NATICK, Mass. – Emily Madden – a clothing designer at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, Soldier Center – has been working with the Marine Corps Systems Command on modifications to maternity uniform items.
Madden is a DEVCOM Soldier Center employee on the Infantry Combat Equipment Team supporting the Marine Corps Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment, or PM ICE, in Quantico, Virginia. She is contributing her clothing design, technical design, and clothing manufacturing expertise to the Marine Corps effort, which involves service, dress, combat, and physical training uniforms.
“Through feedback from female Marines, our team began to look at solutions for pregnant and nursing Marines that provided them with the same tradition, fit, form and function but that also filled existing capability gaps,” said Madden.
In addition to garnering feedback from female Marines, the effort also sought to incorporate commercial innovations in design and fabrics into items for the military.
Madden explained that the new nursing undershirt provides an overpanel with a crossover design underneath. The design is helpful to Marines who are nursing or pumping, allowing for easy access without having to completely change. The undershirt includes ruching, or side seam gathering, for comfort and shape.
The improved maternity tunic and khaki shirt have tabs at the side seams, providing flexibility, comfort and shape during the different stages of pregnancy. The maternity and nursing items incorporate the higher neckline, the sleeve lines, and the correct shade or color to give pregnant or nursing Marines the same appearance as other Marines but with the functionality to accommodate pregnancy and nursing. The Marines are also looking to incorporate maternity features into physical fitness shorts.
The maternity effort was exceptional in that it provided an extremely quick result. The khaki shirt, tunic, and undershirt are already available for female Marines to purchase on the Marine Corps Exchange and other approved venues through the USMC Certified Clothing Program.
“We looked to commercially available products that we could implement quickly,” said Madden. “We wanted to find cost-effective solutions for the Marines that we could accomplish sooner rather than later. We also wanted to help with the culture and retention for Marines as they progress through pregnancy or post pregnancy. The nursing and maternity shirts, as well as other maternity and female-centric efforts, are based on the premise of collaborating with other services so that we have the economies of scale to make affordable, capable products.”
The knowledge obtained through the Marine Corps effort will ultimately benefit the Army and other services. The results of the effort are being shared with Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, or PM SCIE, at Program Executive Office Soldier, or PEO Soldier, with the potential of acquisition through the Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA.
“We are working with the Army’s PEO Soldier, PM SCIE at Fort Belvoir,” said Madden. “We are providing a commercial item description and are including the Army color for the potential of acquisition through DLA in the future – if the Army and the other services decide to provide the capability to Soldiers, Sailors, or Airwomen.”
Madden is proud to be working to improve items for females in the military.
“What we are doing with the female-centric and maternity-centric efforts in PM ICE, and across all the services, is part of a larger conversation supporting females, especially warfighters, in the workforce,” said Madden. “We want to present them with uniform options so they can continue with their mission while choosing to have a family.”
About the DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers is also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.