NATICK, Mass. (Army News Service, Aug. 10, 2007) - Sizing shortfalls in clothing and equipment distributed at central issue facilities is soon to be a thing of the past with the new Uniform System for Improved Tariffs program.

The closest to a correct fit Soldiers can hope for usually involves a guessing game of small, medium, large or extra-large and the number of sizes available, which is currently determined by outdated predictions.

The USFIT program uses 3-D, whole-body scanners to record the shape of Soldiers' bodies. The data is archived in the Integrated Database for Engineering Anthropometry of Soldiers to provide a better overall description of the user population.

"Previously there was a large opportunity for a sizing error," said Joseph Cooper, a USFIT project officer. "Using the scanner will give us data to provide the best fit."

The IDEAS database will also assist developers in the design of current and next-generation clothing and equipment, including future combat systems.

The information may eventually be loaded onto common access cards so Soldiers and supply sergeants can simply scan the card when ordering uniforms and equipment from around the world.

The first phase of USFIT included the development of size-prediction algorithms for selected uniforms and equipment at Fort Bliss, Texas, where more than 3,000 deploying Soldiers were scanned and fit-tested.

Phase two includes distributing scanners to 24 Army installations and mobilization centers, and is awaiting funding. Phase three includes distribution of head and foot scanners for use in sizing protective masks and footwear.

Current size predictions are based on a 1988 study that used the same measurement methods for men and women.

"The 1988 survey, although providing the best data to date then, is almost 20 years old," said Mr. Cooper. "What the Army looks like has changed with regard to ethnicity and gender. In addition, the survey only covered active-duty personnel, and we have more reserve-component personnel than ever participating in OIF/OEF.

"The average age of an OIF Reservist is approximately 33, while the age of an incoming active-duty Soldier is between 18 and 23 years old," Mr. Cooper explained. "Sizing for uniforms will vary greatly between the two."

(This story was taken from an Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Mass. press release.)