PEO-Soldier, the agency responsible for developing, acquiring and fielding Army equipment, recognizes there is no one-solution fit that is universal to all Soldiers, so many look to the commercial market to augment Army-issued gear.
However, not all off-the-shelf equipment and clothing labeled “mil-spec” has been actually certified for military use. Under the PEO-Soldier Certification Program, Approved Product Lists, or APLs, have been developed and are being adapted to incorporate various types of equipment as requirements are identified.
Items presently on the APLs include eyewear, combat gloves and the family of flashlights.
“The Army will always prioritize the internal design, creation, testing and fielding of the best Army issue equipment available,” said Lt. Col. Michael Sloane, PEO-Soldier product manager for clothing and individual equipment. However, Sloane acknowledged there are suitable and reasonable alternatives outside the Army.
Through responses to solicitations, manufacturers who are interested in receiving PEO-Soldier certification are asked to submit their products to the Army for testing to determine suitability and possible inclusion in the APLs.
APL authorizations and enhancements are driven by rigid standardized testing and user input, officials said. Once certification is obtained, approved products are branded with the Army Team Soldier Certification logo. The logo also appears on issue items to help ensure Soldiers aren’t misled into purchasing knock-off items. The logo will either be incorporated into a tag or branded directly on equipment.
“I think this is an excellent tool for Soldiers and leaders,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Corp, equipment modernization NCO for the product manager office. “It helps Soldiers make the best decisions possible when purchasing personal equipment.”
Although the PEO-Soldier Certification Program is primarily aimed at providing assurance to Soldiers who buy gear from authorized vendors, some vendors may also be licensed to sell some of the same gear in general commercial markets. In these cases, the licenses will be royalty-bearing, with net royalty proceeds benefiting the Army’s morale, welfare and recreation programs.