NATICK, Mass. — The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center recently designed and developed Army face coverings based on the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Department of Defense to wear cloth face coverings when social distancing protocols could not be met. Using the collective expertise gained from years of designing, developing and evaluating Army uniforms, load carrying equipment, and parachutes, the CCDC Soldier Center team created several types of face coverings for different applications.
After creating the patterns and testing them with Soldiers, the CCDC Soldier Center’s civilian employees and Soldiers produced more than 12,000 of the prototypes for use by Soldiers in training at Fort Benning, Georgia. The patterns and necessary information for large-scale production of the face coverings are now available in a Technical Data Package on the CCDC Soldier Center website, https://ccdcsoldiercenter.army.mil/#/whatwedo .
Face covering designs and material requirements were selected with the highest Soldier acceptance for form, fit and function and without interferences to other head borne protection systems and ancillary components. Two cloth materials, nylon/cotton blend and polyester/cotton blends were selected based on suitability of fabrics from past and current Soldier-related clothing development efforts.
The face covering is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, is designed to be safe for the wearer and should not present a health hazard during prolonged, direct contact with the skin. The materials selected do not have any chemical treatments to ensure highest possible safety considerations.
“This effort was a natural fit for the expertise at CCDC Soldier Center as we have expertise in materials that enabled smart choices on the selection of materials to ensure the safety of the users,” Dr. Richard Green, head of CCDC Soldier Center’s Soldier Protection and Survivability Directorate, said. “We have expertise in design to make sure that the items’ fit, function and durability are appropriate for the intended use, the expertise to provide our PM partners with technical data packages for further production and more importantly we have a dedicated team of true professionals who were willing to come to work under restrictive working conditions and speedily execute this project because they understand the importance of meeting this need and getting useful capabilities in our Soldiers’ hands today,” he added.
One size fits all, and all three types of face coverings have adjustable nose bridges for achieving a snug fit, an elastic cord with barrel lock for adjusting and securing the face covering to the face and are reusable and washable.
The CCDC Soldier Center’s scientific research, product design and development efforts have now been fully transitioned to the U.S. Army PEO Soldier Product Manager for Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, responsible for the acquisition, procurement and production of the Army face covering for Soldiers.
“During this pandemic, it is critical to national security to keep our Soldiers protected, healthy and ready to support COVID-19 response efforts and defend the nation,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of the Soldier Center. “The quick response to get an Army-acceptable solution to the requirement for face coverings is a tremendous accomplishment.”
“Getting our Soldiers the best equipment is a team sport and we used all our resources here,” he said. “A talented team of our employees, Soldiers from the Parachute Rigger section and NCOs and Human Research Volunteers from our Headquarters Research and Development Detachment all worked together to rapidly make the initial prototypes and then make minor design improvements based on feedback from the Soldiers.”