NATICK, Mass (Nov. 22, 2013) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno visited the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Natick Soldier Systems Center on Nov. 18 to tour its facilities and learn more about the research that USARIEM's Military Performance Division is conducting with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command as part of Soldier 2020.At the Center for Military Biomechanics Research, USARIEM researchers told Odierno of their work to develop gender- and age-neutral physical performance standards and predictive performance tests for several combat-related military occupational specialties."What they do here is an incredibly important mission to the Army, as they continue to work what I consider to be our center of gravity, which is helping our Soldiers do their job," Odierno said. "The keystone of our Army has always been our Soldiers, and that will never change. We're focused on how to help Soldiers become more capable and efficient, so the work done here is very important because it supports that."Recently, the Army has turned to the USARIEM to objectively determine the physical demands of these jobs in order to facilitate the incorporation of women into these new positions.Called the "Physical Demands Study," these studies will be used to determine the physical requirements that are necessary to perform all combat type jobs including infantry, armor, artillery and engineering.First Odierno met the team of USARIEM investigators which includes exercise physiologists, biomechanists, a physician assistant, an occupational therapist and psychologists, all of whom share their skills across disciplines to accomplish this massive research effort.He was then walked through the multi-phase project. The first stop with the Military Performance Division Team highlighted the initial phase in which researchers determined what the physical demands of the tasks are for each MOS.Next, Odierno was shown Soldiers performing load carriage to illustrate USARIEM's scientific methodology to record physiological data from Soldiers performing such tasks.Finally Odierno was walked through a demonstration of the final phase, which will be to test Soldiers performing the task simulations and predictive tests to determine the relationships between the two sets of tests."I wanted to come up here and have the opportunity to thank the incredible Department of the Army civilians, and our contractors and all that help to do the hard work that's done here in Natick," Odierno said. "They are a critical part of the joint force, because much of what they do here not only impacts the Army, but other services as well."