALLY IS FUNNY and I'll just bet you were laughing while you wrote it. I'm laughing right now just imagining a woman writing and briefing a combat operations order while her husband holds her hand and stands by yelling PUSH! PUSH!

"So, you're saying that if somebody decides to run for Congress in their 40's, 50's or 60's, or older, they couldn't, because they couldn't serve 2 years in combat?"
.
If it would save just one soldier's life, yes, I would and in a heartbeat (or a New York Minute.) The Spartans had the right idea.

"Women in the military are far more likely to be raped by an American soldier than by the enemy. FAR more likely."
.
Women in Georgia are FAR more likely to be raped by a man in Georgia than a man in Colorado. What's your point??

"I know lots of people that, during Vietnam, were in Germany, their biggest trauma was getting drunk on German beer."

.
I was in Germany then. Those men that you so enthusiastically disparage were there and ready for deployment. Many went directly from Germany to Vietnam. I was one of them. Many of those who made that transition died without ever seeing the United States again.
(And at the risk or tarnishing my "Ranger" image, I stopped drinking in high school.)

"What about women my age, that were barred from combat arms way back in "the good old days"?"

.
As you should be today. The military is not just a "job" opportunity as liberals who would destroy our country in the name of "fairness" want us to believe. There are great numbers of people, men and women who can't or won't do the job. As it should be.

As usual you have taken an issue completely out of context and I should have learned the last time around that you can't be reasoned with.

So go ahead and respond with what you believe to be "logic". I won't answer. That's a promise. I just don't enjoy the unreasoned and specious repartee that you seem to revel in.

I come to these boards to engage in reasonable debate and discussion. When I can't get that after a considerable effort, I click the IGNORE USER button.

That way, neither of us has the problem anymore.

Congratulations! You will never make it into the Army but you have made it onto my IGNORE list. A much smaller and a very elite (some think) group.

"CLICK"

Darby
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Darby 07/18/13 - 02:24 pm
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0
Let me apologize for my redundancy but

I'm now going to re-post one of my efforts from yesterday because it is without a doubt apropos to this thread as well.

It has to do with the Marine who "desecrated" the bodies of Taliban killed in Afghanistan.

.
"No, don't want or need Boy Scouts
to do the dirty job our politicians require of our soldiers.

And no, ....don't want to hear that trash about "We have to be "better" than the terrorists."

We only have to be better at killing them than they are at killing us. That's the extent of it.

The sheltered pansies who would have our warriors conduct themselves on the battlefield in the same manner as we would behave on the football field are as dangerous as the Taliban.

To win and survive against a vicious, unforgiving and inhumane enemy requires that we shed many of the societal niceties that are necessary in a civilized environment.

Reduced in rank and fined?? The man should have been promoted!"

.
The delicate flowers that adorn our Congress need to understand that what they require of those who fight also demands that we divest ourselves of some layers of our humanity in order to accomplish our mission and survive. Call it an attitude adjustment.

It has always been that way. It was true at Valley Forge, true in Vietnam and remains valid today.

If we are to keep our freedom, it will always be so.

deestafford
34543
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deestafford 07/18/13 - 03:35 pm
1
0
Darby,

It's impossible to explain to those who have never been there the hellish environment and life the Infantryman lives in war. That is one of the reason we never "want to talk about it" to those who have never been there.

I have found that the intensity of the combat fire in a conversation is inversely proportional to the distance one was from the firefight. In other words, the farther away from battle one was---the bigger the lies and bravery.

For decades I heard that technology would make the grunt obsolete. It has never happened and it never will. The last 50 years can be taken and held only by the man with the bayonet---the Infantryman.

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