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Posts Tagged ‘Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition’

Silynx Hosts Congressman Roscoe Bartlett

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Last week was a big week for those in the Soldier Systems industry. Not only was there a panel of Congressmen who spoke on the subject organized by the WPRC, but there were also meetings between industry and members of Congress to discuss the importance of individual protection initiatives in light of the current federal budget.

Silynx Communications, Inc also had the privilege of welcoming Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, for a tour of its research and development facilities. The meeting included a discussion on ways to ensure the men and women in uniform are equipped with the best tactical communications systems available.

“Congressman Bartlett has a long history as an advocate for the men and women in uniform, and the small businesses that support them,” said Gil Limonchik, CEO, Silynx Communications. “We were honored to host the Congressman for a tour of our R&D facilities, and a discussion on what industry and policymakers can do to best equip and protect American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. It is Silynx’s mission to do so to the best of our ability, and we are grateful for the Congressman’s support in our efforts.”

Congressman Bartlett said, “Silynx has developed a critical combat capability to provide our Special Operations Forces with a state of the art modification of their radios so that they will maintain audio operational awareness as well as protection for their hearing from potential damage. I am hopeful that this protection can be rapidly extended to all of our military during deployment as well as training. This would be important even if hearing loss was not among the most common injury our troops have been experiencing. Standard issue ear protection is not sufficient.”

Silynx’s combat-proven C4OPS and Micro C4OPS have been widely used in the past 3 years and adopted by US Special Operations Forces (US SOF), NATO Special Forces, FBI SWAT, and the US Army Rapid Fielding Initiative.

www.silynxcom.com

HASC Members Speak in Support of Service Member Protection at WPRC Event

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Earlier this week, the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition sponsored an event in Washington, DC featuring a panel of lawmakers. If you’re a reader of SSD, the subject was near and dear to your heart; the future of Soldier Systems from a Congressional standpoint. It’s important to note, that while a service might have a dire need for a certain capability, such as improved ballistic protection, or a new weapon system or camouflage, there is only so much flexibility in their service budgets. It requires Congress to appropriate the money to increase these capabilities. Fortunately, there are some in Congress who are very much in tune with the needs of our service members.

The panel was moderated by the Lexington Institute and all three panelists are members of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressmen Bill Owens (D-NY), Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Larry Kissel (D-NC). All three bring a slightly different perspective but have the same goal, ensuring American Warriors are the best equipped in the world.

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Congressman Bill Owens represents New York’s 23rd District. He is a US Air Force Vet who was stationed at Plattsburgh AFB and later returned to live in the area. Right off the bat, Representative Owens explained his position. “It’s important that we don’t let the improvements that we’ve made over the past ten years go away as we curtail operations in Afghanistan'” and went on to add, “We need to begin to work in a bipartisan way to solve complex problems,” signifying his desire to reach across the aisle to those ends.

Interestingly, he mentioned several companies in his district that have moved from Canada to the US in order to be in compliance with Berry. Based on this experience, he stated that he would like to see more participation by Canadian companies in protecting American troops.

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Congressman Chris Gibson is a retired US Army Infantry Colonel having served for 24 years including three combat deployments. On September 10th, 2001 he was at Fort Polk, serving as a Brigade XO in the 10th Mountain on a pre-deployment exercise to the Balkans. In Congress, he offers a boot-on-the-ground perspective few others can match. His comments reflect this view, “Looking back on September 10th (2001) to now, it’s amazing how far the Army has come. We are different military today. We can’t lose these capabilities.”

Additionally, he is very well informed about how we’ve achieved these increased Soldier Systems capabilities. Representative Gibson stated, “We need to find a place for things that were OCO in the budget.” He also has a vision for the future of Soldier protection, seeing nano technology as critical to lightening and improving the performance of our kit. While its been said many times before, Gibson’s final comment resonated with the gathering, “You’re not manning the equipment, you’re equipping the man.”

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Larry Kissel comes from the 8th Congressional district of NC. He brings 27 years in the textile business, so the health of the US sewing trade is very important to him. Fort Bragg also sits on the edge of his district and he finds it hard not to show concern for our military’s well being, commenting, “When you live where we do, Fort Bragg is the center of the universe.”

