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Female vests debut in action
Items designed to improve firing, maneuverability
1216 Female vests followup
Private 1st Class Mary Kidd, a medic with the 1st ABCT, 3rd ID, female engagement team, fires at a target while wearing her new Generation III female Improved Outer Tactical Vest, Dec. 12. The vests are the first for the U.S. Army to be designed specifically for the female body type, and the 1st ABCT FET are only the second group in the Army to use them. - photo by Photo provided.

The female engagement team with 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, got range time Dec. 12 firing in its brand-new Generation III female improved outer tactical vests.

The FET, which is preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan, was the second group in the Army to receive the new IOTVs. Standing, kneeling or lying down, the vests are considered a vast improvement over the Generation II IOTVs, which are designed to be worn by both men and women.

“The other one was bigger and bulkier and it felt like I was fighting with it to do anything,” said Pvt. 1st Class Cheryl Rogers, a medic with the team. “This one felt so much more natural on the range.”

The vest comes in multiple sizes to fit varying body types, a factor that played a large part in improving maneuverability over the former models.

“I like the fact that there is more freedom of movement so I don’t have to mess with the gear before firing,” said 2nd Lt. Meagan Bell, the officer in charge of the FET’s bravo team. “At the range we have all the time in the world to make adjustments, but when something goes wrong downrange and we get in an actual firefight, I want to be able to get into the position I need to without having to worry about my gear hindering that.”

Although team members did not do an official qualification round, during the test runs they shot consistently on point, and all the women were able to acquire the next target and effectively engage it much more efficiently.

During their tour, they will be part of a final field trial to iron out any issues before an expected summer 2013 release of more than 3,000 vests to female soldiers.

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