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The senior official performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Army, Mr. Christopher Lowman, discusses protective equipment for Soldiers with Col. Derek Bird, Lt. Col. Stephen Miller and Maj. Melissa Elledge, with PEO Soldier, March 8.

Earlier this month, the senior official performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Army, Christopher Lowman, visited PEO Soldier to receive an update on the Army’s progress in developing protective equipment and clothing for female Soldiers.

Representatives from Project Manager Soldier Survivability, Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment and Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment updated the second-ranking civilian in the Army on the status of armor, ballistic equipment, helmets and uniforms that provide more protection, maneuverability and comfort during all types of duties and missions.

“Today we have women serving in every type of Army unit, so it’s critical to Army readiness to ensure women have properly fitting equipment and uniforms,” said Lowman. “One impact is it reduces injuries, but proper fitting and design also increases the overall effectiveness of the Soldier. I was pleased to see the improvements and range of considerations that went into developing the equipment and uniforms, and I think it’ll make a positive impact for our women Soldiers.”

Col. Derek Bird, PM SSV, Lt. Col Stephen Miller, PdM SPE and Maj. Melissa Elledge, Assistant Product Manager, Body Armor, SPE, highlighted components of the Soldier Protection System, the Army’s next-generation personal protective equipment system.

Among these was the Modular Scalable Vest Generation II, which is 26% lighter than the current body armor vest. It will be available in eight sizes, up from the current five. PEO Soldier also briefed how the Female Ballistic Combat Shirt, worn under the MSV, is designed to accommodate the build of female Soldiers while providing increased ballistic protection.

“Our job is to design, develop, and field lifesaving equipment that fits every Soldier, regardless of gender, and that is exactly what we do every day,” said Elledge.

Other SPS components presented to Mr. Lowman included the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert Plate Generation III, designed in a format known as the “shooter’s cut,” that weighs less and allows for more upper body movement than current plates, as well as the Integrated Head Protection System, which weighs less than helmets worn now, provides more protection and better fits female Soldiers.

The Army is fielding SPS components to units over the next several years.

Mr. Lester Smith, Assistant Product Manager, PdM SCIE, also informed Mr. Lowman about developments with the Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform-Female, which comes in 16 additional sizes to the unisex IHWCU and makes adjustments to account for neck, hip, waist and chest sizes. Other SCIE programs highlighted included the Improved Maternity Work Uniform and the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform – Female, currently under joint development with the Air Force.

“Our team appreciated the opportunity to walk Mr. Lowman through our portfolio,” said Miller. “Leadership buy-in and support is crucial to continued improvement of these capabilities and ensuring we get the right kit, to the right Soldiers, at the right time.”