During his remarks, Representative Kissel also remarked, “We need to make sure that when our men and women go into harm’s way, that they have the best equipment.” Later, when discussing the Berry Amendment, he was very clear in his support stating, “Berry has worked for 60 years. The strongest thing we can have is a good economy and that means American jobs.” “It doesn’t make sense to have TSA or Border Patrol in something not made in America,” he explained was a top priority, when asked about bringing the Department of Homeland Security under Berry.

David Costello, Executive Director of the WPRC, summed up the event well, “The WPRC represents the best of the American manufacturing industry that builds the clothing and equipment that helps make our troops the most effective fighting force on the planet. We are honored to have the support of Senator Brown and Congressmen Owens, Gibson and Kissell as we seek to ensure the continued proper outfitting of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and operators.”

The event was very successful and all three Congressmen fielded questions from the audience. It was a pleasure meeting those so vocal about their support for our industry.

For more information on the WPRC visit warriorprotection.net.

WPRC to Host Congressional Panel

Monday, March 26th, 2012

On Wednesday, March 28th at 12:00 pm, a Congressional Panel comprised of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY), Congressman Larry Kissell (D-NC) and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) will discuss Soldier personal clothing and equipment needs, and the impact of a potential defense sequestration process on mission readiness.

The luncheon panel discussion will be take place in Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building and will be moderated by Lexington Institute CEO Merrick “Mac” Kerry. The event is hosted by the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC), an advocacy group for the domestic industry that supplies U.S. service members with personal clothing and tactical equipment. The event will be moderated by the Lexington Institute and media as well as congressional staffers are invited to attend.

WPRC Announces New Members

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Today, the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC), a non-profit organization of industry leaders that make and distribute organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE), announced that five additional companies have joined the group. They are: ArmorSource, LLC, Ceradyne, Inc., Gerber Gear, Glen Raven, Inc. and Survival Armor.

The WPRC is an advocate for the warfighter clothing and equipment industry whose primary mission is to provide a unified voice for sustained funding of the mission critical gear and equipment that allows warfighters to complete their missions safely and successfully. Each WPRC member company is creating domestic manufacturing jobs, maintaining a critical supply chain and providing American warfighters with the equipment they need to execute missions safely and effectively.

In a press release provided to SSD, WPRC’s Executive Director David Costello related, “The five new Coalition members demonstrate the industry’s commitment to ensuring our men and women in uniform has sustained access to the best mission-critical equipment available.” He went on to say, “The diversity in our new members represents a strong cross section of an industry vital to national security and American manufacturing. We’re thrilled to have ArmorSource, Ceradyne, Gerber, Glen Raven and Survival Armor on board with our mission and we look forward to having those organizations be a part of our increasingly successful advocacycampaign.”

The WPRC membership includes: ADS, Inc., ArmorSource, LLC,Bates Footwear, Benchmade Knife Company, Bluewater Defense, Brookwood Companies, Inc., Ceradyne, Inc., Darn Tough Vermont, DuPont, Duro Textiles, LLC, Eye Safety Systems, Inc., ForceProtector Gear, Gerber Gear, Glen Raven Inc., Insight Technology, Inc., International Textile Group, Inc., Leading Technology Composites, Inc., London Bridge Trading Company, Milliken & Company, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., Otis Technology, Inc., Outdoor Research, Pelican Products, Inc., Polartec, LLC, Silynx Communications, Inc., Smith Optics, Surefire, LLC, Survival Armor, TenCate Protective Fabrics, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Wilcox Industries Corp., Wild Things Tactical, and Wiley X, Inc.

For more information on the Warrior Protection & Readiness Coalition, please visit www.warriorprotection.net.

2012 National Defense Authorization Act Includes Soldier Protection Language

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

This legislation is significant because only PM-ICE existed before the war started. It shows how important protecting American warriors is for Congress. For the Army, PEO Soldier and the associated funding for the huge advancements we have seen in Soldier Systems came along with the war. Funding thus far for all services has been via supplementals or in some cases via regrogramming actions. The Army is in the midst of developing a baseline budget for the Soldier Systems commodity area so that it can find its place in the Future Years Defense Plan. It is imperative that the gains already made are not lost due to loss of focus.

The Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC) today applauded both passage of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the bill’s strong focus on warfighter clothing and equipment budgeting.

