https://www.marinecorpstimes.c...an-unconscious-woman

OK, first, ignore the full link wording - Defense News and their .mil Times website has this as the link to the article.

My point is that the system being tested looks like it uses First Spear Tubes.  Is it one of their PCs?  

After the Army mess with Multi-cam, I'd be very leery about partnering with DOD/Army if I was a vendor working in that realm.

Tankersteve

In Yorktown, VA.          Joined August 2008

Gov't Civilian, after retiring from active duty in 2015. 

 

'One's own open sore never smells.'  - Haitian proverb

Original Post

So, I got to play around with these a while ago. It's a weird modularish system. It seemed like they were trying to make a flak that was scalable from plate carrier size to MTVish size. It was like a MOLLE over sleeve for the slim PC portion. It was weird how that worked. The outer sleeve didn't feel like it had extra protection in it and the people running the event didn't have a firm answer, though the consensus was that it didn't. I didn't personally see the purpose of the outer part since the slim PC portion already had the MOLLE minus stuff on it. I felt movement was more restricted with the over sleeve on. They asked how I would wear and I told them I would mandate all my guys were the slim configuration.

In slim configuration it felt alright. Though I must say that the old SPC from Eagle and my SKD PIG both felt better in fit, weight distribution, and maneuverability. I wasn't a fan of the side plate pockets. I'm not sure what they did differently than the SPC and ISPC, but they didn't really feel that good. And this was after trying different size plates, carriers, and having the people work like squires dressing me up.  In short, the size they said I was supposed to wear felt a bit too much, and they weren't too happy with me requesting to go a size down in plates.

In good news, we have the FS Tubes or a knockoff. Never got clarification and I'd never used them before. I will say I really like them. Like alot. Part of the reasoning behind them using the Tubes was to eliminate the requirement to use a ripcord quick release. Totally down with that. The ripcords have been unreliable enough for me in the ISPC that I tied my cummerbund with 550 cord in the back. My revelation of that to the guy running the Tubes station resulted in a way too  long diatribe about how I was stupid and how when he was on boats in the 80s he never didn't have his quick release ready. I couldn't convey the fact to him that I've never been on a boat and almost all the time I spent in a flak was away from water (Helmand and Nimroz deserts). But I digress.

They were also trying out an adjustable pack frame for the USMC pack we got several years ago. The current frame receives a lot of complaints. A decent amount snap from use (they're plastic) or worse (IMO) they flex side to side with your spine. Not fun. The new one has an adjustable height and is lighter. Same plastic composition though. Adjustable, cool. Same material but less of it, not so cool. I predict even more broken frames. I'm personally a fan of using an ALICE frame in conjunction with the pack. Integrates with the flak better too.

So, I got told by my Gunny I was gonna be a gear tester. He was wrong. This event I attended was not so much testing as it was the people getting measurements of a wide spectrum of Marines to assist in development of gear. Didn't know if these people were SYSCOM or FS or what. They didn't really want constructive feedback. I got to stand in line and listen to a female butter bar tell a 30 min diatribe about her vast experiences wearing a flak during TBS and the civilian eating up every word. I finally got up and told them I was a 31 with 3 afg pumps and all I got was a dressing down.(see above)

Hope I'm not getting too long and rambly

Jake, thanks for that, I think.  After some conversations with LFers, my opinion on DoD acquisitions is pretty low right now.  The Tubes thing is just another run of it.  Although the idea of eliminating the quick-disconnect stuff is good - a PC is easy to remove because it is simple/minimalist.  It is simple/minimalist to save weight.  Yet let's add weight for a quick disconnect, thus making it not light or simple/minimalist...SMH.

And the attempt to once again, do all things with one 'modular' kit, is likely to fail.  

PlasticMag, thanks for the correction.  Although I did copy/paste that from my browser, and it was the first article on the page.  But their web page in general just sucks.

Tankersteve

In Yorktown, VA.          Joined August 2008

Gov't Civilian, after retiring from active duty in 2015. 

