Army War College, MIT Fellows visit Natick
Paula Collins, an MIT Lincoln Laboratory technical staff leader, tries on female body armor with an assist from Deana Archambault, left, and Annette LaFleur of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

NATICK, Mass. -- Army War College Fellows at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Harvard University learned about the important work done at the Natick Soldier Systems Center during a Jan. 18 visit to the installation.

The visitors began their day by receiving a welcome and overview at the Grant Conference Center.

"I think we've got an excellent day for you," said Col. Kevin Hillman, military deputy of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. "A lot of things that we do here are of interest to every Soldier out there and every service member. It's a very rewarding place to … make a difference."

Craig Rettie, director of the Warfighter Directorate at NSRDEC, told the attendees that Natick concerns itself with "Soldier and small-unit problems. The cognitive piece of it is also very important. I'm talking about how the human brain processes information."

Rettie introduced Mathew Correa of NSRDEC, who spoke about the large amount of information gathered on today's battlefield.

"That information then needs to be … (used) to make decisions based on your environment … to actually do something with it -- a warfighter action," Correa said. "Right now, it's just this rich data … that comes in, and you don't know what to do (with), even when you're in a training environment, never mind when you're getting shot at.

"The Soldier is the best sensor that we have on the battlefield."

Annette LaFleur and Deana Archambault followed with a presentation on female body armor, which Archambault noted for its comfortable fit.

"It feels like a giant hug," Archambault said.

After the welcome and overview, the visitors toured some of NSSC's unique facilities, such as the Doriot Climatic Chamber and the Ouellette Thermal Test Facility.

"It is crucial for senior leaders to see the latest emerging equipment and rations so they understand where the force is headed," said Lt. Col. George Mason, who is at Harvard. "Of particular value was the demonstration of the new female-specific body armor as well as the uniform design and prototyping."

"Great work by the team at Natick Soldier Systems Center," said Lt. Col. Chris Young, a Training With Industry fellow at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. "They really seem to be making the Soldiers' health, safety and security a top priority in everything they do.

"It is great to see that the Natick Soldier Systems Center takes feedback from Soldiers to make Soldier gear more comfortable and safer, protecting our Soldiers better. The new female body armor is a great example of this."

Young said he was impressed with what he saw at NSRDEC's Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate.

"The Combat Feeding program has made great improvements in the last 20 years," said Young, adding that it was "amazing to see all the hard work that goes into making food better tasting, healthier, and more practically packaged."

Another highlight for Young was the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at NSSC.

"Great to see the Army is doing serious research into preventing Soldier injuries from muscular/skeletal problems to the diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury," Young said. "Super work being done to make sure field rations are healthy yet still taste good, providing the Soldier with the right food to sustain the fight."

Page last updated Thu January 24th, 2013 at 07:58