FORT BELVOIR, Virginia (AFP) – The US Army is testing its first-ever combat uniform expressly designed to fit the female figure, a move seen as an overdue effort to make 160,000 US women soldiers more comfortable.
Don’t expect a camouflage haute couture revolution for America’s military women; the changes will be visibly slight, although they are important, said the first person to try on the women’s army combat uniform, or ACU.
“The unisex uniform was a little bit baggy,” Major Sequana Robinson told AFP, undoubtedly summing up the attitudes of thousands of female soldiers who for decades have had to make do with ill-fitting fatigues.
“The goal is not to have female soldiers accentuate their curves, but… it alleviates some of the excess material” that had come to typify the unisex uniform worn by far more men than women.
For years the US Army offered standard-issue unisex ACUs, which sought to neutralize gender differences but were often considered uncomfortable and unwieldy by female troops.
Some 600 women soldiers will comprehensively test the garments beginning next January. If approved by the Army Uniform Board, the female battle garments, which have undergone five years of study and design tweaking, could be rolled out as early as 2012.
In case you are wondering, they look nothing like this.