Infantry Equipping Challenge Drives Toward Leaner, More Lethal Gear for Marines
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) and the Marine Corps School of Infantry–East (SOI-E) teamed up Dec. 5-8, to evaluate gear designed to make Marines leaner and more lethal on the battlefield, the MCSC said in a Jan. 17 release.
The evaluation was part of MCSC’s Infantry Equipping Challenge (IEC), 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 re-evaluate 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 (MERS) 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.