The evaluation was part of MCSC’s Infantry Equipping Challenge, an ongoing effort that began in September to leverage new and emerging technologies from industry to enhance the capability of Infantry Marines. SOI-E Marines tested government-issued gear against commercial-off-the-shelf counterparts to inform future equipment requirements.
“The MCSC commander assembled the IEC team to look at the gear we field to Infantry Marines and examine how we can make it better,” said Dave Karcher, director of Systems Integration at MCSC and IEC team lead. “As we field new equipment, we continually reevaluate to see if we can take advantage of new technologies or systems to increase capability to Marines.”
The SOI-E Marines evaluated gas mask carriers, knee and elbow pads, camouflage paint, helmet retention systems and night vision goggle lens filters. They also tried out a 3-D printed adjustable buttstock prototype and assembled their ideal rifle cleaning kits. Throughout the evaluation, the Marines provided feedback to the IEC team from comfort and durability to compatibility with existing gear to help determine whether the products would meet their needs in the field.
“It’s important to have Marines do the testing because they’re the ones who’ll be using the equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Martin, a SOI-E combat instructor. “If it’s going to be for the infantry, it will be important to get everyone from privates to captains to do what we’re doing so there’s a wider breadth of people to evaluate the equipment.”
Evaluating how well commercial products integrate with existing Marine gear requires more than feedback. MCSC’s Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad Team, made up of engineers and experts who manage the integration and modernization of infantry equipment, also analyzed human performance factors and provided critical data to inform Marine Corps requirements. The MERS team will combine information gathered during this evaluation with data from previous IEC events.
“This event built off of the industry integration workshop we did during Modern Day Marine [in September] and an IEC event we had with Marines in November,” said Mark Richter, MERS team lead. “The data and analysis from the evaluation will give project officers and engineers a potential starting point that may lead to abbreviated acquisition programs, or contribute to attributes needed during the requirements generation process.”
Over the next 15 months, the IEC team will evaluate a wide range of gear MCSC fields to Infantry Marines. The nearest upcoming events will examine lightweight ammunition and lighter-weight batteries that may help reduce the Marine combat load.
“Infantry Marines are out there, on the edge, in some of the toughest environments,” Karcher said. “All they have with them is what they can carry. Getting Infantry Marines the most capable gear for whatever environment they may face is what drives MCSC and the IEC.”
Learn more about IEC events or provide feedback here.
By Ashley Calingo, Marine Corps Systems Command