SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: October 3, 2003
Senator Kennedy expresses support for SSC during visit
NATICK, Mass. -- Sen. Edward Kennedy called the Soldier Systems Center (SSC) "indispensable" and "an absolute jewel for the country" after a brief visit here in the Conference Center Sept. 18.
Kennedy, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a strong national defense is composed of top-notch training, leadership, technology and family support, and it's at the SSC where the nation upholds technological superiority.
"We need to have the best technology, and that's done extremely well at Natick," he told reporters after addressing those in attendance, including local officials invited to the event.
On less than a day's notice, the itinerary for the senior senator consisted of an overview of the SSC and Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC) along with briefings on Objective Force Warrior, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine's (USARIEM) Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor (WPSM) and the National Protection Center.
After a barrage of facts and figures from the SSC briefing, and being reminded that the center is the only active Army installation in New England, Kennedy responded by saying, "You got me persuaded."
He frequently interrupted speakers, asking questions and getting clarification along the way. In one instance, he was told that the center has evolved from an Army-focused installation to a DoD, joint project installation in the past decade, a trend that started with Combat Feeding.
During the Natick Soldier Center overview, Director Philip Brandler informed Kennedy that the NSRDEC won the Army Research and Development Laboratory of the Year in 2001 and 2003, with 2002 not being a winning year because the organization didn't compete.
Among the products Kennedy was shown were body armor plates and helmets along with a spool of a new fiber that's shown potential for lowering the weight of body armor without lowering the protection. Also shown were the latest products for warfighter chemical and biological agent protection.
"I'm particularly interested…in bioterrorism (protection)," Kennedy said, after handling a chemical biological protective suit, and later, after the National Protection Center overview, expressing interest in transferring the technology to the Department of Homeland Security and encouraging the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to visit.
Perhaps just as important as the equipment worn or carried from the "skin out" is what happens physiologically from the "skin in," which is the concern of USARIEM. Studies results have an impact on training and design of equipment, and Kennedy learned about a specific piece of technology in the WPSM, which uses a "stoplight" approach to relay the physical condition of soldiers in the field to commanders.
After more than an hour's worth of information to digest, Kennedy took a few moments to speak to the group in attendance.
"This has been an extremely interesting session. You have a reputation of excellence, and I hope you know how important you are. You're the linchpin of security for our country," he said. "What makes the center important is the changing threat. This is a new world and a new challenge."
He added that Congress will do everything necessary to maintain support for the national defense and that he looks forward to supporting the SSC.
For more information about the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at http://www.natick.army.mil.