Combat Support: The Army Looks to Field Better Sports Bras

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Master Sergeant Jessica Alicea-Cavezza conducts a Jumpmaster Pre-Inspection on Capt. Sara Roger prior to an airborne operation at Camp Mackall.
Master Sergeant Jessica Alicea-Cavezza conducts a Jumpmaster Pre-Inspection on Capt. Sara Roger prior to an airborne operation at Camp Mackall, North Carolina March 25, 2019. (U.S. Army/K. Kassens)

The Army is surveying female soldiers to help pick the best sports bras on the market for a standard issue item, as the service seeks to field equipment better designed for women.

"As an increasing number of female Soldiers assume combat roles, the emphasis on the acquisition of female specific [issued clothing and gear] and [personal protective equipment] is becoming greater," the Army personnel division's Uniform Policy Branch said in a message earlier this month.

It urged wide distribution of an online survey to female soldiers. Their feedback will help officials choose the "best performing commercial-off-the-shelf" product and identify any needed improvements to the undergarments it makes available to troops and trainees, it said.

Women have been issued athletic bras ahead of deployments in the past. But earlier this year the Army Uniform Board called on the service to prioritize research into improving the quality and functionality of athletic bras issued to women in basic training or preparing to deploy.

It was among several recommendations aimed at improving gear for women. These include a physical fitness uniform for pregnant soldiers and the Hot Weather Combat Uniform-Female as an optional uniform.

The Army also has several programs to improve body armor for women, including helmets to fit hair buns, bomb suits to fit men and women with smaller builds and improved devices for urinating while in the field, USA Today reported last week.

An earlier attempt to field an official sports bra yielded an item that wasn't suitable for all body types, the Army said in late 2018.

The new survey is being conducted by the CCDC Soldier Center. Responses must be completed by Oct. 30.

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