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thedrifter
09-18-07, 08:12 AM
New fireproof Army shirt more breathable
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Sep 18, 2007 5:32:02 EDT

Army equipment officials have put the final tweaks on the new fire-resistant Army Combat Shirt to make it cooler than ever.

In a recent limited user evaluation of the form-fitting shirt, soldiers told Program Executive Officer-Soldier officials that the shirt needed to be more breathable for wear beneath the body armor and other soldier equipment, according to a recent Army press release.

The Army Combat Shirt is part of a new fire-resistant ensemble PEO Soldier is fielding in an effort to protect soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from burns. Many soldiers have suffered burn wounds that were the result of close exposure to the blasts of improvised explosive devices.

The new shirt’s digitized camouflage sleeves resemble those on the Army Combat Uniform, but the torso area is made of a foliage-green-colored knit fabric.

The latest version of the shirt includes upgrades based on soldier feedback collected since the shirt was first distributed in the spring for user evaluations.

“Even though we developed the Army Combat Shirt to be lighter, more comfortable and breathable, we listened to soldiers who tested it and said they wanted it to be even more breathable and comfortable,” Maj. Clay Williamson, assistant product manager for clothing and individual equipment, said in the release.

“The fabric that made up the torso of the ACS was replaced with a fabric that provides breathability that is off the charts.”

Another change to improve breathability was replacing the elastic cuffs designed to keep out sand with adjustable cuffs similar to ACU jacket cuffs. The cuffs can be loosened for ventilation or tightened to keep out sand and other debris, the release said.

The Army plans to ship from 250,000 to 300,000 sets of the ensemble to theater, enough to outfit every soldier, equipment officials say. However, commanders will decide how many sets each soldier will receive.

Traditionally, flame-resistant uniforms are reserved for aviators and combat vehicle crewmen because soldiers in those specialties are at a greater risk of being exposed to fuel fires, a hazard more associated with helicopters and armored vehicles. Late last year, the Army also began fielding two newly designed flame-resistant uniforms — the Army Aviation Combat Uniform and the Improved Combat Vehicle Crewman Coverall.

But in January, the Army began shipping more than 160,000 Nomex uniforms to theater for soldiers assigned to convoy operations. The move was made in response to a September 2006 “operational needs statement” from Coalition Forces Land Component Command. The interim fix was an attempt to reduce the number of convoy soldiers suffering burns from roadside bombs.

In addition to the combat shirt, all soldiers serving in theater will also receive new fire-resistant ACUs. They look the same as regular ACUs but are made of fire-resistant rayon fabric. While the fabric will burn, it is slower than cotton to ignite, which gives soldiers more time to escape an attack or blast area before clothing materials catch fire.

Ellie