The army plans to launch two extensive gear tests in the coming two months in the jungle climate of Hawaii and the harsh Alaskan landscape.
The tests are part of the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP), which allows the Army to try out commercially available gear quickly, without having to waste time or money starting from scratch, explained Col. Tim Wallace, head of SEP.
The jungle gear tests are a priority as more soldiers deploy to the tropics of Asia.
Soldiers sent to Hawaii will test:
■ A variety of boots that are designed to be quick-drying and light. “This is probably the No. 1 request we’ve gotten,” Wallace said. Officials with Rocky Brands and Danner have both said they are submitting footwear for this test.
■ Quick-drying uniform fabrics that are thinner and with fewer coatings. The Army is also considering using fewer pockets, Wallace said.
■ Water purification systems.
This test is expected to being in January.
Soldier in Alaska will be testing a variety of cold-weather gear including sleep systems, gloves, ski binding, extreme cold weather tentage and a team stove.
Participating units will include soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division and US Army Alaska, said Maj. Andrew Kirby, SEP’s assistant product manager.
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The test is a follow-on to a similar gear trial held this summer that involved soldiers facing extreme elements to climb Mount McKinley. Maj. Andrew Kirby, assistant product manager for SEP, said some product adjustments have been made for this second trial, which will again occur in “some of the coldest places in the world to do this.”
It’s definitely time to upgrade Army’s cold-weather gear, which is “very old,” Wallace said
SEP is encouraging soldiers and manufacturers to submit their ideas for a gear evaluation to improve a combat mission. Submit your ideas by visiting the SEP website.