In the bill, Section 1094 requires that for the first time that the Military Departments provide an up-front, specific outline of their annual budget plans for the specialized products that protect warfighters from the enemy and the elements in theatre. Beginning in FY2013, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will now provide the President, in their budget request, an overview of spending plans for Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE).

With military budgets facing cuts in coming years, the WPRC believes this language will place a new level of emphasis on the need to provide America’s men and women in uniform with the best protective clothing and equipment.

As David Costello, Executive Director of the WPRC noted, “Over the past decade, the Department of Defense has made enormous progress in the development and fielding of protective clothing and equipment to the warfighter. This success is a direct result of domestic industry rising to the task of properly outfitting those who bravely serve our country. This new congressional requirement will give those companies, who manufacture in the US, much more predictability in terms of budget planning. Most importantly, it will help ensure that our men and women in uniform continue to receive the clothing and equipment that is essential to their mission success. This is a key step in making sure that these critical products and programs are sustained to meet future challenges.”

For two years, the WPRC has been an advocate for the clothing and equipment needs of service members and for the industry that supports them. A broad bi-partisan group of Representatives and Senators have supported the WPRC on this key issue. In particular, the WPRC is grateful for the leadership of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and House Armed Services Committee Member Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY).

“This legislation helps ensure America’s warfighters have the tools to stay safe, complete their mission, and secure the nation,” said Congressman Owens. “It is absolutely critical that we continue to offer complete support to the men and women engaged in Afghanistan, even as America responsibly winds down the war in Iraq. We have also taken steps in this legislation to help small businesses that do business with the Department of Defense better plan their operations by giving them a clearer sense of DoD’s future needs.”

The WPRC is an advocacy organization for the industry that manufactures and distributes clothing and equipment that saves lives, and that helps warfighters complete their missions effectively. The WPRC membership represents a cross section of a vital sector that helps maintain the strength of American manufacturing. The WPRC membership includes: ADS, Inc., Bates Footwear, Benchmade Knife Company, Bluewater Defense, Brookwood Companies, Inc., Darn Tough Vermont, DuPont, Duro Textiles, LLC, Eye Safety Systems, Inc., ForceProtector Gear, Honeywell, Insight Technology, Inc., International Textile Group, Inc., Leading Technology Composites, Inc., London Bridge Trading Company, Milliken & Company, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., Otis Technology, Inc., Outdoor Research, Pelican Products, Inc., Polartec, LLC, Silynx Communications, Inc., Smith Optics, Surefire, LLC, Tactical Holdings, TenCate Protective Fabrics, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Wilcox Industries Corp., Wild Things Tactical, and Wiley X, Inc.

For more information on the Warrior Protection & Readiness Coalition, please visit www.warriorprotection.net.

WPRC Announces New Members

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

The Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC) announced yesterday that ForceProtector Gear, Silynx Communications (Silynx) and Wilcox Industries (Wilcox) have joined the organization and will participate in its effort to promote the tactical clothing and equipment industry.

The three new Coalition members are unique organizations producing mission-critical equipment. ForceProtector Gear designs and manufactures new and innovative tactical nylon equipment for the military with a mission to replace legacy items with compelling new designs. Silynx Communications, Inc. is a world leader in software defined micro soldier systems with hearing protection/enhancement capability. Wilcox is an industry leader in the design and production of high quality tactical equipment for use by the Department of Defense and Federal Agencies.

In just under two years, the WPRC has grown from a concept to the leading voice in advocacy for the domestic industry that supplies American service members with the clothing and tactical equipment critical for mission success. The WPRC membership speaks with a single and increasingly strong voice on the issues that impact domestic manufacturing and the safety of American military personnel in harm’s way. The current WPRC membership includes: ADS, Inc., Bates Footwear, Benchmade Knife Company, Bluewater Defense, Brookwood Companies Inc., Darn Tough Vermont, DuPont, Duro Textiles, Eye Safety Systems, Honeywell, Insight Technology, International Textile Group, Leading Technology Composites Inc., London Bridge Trading Company, Milliken & Company, New Balance Athletic Shoe Company, Otis Technology Inc., Outdoor Research, Pelican, Polartec, Smith Optics, Surefire, LLC, Tactical Holdings, TenCate, Wiley X, W. L. Gore and WT Tactical.

