NATICK, Mass. -- Whether one is talking about the military, industry, academia or the environment, a thriving ecosystem relies on the interconnectivity and the continuing evolution of all its parts.

Organizations must evolve, adapt, foresee and innovate to excel, as well as work seamlessly with partners.

This idea was a central theme of the visit of Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon to the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. Cardon serves as director, Office of Business Transformation, Office of the Under Secretary of the Army.

The NSRDEC-hosted visit focused on NSRDEC's partnership with Program Executive Office Soldier, as well as its collaborations with industry, academia, other government entities and perhaps most importantly, NSRDEC's partnerships with units -- including the 82nd Airborne and the 10th Mountain Division.

NSRDEC partners with units to garner insights into Soldier needs with input provided directly from the Soldier. The overarching goals of NSRDEC's efforts are to improve capabilities of the Warfighter and optimize performance.

"The relationship that NSRDEC has developed and nurtured over the last year and a half with the 82nd Airborne has provided our scientists and engineers with incredible insight into real-world Soldier perceived issues," said Douglas Tamilio, director of NSRDEC.

NSRDEC subject matter experts briefed Cardon on ballistic protection, operational and performance rations, signature management, force projection platforms, as well as resupply challenges and emerging aerial delivery capabilities -- to name a few areas of development.

"When we are provided with an opportunity to tell our story to a senior leader, we love to discuss the impacts we are having on the current and future battlefield with regards to performance nutrition, tailored rations and modular field feeding equipment," said Jeremy Whitsitt, deputy director of NSRDEC's Combat Feeding Directorate. "As a Soldier, Lieutenant General Cardon understands the inherent connection between food and performance and informing him of some exciting breakthroughs in this area was invaluable."

"I thoroughly enjoyed providing Lieutenant General Cardon a quick overview of where we envision the future of the Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System, or JPADS, and Aerial Delivery will be as part of Assured Resupply for Small Units and Squads, especially when they need supplies in dense urban complex terrains," said Richard Benney, director of NSRDEC's Aerial Delivery Directorate. "Lieutenant General Cardon also provided some suggested alternative uses of JPADS capabilities, some of which we are pursuing and some of which we will pursue."

Cardon viewed with interest many of NSRDEC's technologies.

"I'll take two," said Cardon while looking at the jungle tropical uniform.

Cardon acknowledged the "tremendous power of this organization."

"This organization touches everyone in the Army," said Cardon. "I'm really encouraged by what you do."

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The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.