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
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
Looking like a scene from the movie “A Bridge Too Far”, a Polish Soldier reloads his machine-gun on a bridge in Torun, Poland during Exercise ‘Swift Response – 2016’.
The exercise is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multi-national airborne forces in the world. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of the combat core of the U.S. Global Response Force – currently the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team – to conduct rapid-response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe.
Swift Response 16 includes more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britian, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United States and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 26, 2016.
U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston