Logistics: One Size Does Not Fit All

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March 12, 2012: For the first time in 24 years the U.S. Army is measuring its troops for uniforms. The army buys in bulk and has lots of uniforms (along with ammo and other supplies) stockpiled for wartime operations. The stockpiled uniforms are in an assortment of sizes based on what the troops will need. But that didn't work six years ago as the army dipped into its reserve of uniforms to equip the larger number of troops being sent to Iraq. It turned out that the average soldier was larger, and a lot of smaller size uniforms were not needed, while there were shortages of many of the larger sizes. So the army is measuring a random sample of 12,000 troops to create a new list of standard sizes and how many of each is needed.

This isn't about fat, as the army has worked hard (as have the troops) to keep weight under control. Troops are just, well, bigger. While the troops are about as tall as they were 24 years ago, male troops are 51mm (2 inches) larger around the chest, waist, and hips. New standards are being established for female troops as well, who now have combat uniforms designed and modified to deal with the differences between male and female figures.

In addition to the usual measurements taken for clothes, there will also be measurements of the head, eye placement, and flexibility. This is so the new measurements can also be used for equipment design. Not just vehicles but also weapons and all sorts of other gear. This is all about ergonomics, which takes into account how the human shape and capabilities interacts with equipment and how people think. The better the ergonomics, the better the equipment and the user work together.

 


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