For more information on the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition please visit www.warriorprotection.net.

WPRC Elects Officers

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The Warrior Protection and Readiness Association, which will continue to be known as the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition, held the inaugural meeting of its newly appointed Board of Directors early this morning. The Directors enthusiastically agreed to pursue further expansion of the WPRC as a not-for-profit organization.

During the meeting, the WPRC Board of Directors elected Luke Hiller, CEO of ADS, Inc. as its Chairman; Brent Finemore, Vice President of Government Sales at Pelican Products as its Treasurer; and David Bohannon, President of London Bridge Trading Company as its Secretary. The officers are joined on the Board of Directors by Matthew LeBretton, Esq., Director of Public Affairs at New Balance Athletic Shoe Company and Brent Finemore, Vice President of Government Sales for Pelican Products. The WPRC also designated David L. Costello as the WPRC’s first Executive Director. Costello and his team at ADS Ventures in Boston will work at the direction of the Board to develop public policy and outreach strategies that advance the WPRC’s mission on behalf of industry and the warfighter.

In little more than one year, the WPRC has grown from a concept to a leading advocate for the tactical clothing and equipment industry. The WPRC membership speaks with a single and increasingly strong voice on issues that impact domestic manufacturing and the safety of American military personnel in harm’s way. The current WPRC membership includes: ADS, Inc., Bates Footwear, Benchmade Knife Company, Bluewater Defense, Brookwood Companies Inc., Darn Tough Vermont, DuPont, Duro Textiles, Eye Safety Systems, Honeywell, Insight Technology, International Textile Group, Leading Technology Composites Inc., London Bridge Trading Company, Milliken & Company, New Balance Athletic Shoe Company, Otis Technology Inc., Outdoor Research, Pelican, Polartec, Smith Optics, Surefire, LLC, Tactical Holdings, TenCate, Wilcox Industries, Wiley X, W. L. Gore and WT Tactical.

For more information on the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition please visit www.warriorprotection.net.

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WPRC Advocates for Operational Readiness and Warfighter Safety Initiative

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC) membership visited Capitol Hill on April 6th and representatives met with over 100 members of Congress. While on Capitol Hill, WPRC members provided an overview of their business footprint and explained why it is critical that Congress and the DoD prioritize funding for the equipment and apparel that keep American Warfighters safe and combat effective. In addition to discussing policy and speaking from their own experiences, the WPRC membership was proud to share with Congress the results of new independent research findings by the Lexington Institute on the need for sustained funding and sustainable fielding of Warfighter protective equipment. The Lexington Institute’s “Dressing for Success: Equipping the 21st Century Warfighter Quickly and Efficiently” by Dr Daniel Goure can be found here:

www.lexingtoninstitute.org

Overall, this is a good document and provides a great history of funding challenges as well as the Rapid Equipping Force and Rapid Fielding Initiative. The Lexington Institute report urges the institutionalization of both the REF and RFI. In 2005 the REF became a permanent organization. With RFI, some may argue that this has already happened as we enter year 10 of this war.

What the document does not discuss is that RFI was initiated by GEN Schoomaker while he was Chief of Staff of the Army and was based on his experience in SOF. In fact, the program was led by COL Dave Anderson who had served in SOF as well and the initial issue was very much based on equipment already issued to SOF units such as cold weather gear. RFI is the best thing to every happen to the Soldier, at least in regard to his personal equipment. The intent of the program is to constantly upgrade the individual items as newer capabilities are introduced. It is absolutely essential that RFI remain a part of the Army.

The REF on the other hand is concerned with the entire gamut of warfighting capability rather than just Soldier Systems items. A lot of goodness has come from the program as well as a few flops but this is to be expected due to the nature of the beast. The “R” in REF is for Rapid and when you do things quickly sometimes things get overlooked. This however, is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The REF’s biggest weakness is that after nine years, there is still no way for industry to identify solutions for teh myriad challenges posed to the REF. Instead, the REF relies on a team of contractors to identify candidate technologies and this approach suffers from, “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The perfect answer to a problem might exist with company X but if the contractors at the REF don’t know about company X the solution will never see the light of day. This needs to be fixed and could be with increased BAAs as well as APBIs (yes, multiple) as well as an industry requirements portal that identifies requirements. Currently, vendors can submit technologies through the REF portal but good ideas are not solutions without a problem that needs fixing.

