Kit Up!

Congress Wants Lighter Body Armor, Female Designed Kit


female kitBuilding lighter body armor and developing personal protective equipment for female servicemembers has grabbed the attention of the House Armed Services Committee.

The chairman of the Committee has approved the request from a House Armed Services subcommittee to receive a full report from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the "department’s programs to develop and field individual equipment that is properly sized, weighted, and designed to accommodate its use by women across all of the military services." The report is due by February 2014.

This comes after Marine Corps leaders have balked at questions whether they plan to follow the lead of the Army and develop female kit to include body armor, rucksacks and field urination devices.

The subcommittee made sure to commend the Army, but stopped short of criticizing the Marine Corps. In the past, the Marine Corps has said it's more concerned with protection versus comfort.

"The committee commends the Army for taking these actions and expects similar actions by the other military services,” the markup report states.

As far as body armor for all service members, the House Armed Services Committee wants the military working harder to develop lighter weight materials to lighten the increasing load on troops. Congress has asked the Pentagon to issue a report on exactly what is being done to develop this next generation body armor.

Capitol Hill also wants to place more focus in the budgeting process to ensure protective equipment receives its due when it's time to hand out funding.

"The mark facilitates the development of ever more functional, lighter, and more protective body armor by requiring each service to create a separate procurement budget line for personal protective equipment- thus making body armor a more traditional weapon system acquisition program that can build on successive generations of innovation and investment, rather than the ad hoc procedure now in place," the committee chairman wrote in his version of the markup.

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