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Women in Army SOF resorted to buying their own armor, study finds

Nearly half of the women in U.S. Army Special Operations Command have problems with the way their issued gear fits, and some resort to buying their own — or borrowing a spouse’s — to ensure they can operate in comfort and safety.


Paratroopers assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard, carry their parachute and other equipment off the drop zone after performing a static-line jump on Feb. 25, 2023 near Camp Williams, Utah. (Spc. Mackenzie Willden/Army)


That’s according to a wide-ranging internal study on barriers to service for women in special operations, obtained by Military Times through a public records request.


In the study, which included a survey of 5,000 USASOC members and small focus-group meetings with 198 women throughout the command, access to properly fitting gear, and even inexpensive devices allowing for urination in field environments, emerged as a major concern. Two years later, many of the recommended solutions remain works in progress as the Army completes wear experiments and fit tests. For some issues, though, officials say the solution comes down to better education and awareness about how to adjust gear or request needed items.


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