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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: November 15, 2001
No: 01-60

Simplifying religious support to soldiers

Natick, Mass. --- Ministering to troops in the field will be simplified with the Chaplaincy Logistical Support Package developed by Product Manager-Soldier Support at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick).

The package is a light yet durable container that enables brigade and battalion unit ministry teams to perform their religious support missions for troops in any environment.

"It gets all their stuff to their deployed location and then serves as a workstation and portable altar for the duration of their mission," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Ben Richardson, Soldier Systems Center chaplain. "Whatever a chaplain needs to take to the field to support his or her ministry is served with this item."

The package consists of a water and dust-resistant olive-drab plastic desk, removable plastic table, folding metal and cloth chair, and a set of washable altar linens.

Four different colored hangings for various seasons in the Christian church year along with the linens are carried in a bag.

The chair and bag carrying the linens fit underneath the removable table, and the table is then attached to the desk for portability. Two handles are on each side for easy maneuverability.

The top desk drawers are lockable, and fit a unit-supplied laptop computer and printer.

Four deep drawers beneath them are designed to carry two chaplain resupply kits along with peripheral devices, manuals, publications, forms, bond paper and related supplies.

Richardson said that in the past, chaplains used anything they could get into their vehicle to bring supplies.

Some used cardboard boxes and others used footlockers. As a minimum, they would normally take one or two resupply kits, containing items such as rosaries, Muslim head coverings, communion wine and wafers, Bibles and other items to support soldiers' faith.

Now chaplains won't have to contend with an unstable cardboard box or heavy footlocker, and they can tailor the load according to their ministry needs.

"The box itself won't fit into the desk, but (the contents) can be split up between the drawers," Richardson said. "For instance, I'm Baptist, so I don't require very much wine for my services, while a Catholic priest uses only wine for his services, so that is all he'll want to take."

He said the space for the laptop computer is especially helpful when a chaplain has arrived in the field and wants to securely store it.

The package improves transporting the unit ministry team's supplies to the field, but it also functions as a workstation once the team arrives.

Ministry teams can use the desk and table to work on service bulletins, write letters of condolence or conduct other administrative tasks. It's lighter than wooden desks and is weather-resistant.

The accompanying table can be attached to the desk using two legs or stand on four legs independent from the desk.

Telescoping legs lock into four positions at a maximum height of 40 inches and can accommodate taller individuals using the table as a work area. The chair stores flat but unfolds in two steps to provide a reasonably comfortable place to sit with a single piece of cloth on the seat and back.

Besides helping with everyday tasks, the table readily converts into an altar for worship services. By extending the legs to the tallest point and placing the linen and altar items, chaplains can lead a worship service almost anywhere.

"That height is critical for a Catholic priest who stands behind the altar using a liturgy," Richardson said. "For a Baptist, it's not as important. Before CLSP, chaplains had to borrow a field table or conduct services off the hood of a vehicle."

He said a portable altar more than twice the size of the Chaplaincy Logistical Support Package table is available, but its size and single-purpose use are drawbacks.

Twenty-four Chaplaincy Logistical Support Packages were evaluated by unit ministry teams serving with Army, Navy and Marine Corps units in locations around the world. Richardson said users were surprised by the sturdiness of the table and were pleased with it overall.

"I think that Navy chaplains serving with the Marine Corps will be a significant customer because they have limited cargo space when they pack for deployment on ships," Richardson said. "Having a multifunctional item has a great deal of appeal to them."

The package does not replace the new Army field desk and will be available in 2002 for unit purchase through Defense Supply Center-Philadelphia.

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 website at