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Senator Steve Daines today fought to enhance the safety of America’s soldiers in combat theaters by underscoring the importance of lighter gear for soldiers.
During this morning’s Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 funding request for the Army, Daines pressed Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy and Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley on issuing lighter materials to soldiers on the battlefield.
The Army Research Lab has strong partnerships with many universities throughout the country – including in Montana – through their Open Campus Initiative. Through partnerships with universities in Montana, and other Army programs, the Army is actively working to acquire lower weight gear.
A section of Daines’ conversation with Milley is as follows:
Daines: “In 2001, the Army Science Board concluded that the weight carried by soldiers lead to decreased mobility and increased fatigue as well as injury. But its recommendation – that soldiers carry no more than 50 pounds for any length of time – has not proven possible in the field. Despite a partnership with our leading universities across the country in 2009, and even developing some lower weight gear – our soldiers are still carrying well over 50 pounds under combat loads. Does the Research and Development request in materials technology this year cover the full cost to get to really achieving the goal of finding a way to reduce the load and get it under 50 pounds?”
Milley: “With respect to the soldier’s load and the soldier’s initiatives, we have an entire program that is dedicated towards developing lightweight materials for equipment – both personal protection equipment and load carrying equipment along with weapons, and munitions and so on and forth. Anything to lighten to load of a soldier is important, is survival. It is critical to the soldier’s survival. The research and development for lighter weight materials is really critical and has to do with the survivability of soldiers on the battlefield.”