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Posts Tagged ‘FREE’

Warrior Expo East to Feature Thermo-Man Burn Demonstration

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Join ADS, Inc and DuPont for a Thermo-Man burn demonstration. ADS will illustrate the effectiveness of the Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) Clothing System in a live burn demo on July 12, 1430-1515. If you are going to be at Warrior Expo East, this is something you do NOT want to miss.


ADS Introduces Dismounted FREEADS

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

SSD has written about the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble in the past and our only criticism is the basis of issue. Designed specifically for Aircrew and Mounted Crewmen, FREE is a skin-out FR environmental clothing system that protects down to -40 deg F. Unfortunately, FREE is not issued to dismounted troops. However, they do get the Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System Gen III which is a great clothing system but it’s not FR. The problem is that the dismounts ride around in aircraft, trucks and armored vehicles getting from point A to B and are just as much at risk of IED and other flame threats as the troops who are issued FREE. And that’s not to mention the risks of dismounted patrolling and attacks on FOBs.

If you are already using ECWCS Gen III then Dismounted FREE will be very familiar to you. It has been optimized for ground operations and consists of Light-Weight Undershirt and Drawers, Mid-Weight Shirt and Drawers, High-Loft Fleece Jacket, Soft Shell Jacket and Trousers, Extreme Cold/Wet Weather Jacket and Trousers. And, like Gen III it is available in Top and Bottom kits in addition to two optional items not included in either kit; the Parka and Overtrouser. As you can see, it is a very streamlined kit and sticks with FR versions of the most commonly used garments.

Additionally, unlike ECWCS Gen III, Dismounted FREE is designed to integrate the FR ACU, Army Combat Shirt, or other FR level 9 garments into the system. Considering that the Soldier is always going to be wearing a combat uniform, it only makes sense that the environmental layers integrate with it.

Dismounted FREE From ADS Inc

Dismounted FREE is available in UCP or OCP camo patterns in sizes XS – XXL in short, regular, and long lengths. All of the clothing in the kit is Berry compliant and FR. Dismounted FREE drastically increases the protection of the ground Soldier and offers a cost effective alternative to issuing FREE to everyone. It’s important to note that this is not an Army program and that ADS developed Dismounted FREE internally as a solution for the Soldier protection issues we identified above. We are impressed with what we see and hope that the military takes a serious look at this option which leverages proven technologies and is available now as a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf solution.


Ever Wonder Where Those Socks Came From?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Despite the US Army’s recent interest in wool, it never went completely away. All four services recognize the advantages of wool and issue Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ Merino wool socks to their personnel. In particular, the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) relies on a Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ sock to provide no melt-no drip protection in a wide variety of conditions.

These days almost everyone is issued socks prior to deployment and many of you receive Merino wool socks for that purpose. But, did you ever wonder where they come from? I did, so last week I visited Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢’s factory in rural Vermont but I didn’t expect what I found.

The first thing I saw after meeting my host, Shannon McKenna, Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢’s Director of Government Sales, was a mural. On it was a simple statement that gets to the heart of their philosophy.

Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality

Naturally, any company located in Vermont is going to have at least a little bit of Yankee, but I must admit I was still surprised at the village atmosphere. I was introduced to Ric Cabot, CEO of Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ and the man behind the outsourcing sign. The more I talked to him, the more I realized how similar our outlook on life and business is.

It turns out the mill was started in 1978 and Ric Cabot is a 3rd generation sock maker. One of the first things he told me as we walked along the production line, wooden ruler hanging out of the back pocket of his work pants was, “You’re not just buying socks, you’re buying us.” To him, it’s easy. People are the most important part of process. It’s simply a matter of explaining the goal and then working together.

Ric Cabot doesn’t think that outsourcing is just about shipping jobs overseas. When I mentioned the slogan at the entrance he said, “If you’re serious about something you’ll do it yourself.” He wants to do as much as possible in house. For instance, they build all of the socks with their name on them. They don’t send anything out to sub-contractors.

