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Posts Tagged ‘Natick Soldier Systems Center’

BG Daniel P. Hughes Appointed as Commander of Natick

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John McHugh has announced that BG Daniel P. Hughes will assume the post of Commanding General of Natick and will simultaneously serve as the Deputy Commanding General of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

In September, 2012 BG John McGuiness left the command and it has been under the interim authority of John Obusek, a DA civilian and retired Colonel. As the only active duty military installation in New England, it is good to see Natick once again commanded by a General Officer.


US Army Interested in Field Solutions to Soldier Camouflage

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

In a Request for Information released last week entitled, “Request for Information on Field Solutions to Soldier Camouflage: Identify in-the-field solutions/materials that will give Soldiers the ability to improve/adjust camouflage uniforms and equipment to better match the specific terrain” the US Army has cast a net seeking “for on-the-spot/field solutions that can be applied to the baseline uniform that will provide for better visual/near-infrared blending for specific areas. These solutions will have the capability to adjust camouflage uniforms and Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) in-the-field to provide enhanced performance in specific sites of conflict.”

During the Q&A portion of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort industry day, PEO Soldier officials specifically ruled out such nontraditional solutions for the program which concentrates on a family of printed camouflage patterns for clothing and individual equipment. Apparently, they’ve realized that even three patterns (Temperate, Woodland and Desert) won’t even be specific enough for every environment and that there will be a requirement for even more specific patterns. Considering how long it has taken to make this camo program happen, I don’t blame them. A conflict could well be over before a development program could even begin let alone see its way to completion.

There’s another interesting aspect to this RFI. If a solution is identified, it could allow the Army to retain a single pattern and just rely on the site specific camo technology for anything that doesn’t match well.

Having said all of that I have to mention that I’m not sure what happened, but the Army I was in, way back in the 80s taught Soldiers to utilize natural materials from their local environment to further camouflage themselves. This really might be more of a ‘Training’ issue than a ‘Material’ one (DOTMLPF). I’ve noticed a lot of field craft has gone by the wayside. I don’t know if the Army has forgotten lessons learned, leaders aren’t enforcing standards or the Army is just plain tired after 10 years at war.

At any rate, if you’ve got some great ideas, then check out the RFI and let the Army know about it.

US Army IOTV Laundering Saves $62 Million

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

A few years ago there was a major shortage of Improved Outer Tactical Vest body armor systems. Two members of the Soldier Equipment Support Team, Life Cycle Logistics, Product Support Integration Directorate, Integrated Logistics Support Center, Natick Soldier Systems Center, studied the best way to commercially clean, rather than replace, IOTV garments. Willie Yung and Jason Sellazzo (seen above) found a method that has already saved the Army more than $62 million over two years.

They conducted a one-year study, sponsored by Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment, in 2009-2010, using 90 IOTVs from the Central Issue Facility at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The vests were separated into nine groups of 10 each in three classifications: lightly, moderately and heavily soiled.

After the IOTVs were commercially cleaned three times each using four different methods in Nashville, Tennessee, they were sent to the Textile Materials Evaluation Team at Natick. Testing there revealed that commercial cleaning of IOTV components using “computer-controlled wet cleaning” was safe, effective, would result in huge cost savings over replacement, and would help ease any shortage of vests in theater.

“In 2010 and 2011, the Central Management Office has cleaned a total of 145,000 IOTVs,” Yung said. “And we estimate that by cleaning them, we have helped avoid spending over $62 million, because if they could not be cleaned, then the Army would have to buy new ones to replace them.”

Natick is currently working on a new contract to continue this money saving process. They are also looking at expanding the cleaning to other OCIE items beyond just the IOTV.

Attention Soldier Systems Industry Partners

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

As key partners who understand the significant impact our military installations have on the community and economy in Massachusetts – especially in the MetroWest region, SSD has been asked on behalf of the Warrior Protection & Readiness Coalition to invite you to join Lt. Governor Tim Murray, Chairman of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, and state officials for a roundtable discussion about the importance of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, its partners, and the defense industry in the state. We highly encourage anyone from our industry who will be in the Boston area on Monday to attend. A special thank you to the Morse Institute Library for hosting this important discussion.

Discussion with Lt. Governor Murray and the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force

Monday April 23 at 11:45 a.m.

Morse Institute Library, Meeting Hall, 14 East Central Street, Natick

To this post by Sunday April 22 with your name, job title, and association. Email

This is a public event but please RSVP.

For more information on the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force visit

Personal Augmentation Technology – Call for White Papers

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The US Army Research Development Engineering Command, Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), Natick, MA, is conducting a Request for Information for Concept (White) Papers on Personal Augmentation Technologies for the Warfighter and Homeland Defender.

