CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Dozens of Marines and civilian personnel assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, attended an Infantry Combat Equipment Display July 22 at the MarForPac Headquarters here.
The purpose of the event was to familiarize personnel with the numerous improvements Marine Corps Systems Command made to Marine combat and cold-weather equipment in the last few years.
“It’s our job to put out equipment displays, give Marines an opportunity to ask questions and see some of the new innovations being fielded today,” said Sam Pagatpatan, a MARCORSYSCOM field service representative. “I feel it’s our obligation to ensure everyone gets to know this gear.”
Numerous innovations to the Marine Corps cold weather survival equipment have been made during the past few years. What used to be a sleeping system of two bags that required Marines to strip down to a bare minimum in order for their body heat to fill the bag uninterrupted by layers of clothing or equipment, is now a single, lighter and thinner sleeping bag designed keep Marines warm by allowing them to wear additional layers of cold weather clothing, trapping their body heat within each layer they choose to wear.
“With the old sleeping system, you’d have to practically be naked and sweating to stay warm in it,” said Gunnery Sgt. Nathaniel Blacksmith, administrative chief to the MarForPac Staff Secretary. “If Marines can keep their gear on, they stay more protected and can get in the fight quicker if necessary.”
Another innovation was the deployer bag, a khaki travel-sized bag with numerous straps and wheels for ease of transportation.
According to Daniel Hernandez, an Infantry Combat Equipment instructor with MARCORSYSCOM, the bag is designed to contain all of a Marine’s personal protective equipment in an easily-accessible, lightweight container. The bag also meets U.S. shipping and mailing requirements.
“One of the things Marines didn’t really have was a place to store all of their PPE,” Hernandez said. “This bag can hold all of their gear, it’s water proof and it makes it easier to take their gear out because it opens from the center, unlike the (Improved Load Bearing Equipment) pack.”
In addition to current innovations, Pagatpatan gave a glimpse of some improvements in the works, such as the Improved Modular Tactical Vest (IMTV), which MARCORSYSCOM is currently field testing.
According to Pagatpatan, the IMTV is designed to be lighter and more comfortable than the current MTV while maintaing the same level of protection.
The Scalable Plate Carrier (SPC), displayed at the event, is the Marine Corps’ current alternative to the MTV. The SPC is a smaller, lighter flak jacket that sacrifices some shrapnel protection for increased mobility.
“The SPC has been around for a while and it’s been used primarily by infantry units in the past,” Pagatpatan said. “But you should be seeing a lot more of them in the near future. We are currently very involved in training (1st and 2nd Battalions, 3rd Marine Regiment) how to properly use them for their deployments to Afghanistan later this year.”
Pagatpatan and his team displayed numerous other innovations, such as upgraded fire-resistant protective clothing and special operations PPE.
“It’s great to come out and be able to do this for Marines,” said Arthur Sanchez, another MARCORSYSCOM Infantry Combat Equipment instructor. “This command doesn’t deploy as a unit. A lot of Marines here don’t get to see this gear unless they (individually augment to deploy with another unit). Hopefully we answered the questions they needed to know so the gear doesn’t seem so foreign if they deploy to (Operation Enduring Freedom).”