U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center
The United States Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) is a military research complex and installation in Natick, Massachusetts
Natick, Massachusetts
Natick is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. Natick is located near the center of the MetroWest region of Massachusetts, with a population of 33,006 at the 2010 census. Only west from Boston, Natick is considered part of the Greater Boston area...

 charged by the U.S. Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 with the research and development (including fielding and sustainment) of food, clothing, shelters, airdrop systems, and other servicemember support items for the U.S. military. The installation includes facilities from all the military services, not just the Army, and is so configured to allow cross-service cooperation and collaboration both within the facility and with the many academic, industrial and governmental institutions in the Greater Boston
Greater Boston
Greater Boston is the area of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts surrounding the city of Boston. Due to ambiguity in usage, the size of the area referred to can be anywhere between that of the metropolitan statistical area of Boston and that of the city's combined statistical area which includes...


The SSC is sometimes called the Natick Army Labs, although this designation more properly refers to one of its tenant units, the United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).

The Installation

The SSC occupies 78 acres (315,655.1 m²) at its main Natick campus and has an additional 46 acres (186,155.6 m²) in neighboring communities. The main campus is located to the northwest of Natick center and abuts upon Lake Cochituate
Lake Cochituate
Lake Cochituate is a body of water in Natick, Wayland, and Framingham, Massachusetts. Originally a reservoir serving Boston, it no longer serves that function, and is now a local recreational resource and home to Cochituate State Park.-Description:...


Employee/tenant numbers total 1,957 (159 military personnel, 1,048 civilians and 750 contractors).

The SSC public relations office reports that the installation’s FY2006 funding totaled approximately US Dollar 1 Billion and that the facilities infuse more than USD 135 million annually into the local economy through installation salaries, utilities and local contracts.

The installation commander is a U.S. Army Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

, who is stationed at Natick.


The SSC includes facilities designed to research and test both materials (textiles, combat rations) and human performance (human research volunteers) under simulated environmental extremes (altitude, heat, cold, wind, etc.). The requirement for improved combat rations has led to developments in food irradiation
Food irradiation
Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, increase of juice yield, and improvement of re-hydration...

 and freeze-drying techniques. Improved body armor, new military parachuting technology, and enhanced military garments designed for a variety of environments are all ongoing efforts.


Construction of the Quartermaster Research Facility at Natick, authorized by Congress in October 1949, began in November 1952. A year later, the QRF was redesignated as the Quartermaster Research and Development Center and four years later as the Quartermaster Research and Engineering Command.

July 1961 saw the activation of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick and a year later the QREC was placed under the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC). In November 1962, the QREC was redesignated as Natick Laboratories and the following year the Food and Container Institute moved to Natick. July 1967 saw the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility relocate to Natick.

Natick Laboratories became a subordinate element to the Troop Support Command in July 1973 and was redesignated two years later as the U.S. Army Natick Development Center and reassigned to the AMC. The NDC was redesignated the U.S. Army Natick Research and Development Command in January 1976 and assigned to the U.S. Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command. (The same month, AMC was redesignated the U.S. Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command (DARCOM).)

In September 1980, the NRDC was redesignated as the U.S. Army Natick Research & Development Laboratories and three years later as the U.S. Army Natick Research and Development Center, a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Troop Support Command in St. Louis, Missouri. (DARCOM and TSC merged in July 1992 forging the U.S. Army Aviation & Troop Command, St. Louis, Mo.)

In October 1992, the NRDC was redesignated the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (its current name), still a subordinate element of the ATC. A U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command (SSC) was activated at Natick in November 1994. Elements subsequently established at the SSC included the Sustainment & Readiness Directorate (February 1995) and Product Manager-Soldier Support (October 1995); elements subsequently relocated to Natick included the Clothing and Services Office (October 1996; from Ft. Lee, Virginia) and Product Manager-Force Provider (June 1997). The Sustainment & Readiness Directorate became the Integrated Material Management Center in October 1997. SSC merged with the Chemical Biological Defense Command to become the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command in October 1998. At this time the installation was renamed the United States Army Soldier Systems Center.

Tenant units and facilities

The SSC hosts several tenant units and facilities at its Natick installation:
  • The United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), also known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center (NSC), or The Natick Army Labs, an element of the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) at Aberdeen Proving Ground
    Aberdeen Proving Ground
    Aberdeen Proving Ground is a United States Army facility located near Aberdeen, Maryland, . Part of the facility is a census-designated place , which had a population of 3,116 at the 2000 census.- History :...

    , Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    . (RDECOM is in turn a subordinate unit of U.S. Army Materiel Command
    United States Army Materiel Command
    The U.S. Army Materiel Command is the primary provider of materiel to the United States Army.The Command's mission includes the research & development of weapons systems as well as maintenance and parts distribution....

     (AMC) at Fort Belvoir
    Fort Belvoir
    Fort Belvoir is a United States Army installation and a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. Originally, it was the site of the Belvoir plantation. Today, Fort Belvoir is home to a number of important United States military organizations...

    , Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...


  • The United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine
    United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine
    The United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine is the U.S Army’s main institution and facility for military environmental medicine and exercise physiology research. It is located at Natick, MA within the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center installation, but is a subordinate lab...

    (USARIEM), a subordinate lab of the U. S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), headquartered at Fort Detrick
    Fort Detrick
    Fort Detrick is a U.S. Army Medical Command installation located in Frederick, Maryland, USA. Historically, Fort Detrick was the center for the United States' biological weapons program ....

    , MD, USA.

  • The United States Army Installation Management Command
    United States Army Installation Management Command
    The United States Army Installation Management Command supports the United States Army's warfighting mission by providing standardized, effective & efficient services, facilities and infrastructure to Soldiers, Civilians and Families for an Army and Nation engaged in persistent conflict...


  • The United States Army Integrated Logistics and Support Center (ILSC)

  • The United States Coast Guard Clothing Design and Technical Office (CDTO)

  • The United States Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility

  • The United States Army Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS)

  • The United States Army RDECOM Acquisition Center - Natick, the Natick Contracting Division of RDECOM AC, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

  • An office of the Government Services Administration (GSA)
  • An office of the Hanscom Federal Credit Union
  • An office of the United States Health Services Command
  • An office of the Defense Automated Printing Service
  • An office of the United States Army Audit Agency

  • The Doriot Climatic Chamber Complex
    Doriot Climatic Chambers
    The Doriot Climatic Chambers are a pair of very large, highly specialized wind tunnels/environmental chambers located at the U.S. Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts...

  • Combat Rations Production and Packaging Facility
  • 3-D Anthropometrics Laboratory
  • Camouflage Evaluation Facility
  • Rain Court
  • Hydro-Environmental Chamber
  • Shade Room
  • Fiber Plant
  • Thermal and Flame Laboratory
  • Military Operations in Urban Environment (MOUT) Lab/Facility

Products and systems

Natick Labs has developed or is developing the following items or systems:
  • The MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat)
  • Irradiated food
  • The "instant chapel"
  • Bulletproof clothing
  • MOLLE Loadcarriage Equipment
  • Land Warrior
    Land Warrior
    Land Warrior is a United States Army program, cancelled in 2007, that was to use a combination of commercial, off-the-shelf technology and current-issue military gear and equipment designed to:* integrate small arms with high-tech equipment;...

  • Future Soldier
    Future Soldier
    Future Soldier is the overall name given to a multi-nation military project by the United States and its allies launched in the late 1990s. A Future Soldier is also a Soldier who has enlisted in the United States Military, but is delayed in shipping...

  • Future Force Warrior
    Future Force Warrior
    Future Force Warrior is a United States military advanced technology demonstration project that is part of the Future Combat Systems project. The FFW project seeks to create a lightweight, fully integrated infantryman combat system. It is one technology demonstration project in a series of...

  • Collective Protection Shelters
  • Interceptor Body Armor
    Interceptor body armor
    Interceptor Body Armor is the United States Army's primary bulletproof vest. The Interceptor design replaced the older fragmentation protective Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops body armor system, introduced in the early 1980s...

  • Quarpel, a water-repellent, water and stain resistant textile treatment

See also

  • Future Integrated Soldier Technology
  • Armed Forces Recipe Service
    Armed Forces Recipe Service
    The Armed Forces Recipe Service is a compendium of high-volume foodservice recipes written and updated regularly by the United States Department of Defense Natick Laboratories, and used not only by military cooks but by institutional and catering operations...

    (maintained by Natick Labs until 2009)

External links

This article contains information that originally came from US Government publications and websites and is in the public domain.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.