SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: February 17, 2009
State leader discusses future
during visit to Soldier Systems Center
Michael Maffeo (right),
Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center,
discusses improvements in ballistic technology with
Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka during Spilka's
visit to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center on Feb.
11. (Photo by Anita Tobin.)
Click for Larger Photo
NATICK, Mass. -- The future was a main topic of discussion
during a Feb. 11 visit by Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka
to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) here. Spilka
was accompanied by her Constituency Services Director, Michele
Spilka received briefings and saw demonstrations on a variety
of NSSC projects and programs.
During an overview of the NSSC, Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller,
commanding general, spoke about the organization's future by
mentioning he would like to redefine the mission. Right now, when we
speak about the NSSC, we say it's the science behind the Soldier.
The Installation Board of Directors is working on what it should be;
what our purpose is, he said.
As Fuller is also the Program Executive Officer (PEO) Soldier,
he tied that in as well. At PEO Soldier we provide the very best to
the Soldier now, but what will that look like in the future? What
will Natick look like to support that?
Another topic mentioned during this briefing was a Science and
Technology Board, which is comprised of members from the government,
public sector, industry and academia, and is chaired by Dr. Marilyn
Freeman, director, Natick Soldier Research, Development and
Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the largest tenant on the NSSC.
Freeman mentioned that there needs to be a vision for the
future. My vision for the NSRDEC is that in 10, 15 or 20 years, it
will still be a viable, useful, adaptable center that when people
think of the Soldier, this is where they think of.
Spilka commented that the center is important to the Metrowest
area and the state. We have been working really hard to make sure it
is a stronghold not only for today, but for the future, she said.
During a presentation on ballistic technology, Spilka learned
about trade-offs with weight versus capability and changing threats.
She commented on technology in the future. She said, "Look how much
technology has changed in the past 10 years; in another 10 or 15
years who knows where we'll be."
An example of a future Soldier, the Soldier 2030 initiative,
was also demonstrated. Dutch DeGay, NSRDEC, commented that they like
to think of the initiative as a "concept car," and as a way to
"align everyone's work."
During a tour of one of NSSC's unique testing facilities, the
Doriot Climatic Chambers, Col. Kevin Keenan, commander, U.S. Army
Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), another NSSC
tenant, told Spilka about current and future USARIEM projects.
A study that was ongoing in the Chambers was measuring changes in
fat metabolism, cognitive skills, exercise performance and mood
during brief periods of normal-, under- or over-feeding of the
"This is an aspect I hadn't thought about," Spilka said. But
if you are in combat, this is really important. "You can have the
best armor, but if you can't function...".
A stop in the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) rounded out the
visit. Gerry Darsch, director, CFD, NSRDEC, said that the goal of
CFD is to maintain the cognitive and physical performance of
Warfighters, and even to try to improve that performance.
Having a chance to try some rations, Spilka said they were
The visitors learned about CFD's continuous improvement
program, how important packaging is to rations, and about the new
First Strike Ration (FSR). We knew Soldiers were field-stripping
their Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs), Darsch said, and the FSR has easy
to eat, on-the-move items.
Commenting on her entire visit, Spilka said, "There is so much
here, it really is fascinating."
Ted Welte, president and CEO of the Metrowest Chamber of
Commerce also attended the visit.