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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:  Public Affairs Office

Date: November 30, 2007
No: 07-44

Technology touted during visit by Army's Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey, speaks to Soldiers during his visit to the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., on Nov. 16. (Photo by Sarah Underhill.) 

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NATICK, Mass. -- On Nov. 16, the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey, visited the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here.

 His first stop was a meeting with the Natick Soldiers, from both the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) and the Headquarters Research and Development Detachment.

In the future the Army will be in many different places, persistent conflicts, he said, and a lot of complex environments. What you do here will assist to ensure our future leaders have the best equipment and protection.

"If we give you the right tools, we will make you adaptable and give you a decided advantage to be successful in the asymmetrical battlefield."

Next, Casey heard overview briefings on the Land Warrior program and SSC.

A display on some of the future technologies that are being worked on at the SSC followed.

Body armor advances, clothing collaboration, joint precision airdrop and combat feeding were the main areas highlighted.

While learning about the technological advances for the next generation of body armor, Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, commanding general of SSC and host of the visit, told Casey that there have been nine improvements to body armor and three improvements to helmets over the past three years.

Uniforms for the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Special Operation Forces (SOF) were shown as an example of how joint work for all the military services is performed at SSC. While looking at the example of the SOF's multi-pieced cold-weather Protective Combat Uniform, Casey commented that he remembered when everyone would go out and buy their own cold weather clothing.

Brown mentioned that one of the future projects the clothing team will be working on is a uniform for civilians who get deployed.

During a briefing on precision airdrop, Casey learned how the technology is minimizing risk for both the Air Force and for Soldiers on the ground. Richard Benney, division leader for the Aerial Delivery Equipment and Systems Division, said the technology lets us drop bundles very accurately so Soldiers don't have to leave a protected area in search of supplies.

Two new concepts in combat feeding to support the Warfighter on the asymmetrical battlefield were also shown. The Unitized Group Ration - Express, sometimes called a 'kitchen in a carton,' that provides a hot meal for up to 18 Warfighters in a remote location was displayed, down to the steam rising from the box when it is activated. Then, Casey got to sample some of the menu items from the First Strike Ration (FSR). FSR is an answer to the field-stripping that happens to Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE), and includes all eat-on-the-go foods such as pocket sandwiches.  "Not bad," was Casey's opinion of what he got to try.

A stop at the Doriot Climatic Chambers was next on the agenda. The chambers can reproduce environmental conditions occurring anywhere around the world. They can simulate temperature, humidity, wind, rainfall and solar radiation.

Col. Beau Freund, commander, USARIEM, and Casey discussed Human Research Volunteers (HRV) and how to improve recruitment of personnel for the program. Freund said that as a member of the medical community, without the HRVs, he wouldn't be able to do his work.

Another challenge mentioned was that the chambers need improvements, such as larger doors to accommodate items such as vehicles.

Closing out the day was a question and answer session. When asked why he was here, Casey said that he was in Massachusetts to attend a leader development program for generals where they learn about industry and transformation. "The Army is going through the largest transformation, so it's important to get our leaders properly trained," he said.

Once he knew he would be in the area, he wanted to take the opportunity to visit SSC to look at what was being done for Soldiers.

"I knew what they were doing was good," Casey said. "And this gave me a chance to see not only what they do for the Soldier, but for the Sailor, Marine and Coast Guard."

Another topic mentioned was the Army Family Covenant (AFC). The AFC is a commitment from Army leaders to increase the level and quality of services for military families. Casey said, "The forces are stressed, and it's affecting families. The covenant is a good way to demonstrate our support to the families."

He mentioned that in the past he has been quoted as saying that the Army is out of balance and consumed by current commitments.

Casey said, "We need to prep for success. SSC looks to the future and leads the way in technological advantage."

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.