On 6 July 1917 Lawrence of Arabia captured the port town of Aqaba in perhaps one of the greatest coups of the First World War. He had left the Arab camp at Wejh on 9 May, embarking on an epic expedition across some of the worst desert terrain in Arabia. As they approached Aqaba their ranks swelled with friendly tribesmen, numbering over 1,000 men when they finally took the town.
In the summer of 1917, T. E. Lawrence and the Arab leaders recognized the importance of seizing the port of Aqaba in order to secure a port and base on the northern Red Sea coast that could in turn facilitate further campaigns into Palestine and Syria. Accompanied by a party of tribesmen and Auda abu Tayi, the hereditary war chief of the warlike Howeitat tribe, Lawrence led a small force on an epic two-month march through the desert. After a clash with a Turkish battalion at Abu al-Lissan, the Arab force took the surrender of some of the outlying garrisons and finally took Aqaba on 6 July 1917.
French and Gabonese paratroopers execute an airborne operation during exercise ‘Central Accord 2016’ at Pointe Denis in Gabon, June 23, 2016. The U.S. Army Africa’s exercise ‘Central Accord’ is an annual, combined, joint military exercise that brings together partner nations to practice and demonstrate proficiency in conducting peacekeeping operations.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Audrequez Evans
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: nationalgeographic.com
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.
Paratroopers of the Polish 6th Parachute Brigade jump into the Hohenfels training area in Germany during Exercise ‘Swift Response 16’.
Swift Response 16 includes more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United States and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 26, 2016.
Polish Army photo by Cpl. Mariusz Bieniek