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The Science Behind the Soldier: ‘Grunt’ by Mary Roach

Hot on the heels of our last article about Natick Labs came this online article from ‘The National Geographic’ about a new book by renowned author Mary Roach:


Mary Roach, a self-confessed “goober with a flashlight,” has created a niche for books with one-word titles—Gulp (on the digestive system); Bonk (on the science of sex)—that take a funny, and informed, look at the scientific secrets of everyday things. In her latest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, she goes behind the scenes of modern warfare to celebrate the unsung heroes of military science, who do everything from design high-tech clothing for the battlefield to perform penis transplants—all in the name of keeping soldiers “alive and comfortable.”

Read the full interview here:



The Science Behind the Soldier: Natick Labs

Located in Natick, Massachusetts, and officially known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the installation is often referred to by its common nickname of ‘Natick Labs’.

Whatever you call it though, there’s no doubt that these folks do some very important work – even if you don’t hear of it very often.  One part of that important work is in developing new gear to meet the ever evolving challenges of modern-day combat and stabilization missions.  Long gone are the days of lowest-common-denominator and one-size-fits-all – the modern American soldier is equipped with some of the most specially-designed and high-performance gear on the battlefield.


In the photo above, a squad from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) visit the equipment lab to discuss load carriage with NSRDEC’s individual equipment designer, Rich Landry.  Their visit was part of the Science & Technology Project Integration Pilot, a collaborative program that pairs Natick scientists and engineers with paratroopers from the 82nd’s 504th PIR.  Within an hour of the meeting, Landry had already begun developing the prototype for a performance enhancing rucksack based on their feedback.

Landry is also no stranger to carrying heavy loads in the field – he was once a Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division himself.  In the video below, he talks about that experience and how it has helped him in his work at Natick.



US Army begins fielding M3 Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle

US Army light infantry units are to be equipped with the Saab 84 mm Carl Gustaf M3 Multi-role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) as a standard issue tactical support weapon by late 2016.

The M3 is now officially an organic weapon system within each army combat platoon, and will initially be fielded within selected Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), which will now train, maintain, and sustain the M3 as part of the IBCT organisational structure. Going forward, all brigade combat teams will receive 27 Carl Gustaf launchers, about one per platoon.

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Exercise “Swift Response” 2016 – fact sheet


Brits’ new Ration Fuel to spark interest at EUROSATORY

According to the latest news from BCB International, a unique waterproof fuel used by British soldiers to heat their rations (and more importantly, their tea!) is set to spark things up at EUROSATORY next week.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) have awarded a four year contract to the UK-based survival equipment specialists, BCB International Ltd (Hall 6 G798), for the supply of a new operational ration cooker and fuel. BCB’s ‘FireDragon’ fuel is an innovative solid biofuel made from ethanol.  According to BCB’s Managing Director, Andrew Howell:  “Wherever they operate, whether in driving rain, the freezing arctic or searing heat, this fuel will enable soldiers to safely and effectively heat their rations whenever required.”


The contract marks a move away from hexamine fuel which the British Army supplied to troops for over forty years for cooking in the field. Hexamine was a potentially dangerous and outdated substance.

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