The U.S. Army is developing a combat-ready bra to offer female soldiers protection and take the place of one-style-fits-all military issue undergarments.
The “tactical bra” will add body armor and protection for female soldiers and would be the first of its kind to be added to the official Army uniform if approved by the Army Uniform Board this fall.
Four mock-up bras are in development currently at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, according to The Washington Post. The bras have been through multiple rounds of testing and have different designs.
Concepts A and B are pull-over sports bras, concept C is a cross-body with straps in the back to give compression, and concept D has a zipper in the front, according to Army Times.
The bra is designed to be tactical in ways that most sports bras are not. According to Business Insider, designers have talked to many female soldiers and thought of “enhanced protection” options such as flame-retardant fabrics.
“If the AUB makes it a program of record, we would want to promote that as an accomplishment and win for female soldiers across the Army,” Jeff Sisto, public affairs officer with Soldier Center, wrote to the Army Times.
“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,” clothing designer and project lead, Ashely Cushion, told Army AL&T magazine. “Achieving this will improve the soldier’s overall readiness and performance levels, allowing them to focus on their mission.”
Female soldiers make up nearly 16% of Army soldiers and Sarah Hoyt, who went through basic training in 2002, told The Washington Post that when she went in for training she was given a standard bra that was given to every female soldier.
“If racerbacks were uncomfortable for you, too bad. If you needed more support, too bad. If the store was out of your size, too bad. I was very uncomfortable to put it mildly,” Hoyt said.
Madelynn Conner, intelligence officer for the U.S. Army, told The Washington Post that she and her colleagues are grateful for the Army’s efforts to help women.
“We are very grateful that the Army is moving in this direction and being more accommodating towards its female soldiers, who bring so much to the fight,” Conner said.