Soldier Systems Center
The Natick Laboratory Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center (Natick Laboratory) is a 78-acre facility located in Natick, Massachusetts. Natick is one of the western suburbs of Boston and is approximately 18 miles from downtown. The installation is primarily a research laboratory and is very small. The Natick Laboratory occupies a peninsula on the eastern shore of Lake Cochituate state park and recreational area and is bordered on the north and west by a residential area. The U.S. Army Natick Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NRDEC) is composed of two sites: the Natick Laboratory, in Natick, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and the Sudbury Annex, to the north near the towns of Maynard, Stow, and Hudson.
The site was purchased by the Army in 1949 from the Metropolitan District Commission. At the time of purchase the property was primarily used as a forested recreational area, but it also included a gravel pit in a section of the site now known as the Building T-25 Area. The Army built the Natick Laboratory in 1954 and has since used the area for industrial, laboratory, and storage activities for research and development in the areas of food science, aero-mechanical, clothing, material, and equipment engineering.
The Soldier Systems Center provide the Army with centralized management, program oversight, and direction for the development, production and deployment of soldier support systems and equipment. These are defined as materiel that supports soldiers individually or collectively in a tactical or operational environment. Examples of soldier support systems include laundries, showers, non-powered heaters, rigid and softwalled shelters, field feeding equipment, and cargo and personnel airdrop systems.
US Army Soldier Systems Command (SSCOM) is located in Natick, Massachusetts. Activated in November 1994, the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command provides dedicated research, development, engineering and acquisition support for the soldier in any and all environments. SSCOM has four major subordinate activities located at Natick: a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center (NRDEC), the Sustainment & Readiness Directorate (S&RD), and Project Manager-Soldier Support (PM-SSPT). The command also has the Project Manager-Soldier (PM-Soldier) located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
NRDEC is co-located at the headquarters of SSCOM. For 40 years, NRDEC has provided soldiers with a range of field feeding systems, new clothing items, improved ballistic protection as well as a variety of precision airdrop systems. The premier project at NRDEC is the 21st Century Land Warrior.
S&RD is responsible for the Command's Weapons Systems Management, Force Modernization/Integrated Logistics Support, Maintenance, Material Management, Logistics Operations and Security Assistance missions.
PM-SSPT is responsible for the centralized executive management, program oversight and direction for the development and production in the soldier support or field quality of life commodity areas. This includes Army field feeding systems, aerial delivery systems, unit/organizational equipment, field service equipment and shelters.
PM-Soldier is responsible for centralized program management with the lead responsibility for advanced engineering and development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment of future soldier systems.
Providing soldiers in the field the best equipment and ensuring that equipment has a system approach is the goal of SSCOM.
In addition to serving as the Headquarters for SSCOM and several of its sub-commands, it is also the location of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Navy Clothing Textile & Research Laboratory.
One hundred thirty soldiers and approximately nine hundred seventy-five civilian employees are responsible for carrying out the missions at Natick. Since the installation is so small, it does not have the typical range of support services found on larger installations. For example, there is no school on the installation and the nearest commissary is twenty miles away at Hanscom Air Force Base. On the positive side, the installation is situated in a beautiful location, has small housing areas scattered among the surrounding towns, is served by some of the best public schools in the country, and is next door to one of the most interesting cities in the nation. It is a vibrant and exciting place to live and work.
The installation is located one mile from the center of Natick, a suburb of Boston. It is a safe and convenient place to live and work, close to one of the most interesting cities in the country. The Town of Natick is has a population of about 30,000. It is located on the upper basin of the Charles and Concord Rivers and has an extensive complex of ponds and lakes. The town was established in 1650 and for the next two hundred years was primarily a farming community. Because it had good sources of water power, Natick became a center for industry during the early 19th century. The shoe industry dominated the community with the first shoe sole manufacturer established in 1827. Local tradition claims that several loads of Natick men shipped out to the California gold rush in 1849 and 1850, returning with enough capital to start independent businesses in the town. By the 1880's, Natick was the third largest shoe production community in the country. In modern times, Natick has become a Boston-oriented suburban community with heavy strip development on Route 9. The current population is 31,438 and is growing at the rate of two percent a year.
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