What is very important to understand is that Afghanistan in particular is a Soldier-centric environment, much more so than any where the US military has operated since Viet Nam. The military that I cut my teeth on in the 1980s faced a peer competitor and the anticipated operational environment was system-centric with concerns over Nuclear Biological and Chemical threats on the Northern German plain. Consequently, Soldier Systems development was concerned more with development of NBC gear than boots, armor, and uniforms. For example, the Battle Dress Overgarment or MOPP Suit had pockets more suited for use in a combat environment than the so-called Battle Dress Uniform which, was truthfully a caricature of a combat uniform intended for wear in garrison. When the BDU made its combat debut in Grenada it was deemed too hot for tropical use. So naturally, the Global War on Terror caught the US military flat footed when it came to Soldier Systems items. The military’s concern was with recapitalizing the expensive fleet of armored vehicles and aircraft designed 20 to 30 years earlier. Naturally, a lot of Soldier gear needed updating. The military did a great job with a lot of kit (clothing systems, MOLLE), a so-so job on others (Armor) and got it completely wrong in a few instances (UCP). None of this would have been possible without the “all-in” approach industry has taken.

Is there an inherent goodness to consolidating and formalizing funding for the Soldier-as-a-System? Absolutely. But there is an inherent danger as well and Dr Goure’s study fails to identify this course of action. Right now, funding comes from disparate sources and often as supplemental funding. This means it does not directly compete with other budget line items within the various departments. Additionally, members of Congress can more easily support these measures as stand-alones because they can champion the Soldier. As part of a larger budget the Soldier gets lost in the weeds. Furthermore, as part of a larger whole, the Soldier now has to compete with other capabilities for their piece of the pie. When the Army desperately needs new combat vehicles it is easy to decide that what the Soldier has is “good enough”.

Then, there is the final danger to a large budget line item for the Soldier and that is that the “Primes” will notice the dollar amount and desire it. Take any of the large, independent companies left in the Soldier Systems industry and they are like fleas when compared to the size and political capital that any one of the “Primes” can bring to bear. The traditional Soldier Systems companies simply can’t compete with that. And, if the “Soldier-as-a-System” were awarded to any one of these “Primes” expect mediocrity to rule the day. Don’t agree? Take a look at any one of the programs currently run by one of these companies; vehicles, aircraft, satellites. You name it. All we see is cost overruns and schedule delays. Want new technology insertion, like maybe a new type boot? Sure thing once you let a new contract for the upgrade. In the Soldier Systems industry we have enjoyed almost ten years of continuous competitive development. This means increased capability and lower prices. No other commodity that DoD purchases benefits from an environment like that. Give the whole kit and caboodle to one company (or team) and that goes away. Why would competitors continue to develop new products if there is no hope of seeking a contract award? Americans innovate and we do it for capitalist reasons. Take away an incentive to turn a buck and you stifle innovation.

The Government does need to do a better job of working with industry to mitigate the feast and famine cycle that has plagued our industry. It can be difficult for companies to keep the lights on when there is delay after delay in releasing contracts. Due to globalization, the corporate desire for profit, and the desire on the part of the consumer to pay big box prices, the American textile base has all but disappeared. Except for a very narrow niche market, the domestic textile industry exists solely to support the Department of Defense’s Berry amendment requirements. Consequently, they are a national resource and should be looked upon by the Government as such. They must be supported and perpetuated. Some might call this a jobs program but how is employing Americans to build something we need a “jobs program”?

The Lexington report highlights some great issues and the work of the WPRC on behalf of industry should be applauded. I agree with the recommendations and conclusions of the report but caution against creating an unwieldy process that stifles innovation and competition in the industrial base. Additionally, I harbor a great deal of concern over turning the Soldier into just another program.

But don’t take my concerns to mean that I disagree with the WPRC. I am convinced that the WPRC is committed to providing our service members with the best equipment available. However, there are problems in both industry as well as how the military deals with industry that must be addressed. Keep the good and get rid of the bad. The American Warfighter has never been so well equipped. We’re on a roll. Let’s keep it going.

www.warriorprotection.net