U.S. Army science advisors engage in technology discussions in Malaysia

A Soldier assigned to Commanche Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, shows a member of the 9th Royal Ranger Regiment, Malaysian Armed Forces, how to properly adjust a M240L machine gun while it is mounted on a tripod during the academics week of Keris Strike 2015. (U.S. Army photo)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 30, 2015) — U.S. Army science advisors traveled to Exercise Keris Strike 15 in Malaysia to discuss technological and equipment issues with Soldiers.

Lt. Col. David Scooler, director of the U.S. Army International Technology Center in Singapore, said 25th Infantry Division Soldiers shared their challenges operating in a jungle environment.

“We went out there looking for problems that Soldiers are encountering and capturing those. Many of the Soldiers were concerned about the current boots versus the old jungle boots from Vietnam,” he said. “The current treads on boots have poor gripping capability in the muddy jungle. It has a soft heel instead of a rugged heel where they could dig in when climbing up wet terrain.

“There is ongoing research to develop a better combat boot.”

Members of the Malaysian 9th Royal Ranger Regiment ask questions to U.S. Soldiers about the M240L Machine Gun after a rate of fire demonstration during the academic week of Exercise Keris Strike Sept. 15, 2015. (U.S. Army photo)

Keris Strike is an annual, bilateral exercise hosted by the Malaysian Armed Forces. This year marks the 19th iteration.

Capt. Ira Smith of U.S. Army Reserve Sustainment Command’s Detachment 8 and Scooler split their time between the cities of Taiping and Ipoh from Sept. 10 to 22.

Another concern among Soldiers is how the current Army Combat Uniform performs in the jungle’s extreme heat and humidity, Scooler said. The ACU does not wick moisture away and is slow to dry. The standard-issue cotton undershirt and socks could cause significant rash and are also slow to dry.

“The ACU traps the moisture from your body and weighs you down. It doesn’t dry or wick away the moisture quick enough, and you’re burdened carrying this extra weight around,” he said.

RDECOM research centers are studying regional uniforms to match the climate in which Soldiers will deploy.

The ITC in Singapore, which covers Southeast Asia, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. The ITC mission is to work with countries to advance science and technology capabilities that are relevant to both countries while meeting the Army’s goals.

The team submitted 14 requests for information to RDECOM headquarters on behalf of Soldiers. The RFIs are forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Army research and development centers. Six requests were answered during the exercise.

“Sometimes the rank distracts them, but once you tell them what RDECOM does and how we can help, they provide good feedback about problems they are experiencing with their equipment,” Scooler said.

In addition to identifying equipment problems, Scooler and Smith facilitated Soldiers evaluating two pieces of technology at the field-training site.

The team also gathered feedback from Soldiers who used 16 pairs of Clip-on Thermal Imaging devices that, when used with night-vision goggles, provided a thermal overlay in addition to the capability to see at night.

“The goal of our mission was not to disrupt the unit’s operations but to be an asset. Soldiers understood that problems identified would probably not help them in the near term but may better the future forces,” Scooler said. “However, it was nice to see how Soldiers were able to overcome challenges and adapt to the jungle.”

Strike 2015 was the third and final exercise of the Pacific Pathways mission in which U.S. Soldiers deployed to three countries to train alongside allies’ military forces.

Editor’s note: The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Originally published at www.army.mil on October 30, 2015.