Everyone should want to be Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢.
-Ric Cabot

When I commented to Ric Cabot about how impressed I was with how smoothly it all ran, he turned to me and commented, “It all goes back to the ruler.” I could tell by his conviction that he wasn’t just talking about that ruler he carries around the factory in his back pocket for spot checks of socks on the line. He also meant the personal ruler he uses to measure success. It’s not just about “quality” as an industrial term. Ric Cabot is interested in sustainability of community. He knows each of his 147 employees; some are 3rd generation employees just like him. He shared with me that his factory is more than just those 147 employees. All told, he says there are over 500 dependents plus, by extension, his suppliers around the country.

Don’t think it’s always been roses. They’ve had tough times. Ric went on to tell me, “Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ is the mill, it’s not a name we put on a pair of socks. It’s my family. In an rural American environment, we’ve pulled ourselves from near bankruptcy to become the producers of the highest quality performance sock brand.”

Anybody can build a Berry compliant sock, but it’s still not Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢
-Shannon McKenna

Shannon knows many of the men and women who wear their socks. You’ll see her at trade shows, greeting everyone with a smile. She told me, “We perform best, when you don’t know we’re there.” But it’s more than a smile and a kind word. Their commitment to excellence shows through in so many ways.

Many of the workers at Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ are veterans. In fact, the head of R&D served in 10th SFG(A) in the 1960s and we had a fun conversation reminiscing about the old Chippewa mountain boots and thick wool socks issued up into the 1990s. More still, have family who are serving overseas so there is a passion to ensure that they build the best product possible.

Additionally, Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ listens to its customers. The Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ Tactical footwear line is pretty broad and includes Tactical Boot, Tactical Dress and Tactical PT socks. With 23 styles ranging from True-Seamlessâ„¢ mesh, no-show PT socks to over-the-calf Extreme Cold Weather Mountaineering Boot socks, they’ve got one of the largest selection of Berry Compliant styles available in industry, covering all the bases. In fact, every style has been issued to one organization or another.

Take the FREE sock for instance. To satisfy the US Army’s requirement for a head-to-toe FR environmental clothing system system integrator ADS turned to Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢. They selected the “Merino Wool Boot Sock Cushion” due to its inherent no-melt no-drip, anti-microbial, and warm even when wet properties.

Here you can see a freshly knit FREE sock on the right and a fully finished version on the left. Remember that ruler? Quality assurance checks are made at each step in the process with gauges placed at various stations to verify measurements. But that trusty ruler still randomly comes out to make spot checks.

After the sock is knit, unless the sock is seamless, the toe seam is added and excess material trimmed. Then it heads over for a wash and dry which sets the size you see above. Commercial varieties are also dyed in this step. Then it’s off to packaging which includes the addition of any labels. A quick note on seamless sock technology. Yes, it’s cool and Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ can do it. But they don’t include it on every style. It’s mainly because it isn’t necessary. For socks with a low nap, it makes a big difference, but for the thick terry nap socks like the mountaineering variety it superfluous. Sure, they could replace ALL of their machines to produce seamless socks and lay off the workers who finish the socks, but why do it? How does that best serve the community?

It’s important to note that everyone wears socks and Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ recognizes this. They offer far more socks to the commercial market than they do for GIs. Interestingly, they don’t sell direct. There’s a reason for this. They don’t want to compete with their retailers.

I came away from my visit realizing that for this crew, making socks is a passion. There’s an investment of more than just money and materials. It’s an investment in community. To me, it’s an investment in America.


ADS Publishes a Great FREE Primer ADS Tactical

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

ADS has just published a new document on their website. Not only is it free, but it’s about FREE, the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble. It is a Fire Resistant, layered clothing system, designed to protect the Soldier from the effects of flame threats while serving in adverse weather conditions down to -40 deg F.

