Army looks to adjust GI sizing, Camp Shelby soldiers take part
CAMP SHELBY, MS (WDAM) -
It is a $9.5 million United States Army operation: measuring the dimensions of a 21st century soldier. They do not look the same as they did in 1988, when the Army last took measurements.
According to an Army pilot study in 2007 - height has stayed about the same over the last 24 years, but the average active duty male is 11 pounds heavier, with an inch more girth on the waist, hips and chest.
"That's when we were like 'wow', we've got a real issue here," said Cynthia Blackwell, who is a leader of the Army's Anthropomorphic survey (ANSURII) that is measuring thousands of soldiers, referring to the 2007 preliminary study.
It was clear that everything government issued to the army needed to come in bigger sizes. Blackwell said the Army began noticing problems in 2003, noting that there were a remarkably large number of special-fit orders, and 'critical shortages' in large sizes of gear, especially body armor.
"You could conceivably have a situation where a unit is not able to go or not all of a unit is able to go because you can't fit everybody," said Blackwell of the outfitting problems.
In the military, clothes and the accessories are not for style.
Staff Sergeant Michael Williams has been deployed three times. "Going to a deployment, you don't want to go into a war zone with baggy or loose clothing," Williams says.
"It would be a lot better to be able to just concentrate on running and everything else besides how your clothes are fitting and how you might look and be uncomfortable," said Specialist David Adams, who said his physical training uniform did not fit well. "My top is bigger than my bottom," Adams said, describing how his government issue shirt is too tight and his shorts – which runs miles in for training – are too big.
Blackwell, says it is not just the uniforms and the gear, the equipment is often too big or too small. "When you start talking about not being able to reach the foot pedal because you're a female - or even a male with short legs … you can't reach your pedals to you can't stop your aircraft."
The Army, which will likely share their data from this survey with the other branches of the military - is sending a sort of pop-up shop to about a dozen bases across the country. It will get info on both men and women from the National Guard, Reserves and active duty soldiers, testing about 13,000 soldiers total.
"If you're not comfortable, you're not concentrating on the task at hand," says Adams.