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39th LRS delivers female specific IPE to defenders

An older woman helping an younger woman don a armored vest.

U.S. Air Force Col. Shelly L. Mendieta, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander, helps Airman 1st Class Desi Virginia Moorefield, 39th SFS security response team member, adjust the fit of her new Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vest at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. Women comprise more than 20 percent of all Airmen serving in the U.S. Air Force, yet most clothing and gear previously issued was predominately male-body type centered or unisex. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

A logistics Airman sorts body armor vests into boxes.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Yoram Kapayi, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment supervisor, sorts newly received Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vests at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. Logistics squadrons coordinate with bases and vendors worldwide to provide necessary equipment and supplies to their respective bases, but overseas bases face additional challenges with distance, customs and language barriers to complete their mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

Two Airmen women try on body armor vests together.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Crystal St. Germain (left), 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron Materiel Management Flight commander, and Airman 1st Class Shianne Chacon (right), 39th LRS journeyman, try on newly received Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vests at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. The Female Fitment Program is an Air Force Chief of Staff initiative and was created in response to the need to find uniform items and gear optimized for female Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

A female colonel holding up an armored vest while speaking to a small crowd

U.S. Air Force Col. Shelly L. Mendieta, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander, talks about the shortcomings the standard issue Improved Outer Tactical Vest had for women serving in frontline roles at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. The Air Force is dedicated to making Airmen’s contributions feel valued and enable them to be more combat effective and ready each day. Efforts to reduce injuries, improve morale and increase effectiveness is an ongoing part of the mission to have Airmen ready to fly, fight and win. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

Women security forces Airmen line-up at a table to be issued new armored vests.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Shianne Chacon, 39th LRS journeyman, issues out the newly received Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vests to women of the 39th Security Forces Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. The 39th LRS team hand-delivered some of the new Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vests to female base defenders at the 39th Security Forces Squadron armory during a ‘guard mount’ where defenders going on duty procure equipment for the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

Several women security forces Airmen stand in-line while holding armor plates

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jatarian Haggins, 39th Security Forces Squadron security response team member, and other women defenders wait to be issued the new Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System vest at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. The Female Fitment program was created several years ago, by then Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, to address the equipment performance issues experienced by women serving in roles that had job-specific gear requirements, such as Security Forces, pilots and air crews, firefighting and explosives ordnance disposal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

Three women security forces Airmen in full armor and gear pose for a photo.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tori Ann Bluhm, Anairis Ellis and Ellyson Jimenez, 39th SFS security response team members, pause together during a ‘guard mount’ where SFS defenders don equipment before going out on shift at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 12, 2021. Women comprise more than 20 percent of all Airmen serving in the U.S. Air Force, yet most clothing and gear previously issued was predominately male-body type centered or unisex. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

The 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron received its first shipment of female specific protective wear, the Aspetto Mach V Female Body Armor System, as part of the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command’s Female Fitment Program, Jan. 12, 2021.

The FF program was created several years ago, by then Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, to address the equipment performance issues experienced by women serving in roles that had job-specific gear requirements, such as security forces, pilots and air crews, firefighting and explosives ordnance disposal.

The 39th LRS team helped mark the occasion by hand-delivering some of the new vests to female base Defenders at the 39th Security Forces Squadron armory during a ‘guard mount’ where defenders going on duty procure equipment for the day.

“The LRS team are my heroes today,” said Col. Shelly L. Mendieta, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander. “We have hundreds of front-line Airmen here and many thousands across the Air Force, so it’s absolutely essential that they get the gear they need to complete the mission. The logistics and supply chain are critical to accomplishing that and our LRS team fought to get this gear for us so others may be safely equipped and ready to fight.”

Twelve women defenders got to try on the new vests and expressed their praise, citing that the old armor made long shifts, consistent physical movement and carrying extensive amounts of heavy equipment much tougher for them.

“This new vest is much more secure and fits better,” said Airman 1st Class Desi Virginia Moorefield, 39th SFS security response team member. “It doesn’t chafe around the shoulders or neck area; there’s more padding and it holds weight against my chest instead of hanging over my stomach area and sides. If we’re not comfortable, it gets in the way of accomplishing what we must do, so I think this is a positive move in the right direction.”

Women comprise more than 20 percent of all Airmen serving in the U.S. Air Force, yet most clothing and gear previously issued was predominately male-body type centered or unisex.

“This is by far the best fit I’ve experienced in my entire career,” Chief Master Sgt. Janee Walker, 39th Security Forces Squadron chief enlisted manager. “I’ve done SFS work for 26 years, so I’ve worked in flak vests, in improved outer tactical vests, interceptor body armor and plate carriers. This hugs my shoulders and waist where I need it to and it’s not sitting on my hips or legs … I could do physical training in this, and I know I would perform better on the shooting range too. This vest’s mobility is going to allow our defenders to be more capable.”

The FF program’s immediate focus is on frontline Airmen, yet the goal is to eventually provide better fitting individual protective equipment issued to all women throughout the Air Force.

“If I had to choose between the old and this new vest, I’d choose this new one, as it's light and sits perfectly,” said Airman 1st Class Shianne Chacon, 39th LRS journeyman. “Incirlik is the first overseas location to receive these women specific gear and I think this will lessen stress and level the playing field a bit to help them perform.”

Air Force leaders have spent years searching and developing ways to improve the readiness of its Airmen, which includes training, morale, basic needs and quality gear amongst other concerns. Surveys, work groups and local command engagements with Airmen has helped to uncover ways to improve overall ability and career quality. Inclusive consideration of women’s needs showed that ill-fitting gear was a common complaint.

“Leaders need Airman feedback in order to seek out improvements like this,” Mendieta said. “I ask the women getting this new vest to share their thoughts on it, and with any other issues that hinder their ability to serve, with their chain-of-command so that we can continue to strive for a better, more inclusive and ready force.”

The Air Force is dedicated to making Airmen’s contributions feel valued and enable them to be more combat effective and ready each day. Efforts to reduce injuries, improve morale and increase effectiveness is an ongoing part of the mission to have Airmen ready to fly, fight and win.