News: Hood Soldiers provide feedback on new technology at expo
Story by Staff Sgt. Bryanna Poulin
KILLEEN, Texas - More than 75 exhibitors gathered at Club Hood March, 28-29, giving soldiers an inside look at the next generation of equipment and technology supporting soldiers.
From advanced operation and tactical gear to product demonstrations, soldiers got a chance to provide feedback on what works and what doesn't on the battlefield during the two-day Soldier Equipment & Technology Expo and Conference.
"It's important to share with the industry relevant information and how it impacts our soldiers on and off the battlefield." Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen D. Blake, of the Army Sustainment Command said.
Although vendors were there marketing products, they weren't really trying to sell them.
"Today, our soldiers provide feedback to the industry," Blake said. "So when you see these great ideas sitting on their displays, it's not because they are trying to sell something. It's about us providing them feedback on why it won't work, why it will work and why it's a great idea, but not the right concept fully developed."
Although there are thousands of products that are game-changers, soldiers are the first to know whether or not a product does what it's supposed to do. Soldiers asked vendors if they were willing to bet their lives on their technology.
"Simple things impact soldiers on the battlefield," Blake said. "What products give us the upper hand against the enemy?"
While having an edge over the enemy is key, it's equally important for soldiers to exhibit operational adaptability, as well.
“Soldiers are still the Army’s centerpiece,” Brig. Gen. Robert Dyess, director of Requirements Integration Directorate, Army Capabilities Integration Center, said. “We have to provide the resources for soldiers as they go into harm’s way. The key to this is adaptability. If there is a theme, we need to be adaptable as an Army, as an institution.”
Being adaptable as an Army also means keeping things simple.
“We need to think like the companies designing race cars. They design the car around the driver. They don’t design the car and put the driver in it,” Blake said. “We need to plan equipment around our Soldier, our mission, instead of designing the equipment and expecting the soldier to do the mission. “
Nonetheless, simple things also impact soldiers on the battlefield and can tilt the advantage in a soldier’s favor.
“Simple things do work. Look at the tourniquet we have today,” Blake said. “It’s simple, but it’s saving lives.”
Simple products, like a water-based weapons lubricant offered by one vendor appealed to many soldiers versus the cleaner, lubricant, preservative, or CLP, presently used by many units.
“I got a few samples that I plan to try out,” Sgt. Rene Hernandez, an infantryman with First Army Division West, said. “The demonstration offered a lot of information and I am going to try to see if it works better than CLP.”
Although the products don’t have to be perfect, they have to be good, Blake said, adding that continuing to leverage technology for the soldier’s sake is the right thing to do.
“As long as the people right in this room, with their simple little widgets and gadgets, make the difference in our men and women to be able to bounce back and come out with fewer injuries,” Blake said, “it’s that important.”