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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: November 8, 2005
No: 05-49

SSC pitches in to help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

NATICK, Mass. -- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, several tenant organizations located at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here are pitching in to help with hurricane relief. These efforts are being tracked continuously by the Natick Operations Center.


The Combat Feeding Directorate, part of the Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC), provided 55 cases of surplus Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to the relief effort. The MREs provide hot, nutritious and good-tasting meals to meet the needs of rescue workers operating in an environment where meal preparation is not feasible.

The MRE cases contained 12 meals each and were given to the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council Special Tactics and Response Team, an Eastern Massachusetts police organization which traveled to New Orleans to share personnel and resources and to perform rescue and recovery operations. The response team is made up of more than 40 police departments, including the town of Natick.

“To be asked to help and have been given the authority by U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) to do so in a very responsive fashion, was extremely gratifying,” said Gerald Darsch, Director of Combat Feeding.

MREs were developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate in the early 1980s. The Combat Feeding Directorate has since worked continuously to update the meals to provide optimum nutrition, improve taste, and to reflect the preferences of servicemen and women.

The meals meet the Office of the Surgeon General’s nutritional requirements and are packaged to withstand airdrop, rough handling, and temperature extremes. The meals provided by the Combat Feeding Directorate were purchased by the Combat Feeding Directorate from the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, part of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The Combat Feeding Directorate purchases MREs every year to use as a control when testing new MRE menus.

In a completely separate effort, millions of the Natick-developed MREs have also been distributed by DLA directly.


A prototype Wide Span Airbeam Shelter, developed by the Natick Soldier Center, has been deployed to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) relief efforts. The shelter has been set up at DHS’s Forward Deployed Operations Command Center of the Customs and Border Protection in Hammond, La. The shelter, which is being loaned to DHS by NSRDEC, will be used to store relief equipment and supplies.

The shelter’s inflatable arch or airbeam technology provides the Army and Air Force with a faster, simpler alternative to metal frames. The rapidly deployable shelter dramatically reduces set-up and take-down time. In Hammond, a contractor-directed, untrained DHS team had the shelter standing in less than 24 labor hours.

“The Hurricane Katrina relief effort was the perfect application for our airbeam shelter technology where quick deployment time was critical. They couldn’t wait a week to get a large commercial shelter standing. We were pleased to be able to participate by providing our first science and technology prototype Wide Span Airbeam Shelter for storage of relief supplies. As DHS initially wanted to purchase shelters, we hope to develop a partnership to mature the technology and provide DHS shelters for future deployment,” said Jean Hampel, a senior mechanical engineer at NSRDEC.

Softwall Shelters

In support of Joint Task Force Katrina, NSRDEC has updated and deployed two Early Entry Logistic Support Element (LSE) Systems (EELS) in support of AMC’s LSE operations in Louisiana. The EELS is a softwall shelter system that provides a working/living space for 15 to 20 people. The two EELS deployed to Louisiana each contain a Modular Command Post Tent System, power distribution system, lights, tables, chairs, as well as environmental control units (ECU) and solar shades. The EELS were set up at the New Orleans International Airport and Fort Polk, La.

“It was extremely fulfilling to get the opportunity to send support. At the same time it has been disappointing not to be able to send more. Whether it is for a Soldier or a family, you cannot help but feel gratified when your program can help to improve the living or working environment for someone else,” said EELS Program Manager Karen Buehler.

Containerized Life Support Systems and Force Provider

Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS) has provided ongoing support to Joint Task Force Katrina efforts by deploying both equipment and a hands-on technical assistance team to Louisiana.

PM FSS has provided Containerized Life Support Systems, including shower, latrine, field feeding and laundry capabilities in support of 7000 Soldiers, who are assisting in the relief effort.

Thus far, PM FSS has been responsible for deploying 46 Containerized Latrine Systems, 26 Containerized Shower Systems, and eight Containerized Batch Laundry Systems.

PM FSS also provided one Force Provider All-Electric Kitchen, one Force Provider Potable Water Kit and one Force Provider Waste Water Kit.

Force Provider is a containerized, highly deployable base camp that is capable of supporting troops in any environment. Force Provider includes quality-of-life items, including advanced laundry, shower, latrine, kitchen and billeting systems, as well as religious and morale, welfare and recreation facilities. The entire Force Provider base camp is temperature-controlled. PM FSS also deployed a four-man Technical Assistance Team to assist in coordination and set-up of the deployed equipment. 

Force Provider Logistics Support

The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC) provided a four-man team to assist the PM FSS in support of Hurricane Katrina. The team assisted in validating paperwork, accountability and inventory on all Force Provider equipment on the ground, according to Maj. Joseph Lusk, team leader for the Sustainment Technical Assistance Team.

The ILSC team assisted PM FSS with the setup and taking down of Force Provider equipment in support of the 82nd Airborne Division, which has been deployed to Louisiana. The team also coordinated with PM FSS on logistical requirements for more than 681 containers and 150 truckloads of Force Provider equipment. 

Working together with PM-FSS, team members ensured trucks, paperwork, and equipment were inventoried and packed and shipped to proper destinations.

“It is a great feeling knowing that you are making a difference in somebody’s life and making them feel a bit better with a warm shower and a warm meal,” said Lusk.


The ILSC also provided three generators to a nursing home and another one to a sewer plant.

Mobile Kitchen Trailers

ILSC’s Soldier Support Systems Team expedited the delivery of 32 Mobile Kitchen Trailers (MKTs).

The MKTs were delivered from the RESET line at Letterkenny Army Depot to units in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

The equipment was deployed to Louisiana to provide hot meals for Soldiers participating in relief efforts. MKTs are capable of feeding 250 people and are rugged enough to be used on various types of terrain and in austere conditions.

Aerial Delivery Support

The ILSC Aerial Delivery Equipment Group provided the relief effort with 565 25K cargo sling assemblies and ten 10K helicopter cargo nets.

Mattox Turman, team leader for Cargo Parachutes in the Aerial Delivery Equipment Group, noted in an article in the October issue of Aerial Delivery Magazine, the cargo sling assembly provides the capability to move cargo loads from point to point using rotary wing aircraft.

The slings transported hundreds of sandbags to close a 200-foot gap in the 17th Street Canal Levee.

Gloria Wooten-Standard, the Aerial Delivery Equipment Group senior team leader, stated that, “The Aerial Delivery Equipment Group is elated to be a part of such an enormous effort, and we stand ready to continue to support this catastrophic event in any way possible.”

For more information about Soldier Systems Center or any of its tenant organizations, please visit the website:

This page last updated on 23 January 2004.