NATICK, Mass. (Jan. 30, 2014) -- The commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command visited Natick Soldier Systems Center to learn more about what is done on the installation to support America's warfighters.

Gen. Dennis L. Via received briefings and witnessed demonstrations about Soldier systems engineering architecture, female body armor, the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, the Doriot Climatic Chambers, the Physical Demands Study, Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems, aerial delivery, Soldier power-wireless transmission, multi-functional fibers, vision protection and nutrition.

"Everything that we do to sustain the Soldier, and improve the performance of that Soldier, and protect that Soldier, and provide for quality of life is being done here," Via said. "So it's been a phenomenal visit."

Via pointed to the Soldiers who come to Natick fresh out of Advanced Individual Training to spend 90 days as human research volunteers in experiments, before moving on to the initial assignments of their Army careers.

"I think that was a highlight," Via said. "I'm extremely impressed with the Soldiers."

Among the many technologies that stood out, Via mentioned "advancements in power and being able to lighten the load of what our Soldiers are carrying today -- some of the wireless capabilities that are being built. I think that was just absolutely phenomenal."

He added that he enjoyed speaking with scientists and engineers about "how they're researching those leap-ahead technologies for our Army -- very important work, across the board."

Via called Natick's work critical to AMC's mission of supporting the warfighter, today and tomorrow.

"We have to invest in research and development and science and technology to continue to make sure that our Army and our forces have that technological advantage that we helped build over the past decade-plus of war," Via said. "We want to continue to maintain that ahead of any potential adversary in the future."

No stranger to Massachusetts, Via earned his master's degree from Boston University. He said that he appreciates the importance of Natick Soldier Systems Center's proximity to some of the nation's finest colleges, universities and technology companies.

"I think it's critically important to continue to attract bright men and women, both those who want to join and serve our Army, (and) also those who want to join and support our Army as Department of the Army civilians," Via said. "This is an area very rich in being able to provide personnel who have those types of degrees (and) experience that can help us achieve our goals."

Via said he looked forward to seeing what Natick would produce in the future.

"It's a critical capability for our Army," said Via, "and it's a critical capability for our nation."