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The so-called “grounding” is a program offered to Army civilian employees to get familiar with the “boots on the ground” they’re supporting from behind a desk or lab table. Three engineers from the Army’s PEO for Soldier Equipment and clothing headed into the field with a bunch of harder than woodpecker lips NCOs for three days during their NCO academy training.
“It gave them an opportunity to be with the Soldiers, seeing what Soldiers do 24-7,” said Tom Theaux, JRTC Science Advisor. They also saw first-hand the gear the Soldiers operate with: The engineers were issued uniforms, rain jackets and pants, assault packs, and sleeping bags. They brought their own boots, sun and/or patrol caps, socks, protective eyewear, gloves, and hydration systems. All the equipment provided to them was Army-issue, and in some cases, they used test versions of products undergoing improvements, such as the Fire-Resistant ACU trouser and the medium ruck, offering them a chance to be on the receiving end of their own efforts back at PEO Soldier.
Call it a CONUS mini-embed…
The ten-pound brains got an earful on female ACU sizing, that damned Velcro all over the ACU and the stinky, ripped mess those combat shirts can become after just a few patrols. The engineers were gratified that those complaints were already being addressed (except the Velcro issue)…
SFC Vernon J. Alcorn, Senior Small Group Leader at JRTC, thought the “grounding” experience had benefits for the Soldiers, as well as the three participants from PEO Soldier. Alcorn called it “a great opportunity to link the Soldier with the individual who puts items on their backs and systems in their hands. This is a unique experience for these Soldiers to understand the process that takes place when the Army is developing new items for them to use,” he said. “It also gives the Soldiers time to show somebody what we do on a day-to-day basis that wouldn’t necessarily know otherwise.”
I'm a marketing gal in the publishing business who works directly with the defense & aerospace industry. While the days are long, and the travel is sometimes a bit overwhelming, I absolutely positively love it! Not only do I get to meet some of the most brilliant minds on the planet, but I get to meet real life hero's risking their lives every day to protect my freedom.