By Spc. Nathan Goodall, 17th Fires BrigadeOctober 18, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (Oct. 18, 2012) -- Soldiers with 17th Fires Brigade modeled the design concepts for the new physical fitness uniform during the Program Executive Office Road Show, Oct. 17, at Carey Theater, here.
It's time to not just change the Army physical fitness uniform, but to improve it, said Command Sgt. Maj. Emmett Maunakea, the command sergeant major with the Program Executive Office.
Based on input of U.S. Army Soldiers worldwide, using a survey sent to all Army e-mail account users, the PEO was able to develop several prototypes, Maunakea said.
The PEO designs all uniforms for the Army and wanted to make changes based on Soldiers' ideas.
"If you've never worn the uniform, you're just a designer," Maunakea said. "It's the people using it whose feedback we need."
The first survey took place in February, and gathered more than 75,000 responses from Soldiers. Those responses inspired 36 changes to the uniform, said Maunakea.
"Improvements such as the lighter materials [used to make the clothes] all happened because Soldiers said 'these are things I think need to be changed,'" he said.
The Soldiers with 17th Fires Brigade experienced the improvements first hand. They were brought in to wear the prototypes and by doing so were, able to act as models for command leadership to see, as well as provide their own feedback.
"They feel and fit a whole lot better because of the new material," said Pfc. Stacey Gourdine, a truck driver with 606th Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade.
Gourdine was especially impressed with the new pockets on the physical fitness shorts. The small pocket created to hold car keys that is sewn into the waistband on the current uniform, has been reconfigured so keys sit sideways instead of vertically. The vertical key placement at times dug into Soldiers' skin when performing exercises like sit-ups, something the new design has corrected.
All prototypes modeled by the Soldiers had the same improvements, but were cosmetically different. With the overall design improvements completed, the PEO is moving on to the next step for creating the new uniform: choosing which style Soldiers like more, said Maunakea.
The PEO is holding another survey that is open until Oct. 29, where Soldiers can vote on their favorite style. With awareness of the newly designed uniform spreading, more than 161,900 votes have already been cast, he said.
"We want what the Soldiers want," said Master Sgt. Jeff Leonard, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Soldier Clothing and Equipment with PEO, speaking to the Soldiers wearing the new uniform designs. "It's very important that you vote."
One of the popular choices for 17th Fires Bde. Soldiers at the road show were shorts with yellow-gold stripes on the sides.
"I like it," said Spc. Brianna Griffin, a truck driver with 606th Forward Support Company. "The gold stripe gives it a little more color."
The new uniform is scheduled to be the standard physical fitness uniform Army wide in 2015, Maukanea said.
Soldiers that want to vote on their favorite style of the new uniform can do so by going to https://ipfusurvey.natick.army.mil, and logging in with their CAC. To take the survey without a CAC go to https://surveys.natick.army.mil/Surveys/ipfu.nsf.