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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: February 17, 2009
No: 09-01

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.)

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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 Goldberg.

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 military.

"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 "delicious."

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.

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.