They are interested in technologies and concepts that provide improvements in strength, endurance and/or ergonomics while maintaining user safety and reducing muscular fatigue, physical injury, and soreness during various load carriage and various tasks, are of interest. Example load carriage tasks include heavy and repetitive lifting, load transport, and difficult load tasks in unique environments. Ease of use and integration with current and future user clothing and individual mission equipment are factors of interest. Long operating life from a reliable power source, and low cost are also factors of interest.

There are 4 specific personal augmentation technology types sought:
1. Agility – Lightweight, low-powered, quick reaction physiological assist device for dismounted users. Injury reduction, high mobility, and endurance are key focuses.
2. Support – Physiological assist device that helps wearer to conduct sustainment and logistics tasks including heavy supply lifting, loading, unloading, and transporting at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) or alike. Injury reduction, strength assist, and throughput/production augmentation are key focuses.
3. Extreme Support – Specialized physiological assist device designed for specific tasks in extreme environments. Able to interface with special tools to conduct specific tasks. Example users include wild land firefighters and urban search and rescue. Injury reduction, strength assist, and high mobility are key focuses.
4. Depot / Industrial – Specialized physiological assist device designed for specific tasks in unique depot environments. Able to interface with special tools to conduct specific tasks. Injury, stress, and fatigue reduction and throughput/production augmentation are key focuses.

Interested parties have until March 31 to submit white papers in accordance with NSRDEC Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 11-13, under topic # C16- Future Warrior Technology Integration, which can be found at Proprietary information will not be shared outside of the Government.

Check out the solicitation on FBO.

Army Preparing to Produce Baseline Camo Gear for Testing

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Natick has released a Special Notice making known their intent to “negotiate on a sole source basis with Beyond Clothing, LLC” to produce 310 sets of “AOR 1/2 Fabric (50/50 Nyco), Helmet Covers, Pants and Blouses. These uniforms are among the baseline uniforms required for camouflage testing and evaluation.”

Army-style uniforms and OCIE do not exist in the AOR 1 & 2 patterns. What’s more, the patterns are restricted, so any gear must be manufactured by a company already certified to handle the fabric. OCP, or as it is commercially known, MultiCam is the other baseline pattern for the upcoming field trial phase of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort. Due to its use in Afghanistan, there is already an ample supply of the equipment available.

One interesting note. Currently, OCP is only issued as the FR ACU and not the standard FR ACU. While much work has been done to color match dyed TenCate’s Defender-M fabric used to manufacture the FR ACU, the pattern may look differently than it would when printed on 50/50 NYCO. This is a variance that will have to be considered in performance unless the Army also pursues the acquisition of an adequate number of OCP NYCO test uniforms. If they are commercially sourced, further care will need to be taken that such uniforms are not in the so-called MultiCam VS print which does not provide NIR protection.

These ‘baseline’ Government issue patterns will be pitted against four commercial families of patterns to determine the best performer and possible new Army issue camouflage.

The commercial finalists are:
ADS Inc as Prime, partnered with Guy Cramer
Brookwood Companies
Crye Precision

Attempted Infiltration at Natick

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Yesterday, five men attempted to gain entry to Natick Soldiers System Center using fake ID cards. All five men were in their early 20s and were probably attempting to gain access in order to commit criminal activity. However, due to the sensitive nature of research at Natick officials aren’t taking any chances.

According to a WCVB TV report, “If you don’t have like a security sticker or military ID, your car is searched, and one of the things they didn’t have was the proper ID. They noticed a couple of them were fake,” said Natick Labs spokesman John Harlow.

The perpetrators were arrested after being found with fake IDs, 40 counterfeit credit cards and stolen electronics that included nine laptops, two iPods, a Playstation game and alarm clocks.

The best part is the defense attorney’s assertion that the men weren’t up to anything nefarious. Oh no, they were in the area for a party. Even better was the excuse of one of the accused. He claimed to be a member of the Guard and was trying to gain entry to purchase uniform items. Classic.

US Army Seeking Individual Water Purification Systems

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Natick is conducting a market survey for US Army PEO Soldier’s Product Manager-Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment domestic products, suppliers and manufacturers of individual water treatment/purification systems. Additionally, industry should expect a solicitation to purchase such technologies in the next 60-120 days.

Their interest runs the whole gamut of purification systems from standard bacterial and viral removal to dealing with turbidity and industrial waste. Additionally, they’d like info on systems that are designed for salt and brackish water.

Specifically, they are seeking info on systems with these attributes:

“The U.S. Army is interested in identifying firms with products, technologies, and capabilities to provide a man-packable, water treatment/purification system for Individual Soldier use in purifying water (for drinking) from indigenous fresh water sources in basic, hot and cold environments. The system shall be compatible with current and future organizational clothing and equipment such as the MOLLE Hydration System, standard military canteen, and/or both.

