Aviators help Army right-size uniforms, equipment
A contractor with Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, right, measures the distance between the eyes of CW1 Evan Snyder.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 1, 2011) -- Over the next five weeks, 1,000 Fort Rucker Aviators will contribute their body measurements for the servicewide anthropometric survey known as ANSUR II, conducted by a team from Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Lt. Col. Richard Hall, military liaison officer for Natick RDEC, said ANSUR II will "re-establish who is medium-regular," by adding National Guard, Aviators and female Soldiers to the "total Army concept."

"The Army Aviation Center of Excellence asked us to come here because Aviators have some unique requirements as far as size and height," he said.

These measurements vary due to Initial Entry Rotary Wing training body size requirements, legacy airframe envelopes and demographic differences due to education requirements and volunteer rates, Hall said.

Representatives from Natick will collect 94 standardized body measurements, and 3-D body, head, neck and foot scans from active duty, Reserve and National Guard members. The ANSUR II study will establish new sizing systems for clothing and individual equipment that have not been changed since the first ANSUR study in 1988.

The measuring process takes about an hour and a half, in which Soldiers visit various stations and have their bodies marked, measured and scanned. Though many of the Soldiers describe the process as unfamiliar, CW1 Evan Snyder, B Co.,1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, said that it was not unlike parts of initial physical examinations for flight school.

"It's helping out the Army, so I'm happy to do it," said Snyder.

Initial tests at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort McCoy, Wis., yielded results that included extra weight and inches across all genders, ethnicities and ranks. According to initial research, Soldiers have gained an average of 11.4 pounds and added two inches around the waist since the last ANSUR study in 1988.

Changes in Soldier's sizes are due to many factors, including changes in diet, different methods of bodybuilding and a more ethnically diverse range of enlisted Soldiers. This increase in size means an increase in combat risks and costs for taxpayers, including shortages in clothing and individual equipment, biological protective clothing and body armor for those deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hall said.

"We had critical shortages of larger sizes when we initially deployed in Iraq in 2003. We did emergency buys [and a] rapid fielding initiative, but they could never get the sizing tariffs correct," said Hall.

One difference between ANSUR II and previous attempts to establish sizing is the 3-D body scanners that provide additional data about the shape and curvature of Soldiers' bodies. Simulations, workstations and vehicles can all be developed from these scans.

"This is not just for uniforms. Anything [Soldiers] interact with has the potential to be better because of this study," said Steven Paquette, government field supervisor of ANSUR II.

Additionally, more female servicemembers will be surveyed in order to modify the overwhelmingly male bias of the 1988 survey. This need for female Soldiers is one reason why ANSUR II is visiting multiple Training and Doctrine Command sites with high percentages of female servicemembers. Measurements taken by the Natick unit will contribute to women's combat gear and uniforms currently being developed at Fort Hood.

"Everything in the Army presently was developed for men. They've never really had form, fit and function uniforms until now," said Hall.

After the data collected over the 16-month study is used for military development, it will be turned over to civilians to help produce everything from furniture to automobiles. Giving this data back to consumers is important, said Hall, because taxpayers have invested in the study.

"This is the most comprehensive [anthropometric] database our nation has. We want to share it with consumers" he said.

Page last updated Wed August 31st, 2011 at 16:07