In my opinion, FREE is a well built, well designed system. It’s only major issue, is the basis of issue. While the Army recently expanded the recipients of the system, it is still restricted to Soldiers actually assigned to operate aircraft or vehicle. This means, those who ride as passengers are not afforded the same level of protection as those operating the platform. During long transits to insertion points, whether via vehicle or aircraft, passengers are often exposed to the elements. Standard warmies including the issue ECWCS Gen III, are not FR (with the exception of the most recent Level 5 softshells). This oversight poses a danger to those passengers. I encourage the Army to expand the use of FR cold and inclement clothing systems to ALL Soldiers who operate outside the wire. They already receive FR ACUs, Army Combat Shirts and now Pants as well, so why not cold weather clothing?

But, enough of my editorializing. Head on over to the new and improved ADS website to see what FREE is all about. (I actually know that the article is pretty good, because I wrote it.)

FREE – Keeping You Warm In Spite of the Heat

Now Approved for Wear in AFCENT – Tactical Flight Duty Uniform

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Some of you may remember the on-again, off-again love affair the Air Force was having with DriFire’s PHENIX II Flight Suit. But it looks like that has all been cleared up. According to the latest version of USAFCENTI 36-2903 dated 6 June, 2011, only three different two-piece flight suits are authorized for wear in the AFCENT AOR. Two of them are DriFire suits.

3.7.2. Procurement: Through rigorous AFE testing and flight testing, three sets of TFDUs have been approved for wear. The TFDU will be purchased with unit funds. Manufacturers who have met ACC requirements and styles authorized are:

Company: DriFire
1) Phoenix (sic) II (S)
2) Phoenix (sic) II (W)

Company: Eagle Industries
3) Tactical Aircrew Flight Suit Jacket
3) Tactical Aircrew Flight Suit Pants

The Instruction is very specific about wear and goes on to state:

TFDU will only be worn when performing flying operations, flight line duties, flight related duties (to include Alert Commitments/Responsibilities) and meals in association with flying duties. It will not be worn during travel to and from the Area of Responsibility. Mixing of jackets and pants from different manufacturers is not authorized.

Additionally, the London Bridge Trading Rigger’s Belt, part # LBT0612A, is authorized to be worn. This belt is part of the Army’s FREE program, an FR clothing system for Aviators and Mounted Crewmen.

Wear is restricted to H-60 and C-130 crews. We do know that the DriFire ensembles are currently available and can be had in Tan as well as OCP (MultiCam). As soon as we get a status on the Eagle uniform we will update this article.


Environmental Clothing Systems ADS Tactical

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

ADS Inc, lead system integrator for both ECWCS Gen III and FREE has just published a comprehensive look at both systems as well as SOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform. It is a great resource for anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of these systems or their histories. Check it out at www.adsinc.com.

FREE Components by Massif ADS

Friday, August 14th, 2009

The U.S. Army has selected five garments from Massif Mountain Gear Company’s flame-resistant product line for inclusion in the Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE). FREE is a multi-layering system of performance cold weather garments designed specifically for aircraft and combat vehicle crew.

Massif FREE Vest

The five Massif garments included in the FREE program are Massif’s next generation Elements™ softshell jacket, pants, and vest, and the all new Massif Elements Lite™ jacket and pants. These innovative softshell garments provide flame-resistant weather protection for a wide variety of cold and wet weather scenarios without sacrificing comfort or performance.

Massif FREE Jacket

Massif’s Executive Vice President Chris Wasgatt said, “The selection of garments for the FREE cold weather layering system is the culmination of a competitive two-year testing and evaluation process designed to outfit soldiers with the best flame-resistant garments available today. We are extremely proud that five of the core garments chosen for this program are Massif products and will serve our soldiers who operate in some of the world’s toughest environments”.

Massif garments and fabrics are made in the U.S.A. and are currently worn by ground troops, Special Forces, aviators and other military personnel based in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. In addition to supplying FREE garments, Massif is also the designer and fabric supplier of the Army’s flame-resistant Army Combat Shirt, new Winter Army Combat Shirt, and the still under development Army Combat Pant.

The Prime Contractor for FREE is ADS. The contract consists of a base year, with three additional option years. For more information on the FREE program, please visit: https://peosoldier.army.mil/factsheets/SEQ_CIE_FREE.pdf.