Purification systems sought must be lightweight (not to exceed 1lb. dry), easy to use/clean/maintain, low bulk/compact, capable of producing microbiologically purified water in its operational life with/without purification element replacement and meeting the volume capacities of Soldier hydration needs (135 liters). It shall have an unused service life of 180 days and should include an indicator of service life status; it shall be storage stable for 5 years and be environmentally-safe during use and subsequent disposal. It shall have the capability to resist freezing or withstand freezing without damage. Freeze/Thaw cycle testing should be conducted according to MIL-STD-810 (Method 524), “Department of Defense Test Method Standard for Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests”. The device shall remove or resist growth and build-up of mold, mildew and bio-films. It shall be durable to a 6 foot drop and 300 pound load(static and dynamic).

The device must be capable of disinfecting and/or removing microbiological contaminants to levels mandated by the HQDA Technical Bulletin, Medical 577 (TB MED 577). Pathogen reduction capabilities must be documented through laboratory testing to the NSF International P248 Protocol for “Emergency Military Operations Microbiological Water Purifiers” (bacterial removal to 6-log, viral removal to 4-log, and protozoan cyst removal to 3-log) or better with all test plans, data, and test reports validated by the U.S. Army Public Health Command (USAPHC). The water purification time must be 20 minutes or less (objective less than 15 minutes) with a flow rate of not less than 200 mL/min. Batteries, if used, must be a commercially-available type and of weight and bulk compatible with the overall device requirements for weight and bulk.

Consideration will also be given to removal of toxic industrial chemicals/materials to US Army short-term potability standards (TB Med 577) from fresh water sources, removal of chemical/biological warfare agents (desired), and reducing turbidity (less than 1 NTU). Processed water shall be palatable with taste/flavor as in commercial bottled spring or municipal waters. Additional consideration will be given to devices capable of desalination and purification from seawater and brackish water sources.”

If you’ve got a system, you’ve got until 9 March to let the Government know. Actual requirements for solicitations are often derived from the information received through these RFIs so it’s important to participate in the process.

BAE Systems Celebrates the 15 Millionth MOLLE Component

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Yesterday, tt a ceremony in their factory in McKee, Kentucky, BAE Systems celebrated the production of their 15 Millionth MOLLE component. In fact, about 10 million of those components originated at that very facility. It’s hard to believe but MOLLE itself is almost 15 years old. Developed in 1997 in conjunction with the US Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, MOdular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment or MOLLE is a system of individual load carrying components used primarily by the US Army. The heart of the system is the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) standard that allows the equipment to be tailored to the mission by configuring various vests, packs and armor carriers or “platforms”, as they are known, with specialized pockets and pouches to carry equipment. The beauty of MOLLE is that it is spirally developed. As new technologies and weapons are fielded, MOLLE can adapt by adding or dropping pouches and platforms. Not only has this happened several times over the life of the program but it has been fielded in no-less-than four camouflage patterns: Woodland, 3-Color Desert, UCP, and OCP. Associated systems such as the USMC’s ILBE, USAF DF-LCS, and SOCOM’s SOF-LCS as well as individual components have been produced in even more styles and colorways, but have all relied on PALS.

The original MOLLE Core Rifleman set incorporated a rucksack, load bearing vest, and pouches and included the so-called “probe and socket,” a quick-release between the pack frame and waist belt that might have been a little ahead of its time. The currently issued system includes a one-size-fits-all load bearing vest, Pack with and a fixed waist belt and a Tactical Assault Panel (TAP).

On hand at the event was Don Dutton, Vice President of BAE Systems’ Protection Systems. He related, “The MOLLE system provides users with a completely customizable set of equipment which allows for readiness, mobility and efficiency of the warfighter, reaching a milestone such as the production of 15 million components, is an exceptional achievement for BAE Systems and its employees to achieve. Our employees come to work each day knowing that the work they do, is helping our warfighters overseas.”

Also attending the celebration were Representative Marie Rader (R-Kentucky), U.S. Congressman, Harold Rogers (R-Kentucky), Major General Ed Tonini, The Adjutant General for the Kentucky National Guard and Sergeant Major Charles Williams of PM Soldier Protection & Individual Equipment.

“Job well done to the fine BAE Systems employees hard at work in Jackson County. This is a remarkable achievement,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “Not only are these McKee sewing technicians making our region proud through exceptional craftsmanship, but they’re helping our warfighters stay well equipped and battle-ready with light-weight, adjustable gear. This work not only creates good paying jobs in southern and eastern Kentucky, but builds the security of our nation.”

Outfitting Soldiers Head to Toe

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Here’s a good article on what the folks at Natick do for the American Soldier.

Photo: Bob Reinart – US Army