WASHINGTON – Too much fabric in some spots and not enough in others pushed the Army last year to begin work on a combat uniform tailored specifically for women, who make up 14 percent of the force. But an even higher percentage of Army aviators are women, so now a better-fitting version of that uniform is in the works.
“When we started to pull this thread, we realized 17 percent of our aviators are women and we don’t have a women’s aviator uniform,” Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller of Program Executive Office Soldier said Thursday.
For women soldiers, the problem with the combat uniform was fit: arms that were too long, shoulders that were too wide, and waist-hip ratio designed for men.
But there’s an even more uncomfortable problem with the aviator uniform. Because of all the leg straps and fasteners, going to the bathroom is a far more involved project for women than for men.
As a result, he said, female aviators have been known to avoid liquids, dehydrating themselves to avoid lengthy pit stops. The new uniform will be designed with bathroom-break parity in mind.
As with the changes to the combat uniform, Fuller said, “It’s not about fashion, it’s about function.”