Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, center, examines body armor during a Feb. 24 visit to the Natick Soldier Systems Center.

Army chief of staff visits Natick

When Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley came Feb. 24 to check in on the latest technology being developed at the Natick Soldier Systems Center, he no doubt felt right at home.

Milley, the 39th CSA, was about 25 miles from his native Winchester, Massachusetts, and even closer to the Belmont Hill School, where he played ice hockey and football before leaving his home state in 1976 to skate and study at Princeton University. He graduated from Princeton and received his commission in 1980.

Milley was welcomed to Natick by Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Brig. Gen. Anthony W. Potts, senior commander, Natick Soldier Systems Center; and Douglas Tamilio, director, Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

“It’s a highly skilled workforce,” said Wins in his introductory comments about Natick. “It’s also a workforce we have to compete for.”

The visit was meant to align Natick with Milley’s vision, show the unique value of Army science and technology, and explain the Army’s partnerships and alliances in the New England region.

During the visit, Milley heard about performance nutrition, assured re-supply, Soldier and squad performance optimization, individual Soldier protection, Soldier systems integration, camouflage and signature management, expeditionary maneuver support, individual Soldier power and energy, and individual water purification. As he moved from station to station, he offered comments to the briefers.

“I want the most advanced … stuff, but I’m not wasting money,” Milley said. “I’ve got to retool the Army to fight the next war, not the last one.

“Keep it light. Keep it simple. Think logically.”

At the end of his tour, Milley thanked the assembled Soldiers and civilians for their work at Natick.

“You guys are doing great work, and I personally appreciate it,” Milley said. “It’s very, very important, what you’re doing. Everything we wear and touch and that which is actually most important to the individual Soldiers is stuff that comes from Natick, and that’s been like that for many, many years.

“I personally appreciate it on behalf of 1.1 million Soldiers out there; but beyond Soldiers, you’re outfitting Marines, you’re outfitting the Navy, you’re outfitting the Air Force, you’re outfitting the Coast Guard, and, in fact, you’re outfitting many, many foreign armies, as well. Keep driving on.”

Milley pointed out that he had a personal stake in what happens at Natick because of his long background as a dismounted infantry Soldier who trained and fought in what’s made here. He also told Natick workers that he appreciates how they network with the force and other researchers inside and outside of the Army.

“You probably don’t realize the full extent, the bow wave, the sort of second and third order effects of what you do up here,” Milley said. “It might not strike home every day … and you might not fully comprehend the impact of (this) little niche pocket of innovations that is punching way above its weight — all around the world, actually.”

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The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilties for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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