 

'One's own open sore never smells.'  - Haitian proverb

Looks good initially. I bet that as a cost-cutting measure, they elected to skimp on integrated ventilation. I don't see any signs of it on the side-plate pockets. The laser cut MOLLE material is a good weight and cost-cutting notion, but it has a tendency to rip at the edges (look at First-Spear equipment with a-lot of use for examples of this) so a form of stress relief through rounding those edges can be accomplished. Look at Raptor Tactical's laser cut sections to get an idea, they have a dumbbell like shape, but a rectangle with rounded ends could serve the same end. Also, I've never been a fan of the buckles on the shoulders. In my experience with carriers with this feature, they interfere with the shoulder-straps on packs, and can be a pain in the ass... the clavicle. Not having to pull the carrier over your head (and pick up face paint in the neck area on the way) is nice. Everything is a bundle of compromises.

RelentlessRevolution posted:

The laser cut MOLLE material is a good weight and cost-cutting notion, but it has a tendency to rip at the edges (look at First-Spear equipment with a-lot of use for examples of this) so a form of stress relief through rounding those edges can be accomplished. 

First I've heard of this? My Strandhögg has been used daily for the past 3 years with none of this damage?

Joined: 13AUG2010        

Location: Southern Arizona 

jake0331 posted:

 

...So, I got told by my Gunny I was gonna be a gear tester. He was wrong. This event I attended was not so much testing as it was the people getting measurements of a wide spectrum of Marines to assist in development of gear. Didn't know if these people were SYSCOM or FS or what. They didn't really want constructive feedback. I got to stand in line and listen to a female butter bar tell a 30 min diatribe about her vast experiences wearing a flak during TBS and the civilian eating up every word. I finally got up and told them I was a 31 with 3 afg pumps and all I got was a dressing down...

Next time I say in a thread "it could be tested better to improve the design", THIS is what I mean. I do (as part of my design work) real ethnography, formative and summative usability evaluations, for lots of different products, and constantly have to fight against product owners who do these "Voice of the Customer" methods, demoing and thinking that's involving you. Then they make a powerpoint that will say "jake0331 and 113 others provided positive feedback"... bullshit. 

I have no input on the gear itself here, but these evaluation methods (and industry does this a lot also, it's not just DoD or even USG) are demonstrably bullshit. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

shoobe01 posted:
jake0331 posted:

 

...So, I got told by my Gunny I was gonna be a gear tester. He was wrong. This event I attended was not so much testing as it was the people getting measurements of a wide spectrum of Marines to assist in development of gear. Didn't know if these people were SYSCOM or FS or what. They didn't really want constructive feedback. I got to stand in line and listen to a female butter bar tell a 30 min diatribe about her vast experiences wearing a flak during TBS and the civilian eating up every word. I finally got up and told them I was a 31 with 3 afg pumps and all I got was a dressing down...

Next time I say in a thread "it could be tested better to improve the design", THIS is what I mean. I do (as part of my design work) real ethnography, formative and summative usability evaluations, for lots of different products, and constantly have to fight against product owners who do these "Voice of the Customer" methods, demoing and thinking that's involving you. Then they make a powerpoint that will say "jake0331 and 113 others provided positive feedback"... bullshit. 

I have no input on the gear itself here, but these evaluation methods (and industry does this a lot also, it's not just DoD or even USG) are demonstrably bullshit. 

Shoobe01, when you have time would you mind going through the proper ways to do evaluations like this?

Sure. Here? PM to you alone? 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Usablity Methods for Product Development:

This is a practice area. When I have the money for it, I've employed researchers who do this full time. Teams of researchers no less. It is a scientifically-pursued discipline, and therefore there are piles of books on it. But I'll boil it down as much as I can to buzzwords and oversimplifications because one key thing is that:

Pretty good usability methods are vastly better than well-done marketing methods.

There's probably some other name for them, but I call all the halfass research methods marketing methods as trying to get someone to give you money by calling their processes "halfassed" is not as effective as you'd think. These methods are things like:

  • Demonstrations
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups

Their downfalls are that:

  • They are prone to bias
  • They try to measure preference

There are LOTS of types of bias. If anyone simply has to make a survey, run a demo, or do a focus group, ask me and we'll talk through ways to reduce bias and gather information more effectively. Often, these sorts methods are best used not for end user feedback but gathering stakeholder information, and buyin and you should set up a workshop instead.  

 

Anyway, we're talking about product development getting information from end users not stakeholders, leaders, etc. So that's first. You have to identify: 

  • Audience – Or who the end users are. 
  • Environment – Or the context of use.  

Note that you refine all these with the research methods I'm going to outline below. Ideally you do this iteratively. Do a bit of research, develop a product concept, do a bit of research, refine the concept, etc. Everything can change during this. If 4 iterations in you find a new constituency that has different needs, you have to try to address it or bring it up and explicitly decide you won't meet their needs. 

(Design principle: you cannot meet everyone's needs, so need to focus, but you must know what the limits are and explicitly address them.)

I use both these, audience and environment, very heavily. While you have to present the same info to the leadership for politeness, CoC or political reasons, you are only really gathering info from the identified end users.  And you do it in the field. You don't gather the info in labs, conference rooms or hotel lobbies. You do it where people work, whether cubefams, maintenance centers, vehicles on the move, engine rooms of boats, or the woods under fire. Go there, and watch. 

Watch, measure, video, photograph, and take notes. Because we listen, sure. But most of all we care about:

Performance, not preference

I don't (much) care if you like my new website, app, control panel, wrench, body armor, rifle, as much as I want to know if it works well. Also, preference as measured by those marketing methods is first-impressions. People grow to love products that work well for them over time. Measuring how fast, well, and effectively something works. 

We do this because: 

People lie

Not on purpose, but they do. Why? Stupid brains, and biases again. But overall, you cannot assume that what people say is true in the ways that matter for creating new products. 

 

There are several classes of such testing, but we'll cover two-1/2 basic types here (these are mine, others break down the methods in other ways): 

Ethnography:

You do this very, very early in the process, and if you don't have enough baseline knowledge of how people really use a process or the existing tools.

You might confuse this with anthropology, as one way to do it is simply sit there in the environment, ideally impacting the end users not at all, and watch what they do. The difference is we want to know how people do tasks, and don't much care about their society. 

In practice, very few people get money to go off to sub-Sarahan Africa for 6 months and gather data (not none, but very, very few). Instead we do more intrusive and short term methods. For example, earlier this year I rode around in test cars (like the once wrapped in funny vinyl) to see what the drivers actually DID. It was not especially like what the bosses said they did, so we were able to come up with some different requirements and design a better digital product to replace the paper methods they do today. 

 

Usability Testing:

Okay, technically there are two of these, Formative which you do with prototypes, and Summative you do with functional products. But the test methods are the same. 

You let people use your product (or make them) in the most realistic environment you can. "You can" is a sliding scale of cost, safety, and plausibility. Early prototypes can be not live so you fake things. You will test armor, packs, and rifles in ranges and FTXs, not battlefields because it's hard to find usability testers who want to go to war zones and can spend time taking notes instead of ducking. 

You observe actual use and measure performance on important metrics. For things with switches and buttons and info displays (from rifles, to radios, to mobile apps) you measure:

  • Time on task - How long they take with each step, how long it takes to pick the right button
  • Completion rates – What percentage completed the task at all, how many tries it took, and if they needed assistance or to read instructions to do it the first time
  • Accuracy – Did they do it right? Did they understand the info properly or misread/misunderstand what they read? 

For armor, you'd (I guess... not doing this) test if they put it on right (as wrong is bad) without assistance, over time, in various environments. If they can get it off. If they can do other tasks (go prone, get out of vehicles, don and doff packs) at the same speed as the baseline armor.

Comfort and fatigue could also be measured, and gets into complex routines like testing all day, or on repeated days to see if performance changes over time as people become familiar with it or (risk) learn to use in unexpected ways. 

