Upgraded tactical vests offer Vance Defenders better protection, maneuverability

  • Published
  • By Joe B. Wiles
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Before every shift, the Defenders at Vance Air Force Base inspect each other’s duty equipment at guard mount.

A new item has been added to the inspection -- the latest tactical body armor issued by the Air Force Security Forces Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, called the Modular Scalable Vest. 

“The new vest is great,” said Tech. Sgt. Hayden Granger, with the 71st Security Forces Squadron. “It uses some of the best attributes of our old vests with some modern twists,” he said.

The AFSFC funded the initial 87 vests for Vance Defenders. 

Among the improvements in the vest is padding in both the shoulders and the hips, said Master Sgt. Jessica Dahmen, the 71st SFS logistics section chief.

“The hip padding helps reduce the impact of the heavy armor plates when running,” she said, “which will prevent a lot of potential back injuries.”

Granger likes the additional padding in the vest. It helps relieve some of the strain when wearing the vest for extended periods of time, he said.

The armor plates inside the old body armor tended to shift inside the carrier, said Dahmen. The new vest features a pouch specifically designed for the plate so it fits snugly and doesn’t shift. 

The Velcro in the new vest appears sturdier, said Granger. Senior Airman Tristan Ramos with the 71st SFS agrees. He has been test-wearing the vest for several weeks.

“The vest is easier to adjust and holds the configuration I prefer,” said Ramos. “The old vest would loosen up if you were active.”

A feature of the new vest that will be critical on the battle field is a quick release tab. When that tab is pulled, the vest literally falls apart, said Dahmen, allowing quick access for treating injuries.

Even though the vest is very adjustable, it comes in a variety of sizes, from extra-small to extra-large.

After a couple of tries, Ramos settled for a size small. “It fits just right, protecting all vital areas,” he said. “The way it conforms to your body is almost like an extra layer of clothes, making it easier to get in and out of vehicles.”

The vests can be configured for different level of protection based on the mission, said Dahmen.

For Level One protection, it can carry the second-chance flexible material. For Level Two, a plate can be added. More armor can be added as the need for protection increases. Plates to protect the wearer’s sides are also available.

While the MSV offers a better fit for all Airmen the Security Forces Center plans to deploy tactical body armor specially designed to fit women although there is no date yet for its release.