Uniforms have largely been designed for the boys, but the Army is working on something for the girls’ ... well ... girls.
The Army Tactical Brassiere is a product undergoing testing at the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center.
In the fall, the Soldier Center’s Design Pattern Prototype Team is expected to present an initial evaluation to the Army Uniform Board, which would establish the Army Tactical Brassiere as an official program of record.
“If the AUB makes it a program of record, we would want to promote that as a [Soldier Center] accomplishment and win for female Soldiers across the Army,” wrote Jeff Sisto, a public affairs officer with Soldier Center, in an email to Army Times.
The bra’s development began with a survey given to female soldiers on what type of functionality and preferences should be considered during initial design. It has been labeled a “tactical rather than sportswear item,” according to Soldier Touchpoints.
It’s meant to integrate into existing body armor and give an added level of protection to female soldiers.
“This means that designers are evaluating options such as the inclusion of flame-retardant fabrics and expertly layered compression, structural and protective materials while also taking into account the importance of accurate sizing, reliable comfort, moisture management and breathability,” Touchpoints noted.
“The overall goal is to produce garments that not only protect the user, but reduce the cognitive burden on the female Soldier caused by discomfort and ill fit,” said Ashley Cushon, clothing designer and project lead for the ATB at the DEVCOM Soldier Center. “Achieving this will improve the Soldier’s overall readiness and performance levels, allowing them to focus on their mission,” she explained.
This effort is part of an ongoing campaign to tailor military uniform options to diverse body types. And there are currently four prototype models. Concepts A and B are pullover sports bras with padding and structured seams and a shelf style, respectively. Concept C is a compression bra with cross-back straps. Concept D has a zippered front closure with contoured seams and adjustable cross back straps.
“Soldier touch points allow our engineers and scientists the chance to see firsthand how new technologies integrate with existing Soldier clothing and equipment, as well as how they fit into or enhance [tactics, techniques and procedures] and mission-specific tasks,” said Al Adams, team leader of the Soldier Clothing, Footwear and Integration Team at the DEVCOM Soldier Center.
The researchers with DEVCOM work within their lab to ensure that the latest and greatest uniform technology is combined with the wants and needs expressed by soldiers in the field.
“Until you have the system in the field with Soldiers, you don’t know what critical considerations you may have missed,” Adams added.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.