SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: March 12, 2008
Ribbon cutting ceremony held for world-class facility
Pictured left to right: Dr.
Marilyn Freeman, director, Natick Soldier Research, Development
and Engineering Center; Daniel O'Connell, secretary of Housing
and Economic Development for the State of Massachusetts; Rocco
DiRico, deputy district director, Office of Congressman Edward
Markey; and Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, commanding general, U.S.
Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) and Program Executive Officer
Soldier; prepare to cut the ribbon during a ceremony for the
center's Thermal Test Facility on March 7.(Photo
by Sarah Underhill)|
Click for Larger Photo
NATICK, Mass. -- On
March 7, the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here held a
ribbon cutting ceremony for the Thermal Test Facility (TTF). This
facility will provide the center’s researchers with unprecedented
capabilities to evaluate the effect of flame and thermal threats
against protective clothing and individual equipment. It also will
assist in the development of new and improved materials for flame
and thermal protection for the individual Soldier.
Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, commanding general, SSC and Program
Executive Officer Soldier, said the facility was brought about as a
byproduct of war.
Flame weapons and injuries have been around since ancient times, he
commented. Since Archimedes threw oil fireballs onto Roman ships,
through the use of flamethrowers in World War II, then as we moved
into the 20th century with the increase of mechanics and
fuels, flame threats have always been an issue. Currently, we see
the need for this type of work as jihadists use
incendiary improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
“This new facility will be an important asset for our researchers,”
Brown said. “It will allow us to consolidate this work in one
location.” Previously, the work was not only done at Natick, but at
other facilities throughout the state and country.
Brown expressed gratitude for the work done at the center, saying
that he was speaking for Soldiers around the world.
Rocco DiRico, deputy district director for Congressman Edward
Markey, spoke on behalf of the Congressman. Markey had supported the
plans for the TTF since conception.
DiRico said that the SSC is a national asset that is consistently
protecting those who serve. “Congressman Markey is honored to
represent [N]SSC in Congress,” he said, as all of you at the center
work to protect the American Soldier at home and abroad. “Thank you
for all your hard work supporting the Soldier.”
The Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the State of
Massachusetts, Daniel O’Connell, also spoke.
Cooperation between government, both state and federal, business and
academia was the main focus of O’Connell’s comments. He said that
having this type of collaboration leads to good things not only for
Soldiers, but also for Massachusetts. “Good things happen when
government, all government, business and academia work together for
a common goal.” The SSC has always worked that way, he said, with
all organizations contributing.
Speaking on behalf of the Governor, O’Connell said that the state is
committed to the “growth and success of the center.” They want to
ensure they are helping our Soldiers be the best in the world.
The last speaker before the ribbon cutting was Dr. Marilyn Freeman,
director of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering
Freeman said that in addition to the Soldiers themselves, the NSRDEC
also benefits from having this new facility. “We are giving the
scientists and engineers a world-class facility,” she said.
Surviving flame, fire and heat is not something we think about
everyday, she commented. But it is something our service members
have to live with every day. It takes special equipment and
innovation to figure out how to protect them. “We can’t keep
Soldiers out of harm’s way, but we can help to keep them as safe as
She mentioned some of the capabilities of the facility, including
manikins that travel through heat and flame, flames that will come
from underneath items, labs that analyze threats and laser work.
We know we can perform state-of-the-art flame work in the facility,
she continued, and we can see whether the flame will burn,
extinguish itself, or explode. We can also see if a confined item
can stand up to heat without catching fire.
Although the military will be the primary users, Freeman commented
that she saw both first responders and industry being interested in
utilizing the facility. “This is a very, very important piece
of work,” she said.
Freeman thanked everyone who helped with making the facility
possible, especially those who concentrated on ensuring safety.
After the ribbon cutting, subject matter experts were on hand to
explain the various areas and their capabilities throughout the
The facility is anticipated to be fully operational in September
2008 and is the only
known facility in the nation that has the capability to test and
evaluate the thermal performance of milligram quantities of
materials through full scale systems such as clothing and tents.
Brown commented that there is to be a rededication ceremony for the
center on April 19, where the buildings and streets will be named
after Congressional Medal of Honor recipients with ties to
The TTF is to be named after Pfc. Joseph Ouellette, 9th
Infantry Regiment, who entered service in Lowell, Mass., and was
awarded his medal for “conspicuous
gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy” during the