Camp Hovey armor unit tests out new Army gear
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — Second Infantry Division armor soldiers were among the first to test the Army’s new Fire Resistant Environment Ensemble at Camp Hovey on Wednesday.
Crewmen assigned to Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks from the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment will evaluate the clothing for four months for the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, whose personnel were on hand from Fort Belvoir, Va., to distribute the gear.
Aviation soldiers at Camp Humphreys received a similar version of the gear earlier this week.
PEO Soldier personnel also were scheduled to distribute a third generation Extended Cold Weather Clothing System on Thursday.
A handful of soldiers were able to walk around and get a feel for the new gear.
When asked to compare the new gear to the current issue, most said the new clothing is superior.
“It’s not even a question,” said Bradley gunner Gavin Erickson, of 1-72’s Alpha Company. “This gives you the full range of motion. The old stuff is big and bulky and real hard to move around inside. And if you happen to get [the old uniform] wet, you just soak in it.”
The fire-resistant gear included three T-shirts for testing; one was 100 percent cotton; another didn’t list its fabric but felt a little like a synthetic blanket; the final shirt included spandex and felt like a cross between a typical T-shirt and an Under Armour-style shirt.
The gear also included balaclavas for cold and hot weather, which Erickson said would help soldiers in today’s wars.
“In Iraq, an IED goes off and you can get a lot of burns,” Erickson said. “This covers your face, neck, everywhere you need it.”
Soldiers testing the gear also received cold-weather gloves; temperate weather boots; two fabric types of armor crewman’s coverall; a base layer fleece; a jacket, jacket shell and pants.
The seven-layer cold-weather outfit is designed to withstand temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, officials said.
It received its initial evaluation by the 10th Mountain Division during their tour in Afghanistan, said PEO Soldier’s Maj. Clay Williamson.
All soldiers participating have received a program participation card should anyone stop them for wearing improper gear, Williamson said.
Soldiers said they wouldn’t know for sure how the new cold-weather gear would hold up until they brought it out to the field, where South Korea’s winds and snow would be the ultimate test.
However, some soldiers said right away that the extreme cold parka and trousers were an improvement.
“You could just throw those on in the snow and go to sleep,” said Cpl. Freddie Alvarado.
“I’ve only seen it for 20 minutes and I could tell it’s better just looking at it.”
The outfit has 12 pieces, including four different jackets, plus the parka, for varying temperature and moisture levels. Groups of 500 soldiers will test pieces of each clothing system, then be asked what they liked or disliked.
The Natick Soldier Center in Massachusetts will compile the results and make recommendations on further deployment or changes, officials said.