KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- After years of wearing the standard tactical vest originally designed for a male body frame, female Airmen from the 377th Security Forces Group at Kirtland Air Force Base were among the first Air Force defenders to receive the new issue of female body armor starting January 2021.
The new, better-fitting body armor will be distributed to all female security forces members on the installation.
Master Sgt. Brianne N. Trapani, 377th Security Support Squadron superintendent, spoke about some of the vest’s new features.
“The new female body armor is different from our current standard tactical vest,” Tripani said. “The new one is lighter, has a curved chest plate and a shorter torso size.”
Tripani included that the armor has an adjustable back corset that tightens to fit. The gear also has the unique feature of not being “one-size-fits-all,” which allows the vest to conform to the female torso and provide better coverage.
“Our previous gear did not allow for much freedom of movement,” Tripani said. “So if we were in a situation that required us to run or quickly exit a vehicle, it hindered us greatly. It also put us at risk by wearing gear that was not properly fitted to protect us.”
These subtle changes to critical gear are steps towards inclusivity for female defenders.
Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th SFG defender, was one of the first at Kirtland AFB to receive the new body armor.
“The first thing that came to mind was excitement,” Cook said. “This is a historic moment. It shows us that the military is starting to appreciate us females more, especially as cops, and getting us gear that is specifically for us.”
Creating better-fitting armor for female defenders is part of the Air Force’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
“We owe it to our female defenders to outfit them in gear that fits while properly providing comfort and protection in dangerous environments,” Trapani said. “We all do the same job in security forces, we are all one team and having gear that fits our physical features more appropriately is a huge step for inclusivity within this male-dominated career field.”
Trapani said when she joined the Air Force, it was composed of 14% women, and now it is at 21%, making these adaptations significant.
“This is an exciting time filled with progress and changes in the right direction for many initiatives within the military,” Trapani said. “I am happy to see some antiquated issues finally being addressed and resolved.”