Military Clothing and Protective Material: Protection at the Limits of Physiological Regulation

Part of the Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials book series (SMTEB, volume 19)


Contemporary military environments almost invariably require the use of personal protective clothing and equipment, and the burden accompanying its use can sometimes challenge the integrated regulation of critical physiological variables, pushing some individuals to the limits of regulation. Indeed, it is not uncommon for work to be prematurely terminated due to cardiovascular insufficiency. In such states, operational capability is reduced. In this Chapter, four topics will be addressed, including the impact of battle-dress uniforms, ballistic protection, undergarment moisture management, and chemical and biological protection. The principal emphasis is upon thermal and cardiovascular regulation in the person-clothing-environment system. For battle-dress uniforms, body heat storage is modelled using thermodynamics algorithms, with a three-dimensional summary presented to identify combinations of work rates and thermal exposures that yield positive heat storage. When ballistic protection is considered, one must evaluate both the impact of the added mass and the impediment it presents for dry and evaporative heat exchanges. Various moisture management practices are being marketed to address these matters. However, evidence will be presented that these do not offer measurable thermoregulatory or perceptual benefits when used beneath battle dress and ballistic protection in operational simulations. Finally, the most stressful scenario relates to protecting individuals from chemical, biological and radiological challenges. Indeed, working in such encapsulating ensembles can only be tolerated for short durations without supplementary cooling.


Clothing Layer Metabolic Heat Production Physiological Strain Evaporative Heat Loss Body Armour 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The invaluable contributions from the dedicated and enthusiastic students and colleagues of the authors, particularly Joanne Caldwell, Alison Fogarty and Anne van den Heuvel, are acknowledged and greatly appreciated. Research from the authors’ laboratories summarised in this communication was supported by funding from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (Australia) and Fire & Rescue New South Wales (Australia). The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, or the Australian Government.

Conflict of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Human and Applied Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Land DivisionDefence Science and Technology OrganisationMelbourneAustralia

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