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U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
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: March 15, 2001
No: 01-16

Commander's Smart Book

NATICK, Mass. -- Army leaders will have a centralized source of information on combat service support equipment and systems with the Commander's Smart Book.

A compilation of facts and figures on various products, the Smart Book enlightens commanders on what's available and how to get it, and is especially helpful during deployments in isolated locations.

"It's a good idea because some commanders don't know what's out there," said Steve Nye, equipment specialist for 21st Century Fabric Structures at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick). "This helps them to improve the quality of life for soldiers and lets them know we're there to help them."

The idea sparked last August, after the Forces Command chief of staff had returned from a deployment to Albania.

He was disappointed with the supply and ordering system, according to Nye. The chief of staff noticed that commanders didn't know what was available to them, and when they knew what they wanted, the delivery method could be delayed. "He thought there should be a book that details upcoming and currently available products that units could use," Nye said. "The impetus was shelters and heaters, but the book grew to include combat soldier support items, things that improve the lives of soldiers."

The book is a three-ring binder that started with 20 pages and has grown to about 80 pages. As a type of "consumer guide" for brigade commanders, it contains current items and products that will become available within two years.

The focus is on items developed by the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command's Natick Soldier Center, but items developed by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., are also included. Sections are divided into field services, shelters, non-powered heaters, powered heaters, generators and powered distribution, and Military Operations in Urban Terrain products.

Several sections have a buyer's guide that lists an overview of key characteristics, safety considerations or both. For instance, the non-powered heaters section notes that they are multi-fuel operated and cautions against using commercial unvented kerosene heaters.

"The commercial market doesn't have to be as concerned about wear and tear as the military does," Nye said. "The products developed by the military have been tested to meet military needs and safety requirements."

Updates are planned for every six months. The book contents will also be offered on a CD-ROM, both with an initial run of 200 copies. Nye said having a book is important because the pages can be updated easily and can be quickly handed over to the person ordering the products to limit any confusion. Much of the information about these products is already in publication, but the Smart Book brings all the pieces together.

Most of the product sheets in the book list the National Stock Number, and the name and location of the manufacturer. Phone numbers of the project officers are printed on the sheets if there are questions.

Individual soldier items are not included because they would increase the book into an unmanageable size, Nye said. The Smart Book was produced through the efforts of the U.S. Army Materiel Command Field Assistance in Science and Technology, Product Manager-Soldier Support, Natick Soldier Center, Natick's Business and Management Office and Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Natick is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or the Soldier Systems Center (Natick), please visit our web site at