New body armor carrier, plates and female-focused designs headed to soldiers

When Maj. Melissa Elledge was a brand-new soldier ploughing through basic training, she had to find gear shortcuts simply to accomplish basic tasks, such as firing her weapon.

“I spent the whole 10 weeks of basic training with a bruise in my bicep because that’s where I put the buttstock,” Elledge told Army Times. “I either had to pull away the body armor to fix my weapon, or what was easier, use my bicep.”

That was back in 2007, when she joined the Army at 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing less than 120 pounds. But little changed for her and many either female or smaller stature male soldiers until now.

A limited number of sizes for body armor and other gear meant soldiers that didn’t fit those standard models were basically out of luck when it came to finding a good fit.

“You just drove on, this is what they gave you, you wore that and you figured out how to make it work for you so you could shoot, preform and meet your mission,” Elledge said.