By NSRDEC Public AffairsDecember 20, 2007
NATICK, Mass. - Finding a way for Soldiers to accomplish their missions more easily is what lies behind the design of many products created by the Individual Equipment Lab at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here.
"Part of our job is to spend time with Soldiers in the field and look at what they are doing, and see if there is a way we can improve how Soldiers carry their equipment," said Richard Landry, equipment designer. When service members tour the SSC, their ideas and suggestions for individual equipment are considered to determine if they are practical.
Currently, the lab is working on a tactical sling bag, a project created by the SSC load-bearing team for the Product Manager Clothing and Individual Equipment group under the Program Executive Office Soldier.
"Soldiers use the MOLLE [modular lightweight load-carrying equipment] assault pack, which is like a daypack, and they love it," Landry said. "But one of the problems is that they can't sit in a vehicle while wearing it." It is also difficult for the Soldier to access equipment inside the packs when it is on their back, he continued. And, during the time they have to stop to put on or take off their packs, they are left in a vulnerable position.
Landry said the sling bag could be slung over a Soldier's back, out of the way. The bag could be rotated to the front if the Soldier needed to access equipment or get into a vehicle.
"We started by looking at civilian carrier bags," he said. "We needed to find one that could be used not only inside a vehicle where they could reach items easily, but something that could be
effective throughout their mission."
The team from the Individual Equipment Lab looked at commercial bags, but couldn't find one that met the necessary requirements. The current prototype created by the lab has about 700 cubic inches of space and is slung over one shoulder. It has MOLLE webbing on the front so the user can add various pouches from the MOLLE system. It also has a secondary security strap to ensure it stays in place with a pull-tab for quick separation when needed.
He thinks the sling bag would be a valuable tool for medics. "This would essentially give medics a hands-free capability while ensuring their supplies are easily available," Landry said. "Additionally, if the medic came under fire while treating a casualty, they wouldn't have to worry about leaving supplies behind. They could always be attached to his body.
Although the sling bag has been roughly sized around the combat lifesaver kit, Landry and other service members already see plenty of additional uses. "This bag could be helpful for anyone who will be carrying small electronics," he said. "...even laptops." The Chaplain at SSC was also recently looking for something for the components of the resupply kit. "He thought the sling bag was a good fit," Landry said.
From here, the idea will be to incorporate the sling bag into the MOLLE system as an accessory item. Landry concluded by saying, "The MOLLE system is constantly changing based on what we learn from Soldier feedback."