Located in Natick, Massachusetts, and officially known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the installation is often referred to by its common nickname of ‘Natick Labs’.
Whatever you call it though, there’s no doubt that these folks do some very important work – even if you don’t hear of it very often. One part of that important work is in developing new gear to meet the ever evolving challenges of modern-day combat and stabilization missions. Long gone are the days of lowest-common-denominator and one-size-fits-all – the modern American soldier is equipped with some of the most specially-designed and high-performance gear on the battlefield.
In the photo above, a squad from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) visit the equipment lab to discuss load carriage with NSRDEC’s individual equipment designer, Rich Landry. Their visit was part of the Science & Technology Project Integration Pilot, a collaborative program that pairs Natick scientists and engineers with paratroopers from the 82nd’s 504th PIR. Within an hour of the meeting, Landry had already begun developing the prototype for a performance enhancing rucksack based on their feedback.
Landry is also no stranger to carrying heavy loads in the field – he was once a Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division himself. In the video below, he talks about that experience and how it has helped him in his work at Natick.