NATICK, MA – During a January 25 visit to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Soldier Center, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), General Andrew P. Poppas, gained a deeper understanding of how the center’s Soldier-focused mission and unique research and development capabilities play a pivotal role in supporting Army priorities, including Soldier readiness and lethality.
As FORSCOM commander, Poppas leads a vast organization comprised of 740,000 Soldiers and 13,000 civilians and is responsible for training and preparing a combat-ready, globally responsive, Total Force to ensure the readiness of combatant commands for any future conflicts.
Poppas, who assumed command of FORSCOM in July of 2022, often travels to Army organizations both inside and outside his command to get a firsthand look at specific aspects of the Soldier readiness mission, including the science and technology research and development communities, which led him to DEVCOM Soldier Center.
The visit gave Poppas and members of his staff a direct assessment of the Soldier Center facilities, programs, capabilities, and personnel dedicated to ensuring Soldiers are protected, optimized, and lethal by providing innovative science and technology solutions that enable future warfighters.
FORSCOM also routinely helps Soldier Center identify and select available operational units to support ongoing research, development, testing, and evaluation of Soldier-focused S&T programs, which in turn, facilitates Soldier touchpoint events that generate critical end-user feedback on Soldier technologies. Enhancing key human performance factors help fortify and increase Soldier readiness across the force.
After receiving a Soldier Center overview presentation, the FORSCOM team toured the Doriot Climatic Chambers, where they saw a display of new arctic and cold weather uniforms and equipment items being developed by Soldier Center scientists and engineers.
At Doriot, Poppas met with Soldier Center’s newest cohort of 30 Human Research Volunteer Program Soldiers who, after completing their Basic and Advanced Individual Training to become infantrymen, volunteered to serve a 120-day assignment as the center’s in-house human research subjects.
Addressing the Soldiers, Poppas emphasized the importance of supporting Soldier Center’s role in shaping future readiness levels.
Poppas said that Soldiers entering the Army now are going to be much “more lethal because of the equipment and technologies being developed right here that will have migrated into the force.”
“For you today, for every Soldier that’s out there fighting every day, and in the future, remember that what’s being developed here today is what you’re going to fight with in the future,” said Poppas.
FORSCOM Command Sergeant Major Todd Sims also stressed personal readiness with the young warfighters.
“I think the biggest thing is to remain focused while you are here,” said Sims. “Stay physically fit, stay mentally and spiritually ready because there’s no telling where you’re going once you come back to a FORSCOM unit and deploy.”
“So, make sure you are providing honest feedback on the equipment you’re testing to these fine professionals here because it will impact your future and make a difference for all Soldiers in the long run,” said Sims.
“If there’s a fight on the horizon, you’ve got to be ready,” added Poppas.
After Doriot, FORSCOM visited the Biomechanics Lab, where researchers apply advanced testing and data collection methods to measure specific physiological aspects of human performance by using wearable technologies.
At the Cognitive Performance Lab, Poppas saw how Soldier Center’s signature human performance research effort, Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness, or MASTR-E, utilizes wearable technologies and a state-of-the-art virtual reality dome to study cognitive performance factors that impact decision making during virtual combat scenarios.
At the Combat Feeding Division, FORSCOM leaders were shown the Close Combat Assault Ration, or CCAR, a daily ration prototype designed with calorically dense ration items, including Vacuum Microwave Dried products, to reduce the weight and volume of rations Soldiers must carry by approximately 40% compared with the current Meal Ready to Eat, or MRE.
Next FORSCOM visited the Design Pattern Prototype Studio, where a team of industry-trained fashion designers skillfully create a variety of military utility and dress uniforms, chemical biological protective suits, and several uniform and equipment items designed specifically for female Soldiers, including the prototype of the Army Tactical Brassiere.
The visit also included a demonstration of the in-house helmet press machine at the Low Velocity Impact Lab, and the Composite Armor Processing Lab, which together develop and evaluate novel materials for prototype helmets, inserts and padding. At the Engineering Innovation Center, Poppas witnessed examples of rapid prototyping capabilities using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, technologies.
The last stop on the agenda was the Load Carriage Lab, where engineers and equipment specialists showcased the process of constructing and integrating tactical equipment, including ruck sacks, tactical assault panels, ammunition pouches, first aid kits, pistol holsters, and other customized individual Soldier equipment prototypes.
“It was great to have Gen. Poppas, Command Sgt. Maj. Sims, and the FORSCOM staff here for a substantive look at our work,” said DEVCOM Soldier Center’s Director, Doug Tamilio. “FORSCOM understands we are a valued partner on the S&T side with the shared goal of increasing readiness and lethality for future Soldiers.”
About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers are also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.