SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs
Date: December 10, 2007
Interacting to improve
Mass. -- On Nov. 8, two Soldiers from the Fort Drum, N.Y., Light
Fighter School, who had recently returned from Afghanistan, visited
the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering
Center (NSRDEC), to learn about the work done here and to provide
their input to the Natick researchers.
intent of the visit is to create a better working relationship in
order to get better feedback," said the host for the event, Sgt. 1st
Class Benjamin Lewis, Operational Forces Interface Group (OFIG),
a short welcome and a briefing about the work done in OFIG, the
visitors got a chance to see a demonstration of the Future Force
Warrior program and then discuss load carriage issues and the
current MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment)
Landry, equipment designer, said it was helpful to talk to the
Soldiers. "We try to figure out what works [for the Soldier]," he
said. "However, what we come up with and what they need are not
always the same."
Sgt. Lloyd Smith, one of the visiting Soldiers, mentioned that
previously he had made his own modifications to the load carriage
system. Landry said it would be helpful for the researchers to see
the type of alterations Smith made. He continued by saying he hoped
he could meet with the Soldiers again, whether at Fort Drum or at
Natick, to discuss this type of information.
tour continued at the NSRDEC footwear performance lab, where the
visitors got a chance to see improvements being made to boots and
gloves. They mentioned how many members of their battalions ended up
buying commercial boots for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
lead project engineer for footwear programs at NSRDEC, Michael
Holthe, mentioned that NSRDEC personnel are not ignoring requests
from theater; however, the researchers are limited due to price and
the fact that they cannot purchase items outside the U.S.
gloves, Valerie Banville, handwear project engineer, said, "Nobody
can agree on gloves." She also mentioned requirements may not be the
same for everyone.
was a point that continually came up for Smith. The Army is trying
to have one item be the same for all, he said, but as we keep
finding out, different groups have different needs. Separate
elements should be treated differently.
mentioned the Modular Glove System, where three sets of gloves will
be replacing 13, and the fact that flame-resistance is now mandatory
for all gloves.
Feeding was the next stop, where the researchers got a chance to ask
the Soldiers about their time in Afghanistan, especially regarding
MREs and field-stripping.
and the other visiting Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Eben Duerr, both
returned from Afghanistan in May and said that when going on
missions, they often stripped the MREs and took just the candy,
cakes, and other sugary items out to take with them, often throwing
out the main meal.
said they usually didn't have time to have meals, so they tried to
grab items with high sugar to keep them going.
Combat Feeding, Duerr and Smith got to learn about the First Strike
Ration (FSR), which includes all eat-on-the-go type items. Duerr
agreed that for their type of missions, that would have been a
better fit. "There is no time ever to sit, stop and have meals,"
also got a chance to learn about the Unitized Group Ration - Express
(UGR-E), which is sometimes described as a 'kitchen in a carton.'
This gives a small group of Soldiers the chance to have a hot
meal without a field kitchen.
next presentation was a briefing on the Joint Precision Airdrop
System (JPADS) and Low-Cost Low-Altitude (LCLA)
wrap up their day, the visitors got a chance to discuss improvements
being made in ballistic protection and helmets. Janet Ward,
ballistics team leader, said the researchers are constantly looking
to see if they can keep the same weight but improve the protection,
or lower the weight and offer the current protection.
said they have no problems with the current helmet. "Nine Soldiers
from my battalion took rounds to the head and they all survived," he
and Smith both agreed their preferred choice would be for the
material to be lighter but offer the same
said that he and Duerr have been assigned as a sort of R&D
element to "see what's going on or is new out there for Soldiers,"
and hope to do more of these types of visits in the