For Soldiers’ Comfort

A slew of companies is trying to make life easier for soldiers living in harsh terrains

Jaison Deepak

Combat forces are often required to operate in diverse environmental conditions over long periods of time. This can have an adverse effect on their alertness, and can be disconcerting for the troops and their wellbeing. Thus, it becomes imperative to provide proper nutrition, right clothing material and hi-tech equipment to the troops to combat severe weather conditions. Various companies are developing clothes, food and equipment to make life better for such soldiers.

A Soldier on patrol duty at a likely infiltration route

 

Personnel Clothing

New Generation soldier clothing is designed keeping in mind comfort, mobility and camouflage. Lighter, more breathable fabrics which retain less moisture or prevent it from contacting the skin can greatly enhance comfort and mobility. Equally important are abrasion resistant fabric. The Multicam camouflage pattern, which was first used by the US forces, is being adopted by many armies. MultiCam and its inspired designs aim to blend with a variety of surroundings such as deserts, urban areas and jungles. This was adopted after failed experiments with pixelated designs.

Previously, fire resistant uniforms were provided to air and vehicle crew but recent experiences with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have shown that incorporating it with the infantry can prove beneficial too. The combat shirt increasingly used by NATO armies uses fire-resistant, lightweight, breathable and moisture wicking fabrics intended to greatly increase comfort and mobility in hot and humid conditions. They have been used widely in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now improved variants based on feedback are being developed. They can be used in conjunction with plate carrier systems like the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) and Osprey. The combat blouse, and pants are also made out of similar fabrics and come with integrated pads for the knees and elbows to prevent injuries.



NATO armies have been using knee height water resistant socks to prevent the feet from getting soaked in moisture and thus creating discomfort and infections. This can be particularly useful in tropical areas and plains with water bodies.

 

Individual Soldier Load Carrying System

A soldier’s individual load has been seen as one of the biggest concerns for commanders in recent years. A good individual load carrying system can provide the troops with better mobility and comfort for a given load vis-a-vis legacy systems. The US Army Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) has been at the forefront in this field and similar concepts are emerging in other armies as well. The Indian Army has also expressed interest to provide modular load carrying systems for its troops. Any modular load carrying system consists of the following items:

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