By Lt. Col. Carl S. EyDecember 8, 2006
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 8, 2006) - Forward deployed forces are now rapidly receiving protective, flame-resistant combat uniforms to protect against an ever-changing enemy.
In continuous use since Army aviators and tankers were first outfitted over 25 years ago, NOMEX uniforms and uniform items are now being provided to a wide range of other Soldiers who may be exposed to fire and flame.
Commanders in the field identified the need and sent the Army an operational needs requirement in September 2006. Within 22 days, a Department of Defense team succeeded in delivering more than 70,000 NOMEX uniforms to Soldiers serving in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
"When the Coalition Forces Land Component Command sent the requirement for NOMEX uniforms, the Army's Logistics office worked with the Defense Logistics Agency, Program Executive Office - Soldier and Transportation Command to quickly ensure Soldiers were properly outfitted," said Col. Rebecca Samson, Chief Troop Support Division for the Army's G-4.
NOMEX has proved effective in saving lives. After Spc. Christon Stone's vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb on Sept. 17, the Oklahoma National Guardsman was trapped in her burning vehicle. Fortunately, the Soldier was wearing her NOMEX uniform.
The material significantly reduces the risk of a Soldier receiving second and third degree burns when exposed to a flash fire such as burning fuel.
According to Flightfax, the Army Combat Readiness Center magazine, the majority of all combat-related burns are caused by explosions from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne IEDs, rocket-propelled grenades, or mines during operations on or near a military vehicle.
"Soldiers deserve the best products modern industry has to offer," said Mr. Thomas J. Edwards, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Logistics, "and the Army has committed over $70 million dollars to make sure our vehicle crews have NOMEX uniforms and equipment when they go to combat. This initiative is incredibly important because properly outfitting our Soldiers saves lives."
Using improved logistics automation, the newly established Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) Central Management Office can now view across the Army's inventory to cross-level and ensure Soldiers who need certain equipment can get it rapidly.
"The military is issuing the NOMEX clothing and equipment to Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Mark Drake, Acting Director of Supply Directorate for the Army's G-4. "It is one team and one fight for our military forces."
NOMEX is a registered trade name of a fiber produced by The DuPont Company. The material is used as a fabric to manufacture clothing that resists heat and flame. Race car drivers, firefighters and pilots have used NOMEX extensively to protect themselves against burn-injuries.