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Kirtland female defenders among the first in the Air Force to get new female body armor

Woman poses with body armor

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, donns her body armor on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 4, 2021. Airmen from the 377th Security Forces Group were among the first Air Force defenders to receive the new issue of female body armor starting January 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Woman snaps buckle on body armor

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, donns her body armor on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 4, 2021. One of the features on the new female body armor is a snap buckle instead of the original velcro, which is used on the standard vest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Woman stands and poses in front of humvee

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, poses in the new female body armor on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 4, 2021. Airmen from the 377th Security Forces Group were among the first Air Force defenders to receive the new issue of female body armor starting January 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Woman adjusts corset on body armor

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, donns her body armor on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 4, 2021. One of the features on the new female body armor is a snap buckle instead of the original velcro, which is used on the standard vest. The adjustable back corset allows the wearer to tighten the fit, making it more secure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Close up photo of body armor

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, donns her body armor on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 4, 2021. The new female body armor is lighter weight, has a curved torso, shorter torso size and an adjustable back corset, allowing it to fit more securely and with more comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

After years of wearing the standard tactical vest originally designed for a male body frame, female Airmen from the 377th Security Forces Group 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.

U.S. Air Force 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,” said Tripani. “The new one is lighter weight, 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,” said Tripani. “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.

One defender, Senior Airman Kiah C. Cook, 377th Security Forces Group defender, was one of the first at Kirtland to receive the new body armor.

“The first thing that came to mind was excitement,” said Cook. “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,” said Trapani. “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 that 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,” said Trapani. “I am happy to see some antiquated issues finally being addressed and resolved.”