April 1, 2011: We’ve been invited to an ‘industry day’ on the Army’s helmet pads 10 May in Arlington, VA. Gotta schlep ancient self up the night before in order to be able to walk and attend. Costly, but something that’s has to be done…using no Operation Helmet funds, as that’s for helmet pad upgrades alone. Let’s hope for better information than that we’re used to receiving.
UPdate: PEO Soldier is opening their test protocol to all vendors who submit helmet pads. After an initial round of tests (using the same old outdated protocol of the Dept of Transportation vehicle crash tests), four ‘finalists’ will be selected. That final group will undergo additional tests at higher levels of impact plus undergo ‘user evaluation’ simulations as well as actual wearing of helmets containing the pads. One ‘winner’ will then be selected to possibly retrofit the 1.5 million Army helmets currently in circulation and/or possibly be the helmet pad for the Enhanced Combat Helmet now under testing…or not.
June 2, 2011: A RFP is coming out at the end of June as discussed in the meeting in April (above). All vendors of helmet pads are invited to send samples in for testing. The best four of them will then be subjected to additional testing, and the final selection sent ‘up the chain’ with a recommendation for purchase. We’ll post a link to the RFP when it is available.
I apologize for not correcting this blog entry earlier when I found out the details of a single-vendor award. The earlier blog included this statement:” this notice came out today; the Army awarded Team Wendy $657,170.00 to pay for their R&D expenses to develop new helmet pads, the only vendor so favored.” This award came from Natick Soldier’s Lab, not PEO Soldier. It took me a couple of days to sort out the details, then forgot to come back and correct a wrongful assumption. When you rearrange the letters in assume, it spells SO SUE MY ASS! Or something like that.
In any case, I feel that a level playing field stimulating entrepreneurial competition beats government intervention any time. If you’re going to throw money at a problem, do so in a manner that makes the most of American ingenuity instead of limiting largesse to one vendor alone.
Update: 8 Feb 2012: The helmet pad systems of two vendors were chosen; each had submitted two designs for testing and both vendor’s two submissions were chosen, making up the ‘final four’ for further testing. Of note is that NO changes may be made when the ‘final’ one (or two) are sent ‘upstream’ with a recommendation for acquisition and distribution.
Let’s hope this isn’t a feint to distract folks while plans are afoot to continue the same tired old ‘shrink wrapped rocks’ currently in use.
The HIT group’s helmet pads contain the same technology as those we’re sending our combat troops; we must be doing something right. Troops keep us busy asking for the replacement pads the American public help us buy and send.
In the words of the supplier of the current GI helmet pads, (Team Wendy’s ZAP and Epic) instead of re-engineering their pads:
“IF IT’S NOT COMFORTABLE IT’S YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT”
No it isn’t. It’s the fault of warriors in air-conditioned foxholes and slick leather chairs who believe with all their dark little hearts they know better than combat troops what works on the ground in combat.