By Bob Reinert/USAG-Natick Public AffairsNovember 28, 2011
Colonel (P) Walter Piatt will do anything in his power to help infantry squads win on the battlefield. And when he visited the Natick Soldier Systems Center on Nov. 21, he found plenty of like-minded people.
Piatt, who took over last summer as deputy commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, came to Natick with Col. Dan Barnett, TRADOC Capability Manager-Soldier, to discover what Natick had to offer. He obviously went away impressed by what he saw.
"This is one powerful organization," said Piatt at day's end.
Piatt and Barnett received overviews of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine from Dianne St. Jean, NSRDEC associate director, and Col. Gaston Bathalon, USARIEM commander, respectively, followed by other briefs and a tour of NSSC's unique facilities.
Throughout the day, the focus stayed on the squad, which Piatt wants to put into a position to "overmatch" the opposition. In that quest, he will use whatever tools are available.
"I'm very interested in connecting more people in this endeavor, moving forward," Piatt said. "I think we need to really be candid in our comments and our assessments."
Piatt said he saw success as a blend between combat experience and science and technology. Natick figures to play a significant role.
"I think it's a problem that we have to solve together," Piatt said. "It has to be integrated. We just have to connect the dots. We have so many people doing the right things."
"The fact that we have folks that have fought and done this for so long has to count for something. I think we've got to figure out how that gets into this. We've been there and had this experience."
St. Jean agreed with Piatt's view.
"There should be an ability to take that qualitative and the quantitative, because that gives you the bigger picture," St. Jean said. "We understand that for Soldiers and small units, the answer is not always the same, because it's dependant on the scenario, the mission, etc. It would change."
Piatt conceded that collaboration would happen against a backdrop of budgetary limitations.
"We have to streamline and create some efficiencies," Piatt said. "We've got to be creative. We have more capabilities than we think we have. I think we can train more with the tools that we have now in less time if we do it right."