MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (CBS2 News) — Mountain Home Air Force Base is evolving its equipment for the women who serve in security forces on the base.
"This is the first base in the Air Force, that has actually gone to fruition in purchasing and testing a good amount,” said Sgt. Steven Pyott, NCOIC of Supply and Resources for 366 security forces squadron at the base.
Senior Airman Anna Hale is one of the security force members that has benefitted from the new vests. Her job is to defend the base by dispatching to alarms or guarding the gates.
The plate carrier she wears is designed to hold tools while keeping her protected with steel ballistic plates. The plate carriers have evolved over the years but never before have been shaped to fit women. The men's vests would take a toll on Hale at times.
"I mean, I kind of noticed it but I never really thought about it because there was just no option," said Airman Hale. "I just dealt with it."
Sgt. Pyott said that this is the first time any of the female cut plates have been available to use.
“We had our leadership that really felt the need to step forward and go push the way ahead on this," Sgt. Pyott said. "We back them 100 percent, this is something I feel that needs to be taken into consideration. Males and females are built and atomically different.”
The female-cut plate carriers distribute weight more evenly, while the men's vests shift all the weight on the shoulders. Hale says her old one didn't fit right and would 'hang off'. She says with her new one, she finds it fits better.
“I really like it," Hale said. "It's more easy to move around in. When I'm firing it helps with my aim and everything because I don't have things in the way.”
Being able to operate in this plate carrier is crucial in doing her job.
“Practice how you play," Hale said. "So when we actually start to respond to real incidents. We'll be more adjusted to this.”
Sgt. Pyott agrees.
“If a female defender is more comfortable in her gear, it means that her stamina is going to be better,” Sgt. Pyott said.
A stamina that is essential when protecting their bases and the country.
“More women are joining our crew filled with security forces so I think it's definitely important that we take care of them too,” Hale said.