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Wearing the equipment that is supposed to protect you from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contamination sucks. It just does. Whether you know it as Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) or just as Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, it’s hot, it’s bulky, and it’s a hassle to carry around when there is little chance that it’s going to be used. It’s also very likely that it won’t match the camouflage pattern of the rest of your uniform. Perhaps a new version of the garments will make all that a little less miserable. 

Earlier this month, soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, took part in some testing of the two-piece undergarment — or 2PUG — that is projected to replace the JSLIST within a few years. 

The new gear is designed to be lighter than its predecessor and provide improved fitting and comfort, and better temperature regulation when worn. 

“We’re doing simple simulations by having the [trooper] wear the garments and move around in them while we take measurements,” Dr. Todd Garlie, a research anthropologist from U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command said in an Army press release. “It’s critical that we get Soldiers’ feedback on how the garments fit. If you don’t have good fitting equipment, you can’t perform your mission.”

In other words, the training was focused on seeing just how effectively soldiers can move around while wearing the 2PUG, which is important. 

The Army is testing out slightly less miserable CBRN gear
A U.S. Army Trooper assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment assumes a kneeling position with a dummy rifle while testing newly designed chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear protection equipment on Dec. 8, 2022, at Fort Hood, Texas. (Staff Sgt. Christopher Stewart/U.S. Army)

As retired Army Col. G.P. Kreuger wrote in the 2012 paper, Advances in Military Textiles and Personal Equipment, “Wearing CPC (chemical protective clothing) adversely affects the performance of tasks involving oral and visual communication, sensory (vision, hearing, kinesthetic, olfactory) and psychomotor activity, rifle marksmanship, aviator flying skills, and others.”

Rather than being an entirely separate set of gear, the 2PUG is designed to integrate into a soldier’s uniform. 

“It feels like you’re wearing a thicker set of pajamas,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Keel, a cavalry scout leader assigned to 4th Squadron, 3d Cavalry Regiment. “I think it’s a big improvement to the JSLIST.”

The Air Force has also been testing a similar set of CBRN equipment. In January 2022, airmen from the 317th Airlift Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas conducted flight operations, testing the functionality and comfortability of the 2PUG.

Should the Army, or its sibling services, move forward with the 2PUG, it would replace the JSLIST, commonly referred to as MOPP gear, currently in use by most troops, which was first fielded in 1997. 

No one, other than maybe a few contrarians out there, likes wearing MOPP gear. But if it can become even a little bit more comfortable, maybe even fit a little better and weigh a little less when it is being lugged around, well, that is a net positive. Giving it the appropriate camouflage pattern can probably wait until the next Army uniform change. 

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