Opinion:

Okay, we do gather opinion as well. At the end of each test I like to make the participants (individually) fill out a SUS. The System Usability Scale  http://www.measuringu.com/sus.php is a specific set of questions, asked in a specific way, that helps to eliminate bias and gives a single number that can be applied to any product to tell if people find it basically acceptable so will try to use it again, 

It's useful partly as you can do it with each test and prove to your leadership you are improving with each iteration. 

 

I have an article on field methods here: https://www.uxmatters.com/mt/a...lean-ethnography.php

 

You can do this!

I learned it, and do it as a side job. You can too! Anyone who does this sort of work and wants to do it it better can PM me and I'll secretly help you out as much as I can remotely, without knowing about your secret project. 

If your org is interested and has budget, I also have a company to do the work, or train you all in how to do it. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

This might be a dumb question, but I'm curious.

If the the Marine Corps wants to develop a new plate carrier and armor plates, why wouldn't they announce an RFP like the DoD does for other projects? Rather than try to develop an improved plate carrier on their own.

SEMPER FIDELIS

I was going to ask the same thing. Can they REALLY not find an off the shelf, currently available piece of webbing and nylon that holds armor and Marines can attach pouches and shit to? I mean... really? There must be over 200 unique designs out there at least, and then even more if paying attention to minor differences. Not one single one of those is close enough to accomplish our mission? 

Get. The. Fuck. Out.   Blowing money for the sake of money and the end product will be worse than something any Lance Coolie could order from SKD for $250 and have in his dirty little dickbeaters less than a week later. 

 

 

 

 

Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:  MAINE

When I participated in the user review survey around 2013, they were looking to hear what was important to users.  As a guy with LAV experience, they wanted to know what was good and bad about the scaleable PC we had at the time.

One element they were looking at was building a new SPC that had a very slick base layer like the old CVC armor vests that armor guys used to wear. 

If you're inside an armor shell, projectiles to your torso are not your problem.  So they wanted to learn what donning and doffing might look like if we had to dismount and toss on a plate carrier over the base layer.

As for the Corps' peculiar requirements for form fit and function, it has to be concerned with neutral or positive buoyancy, emergency release, bulk, weight, etc.

We used to all use the same flak vest back in the day and we could probably get to a joint requirement, but I think the Corps looks back to he utter disaster of the gray ACU, and says, "No thanks, but we'll figure this out on our own."

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

For all the talk of how the Marines used to get the Army's hand-me-downs, GWOT sure turned things around for them. 

The USMC are far better equipped on an individual basis- they were rocking plate carriers in Afghanistan when we were doing our Michelin Man impersonations, pouches made by Eagle vs SDS crap, issuing dump pouches (me and my guys all rock surplus USMC ones we got off ebay), not to mention having a camo that actually worked. Don't even get me started on our MOLLE ruck...

The only things we had better than the Jarheads was M4's and ACH's, and looks like the crayon eaters are all caught up. In fact they might be ahead with the IAR and widespread adoption of the ECH - a helmet that can stop rifle rounds? Why WOULDN'T the Army want every grunt rocking one?

That being said, we all know the reason they like to design their own clusterfucks vs COTS is OERs (or whatever the USMC uses for OERs). Officers need more bullet points for their next promotion. Who cares if that means grunts will get substandard overpriced shit in 2-3 more years? They love to talk about how it was developed and tested by troops, when jake0331's experience was the extent of their "testing". Remember when the Army tested plate carriers? The troops picked the Eagle variant, yet the Army went with the KDH abortion which came in LAST place. What's the point of testing anything if you'll just ignore the results? 

There's a reason I use my own kit. 

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

kaltesherz posted:

For all the talk of how the Marines used to get the Army's hand-me-downs, GWOT sure turned things around for them. 

The USMC are far better equipped on an individual basis- they were rocking plate carriers in Afghanistan when we were doing our Michelin Man impersonations, pouches made by Eagle vs SDS crap, issuing dump pouches (me and my guys all rock surplus USMC ones we got off ebay), not to mention having a camo that actually worked. Don't even get me started on our MOLLE ruck...

The only things we had better than the Jarheads was M4's and ACH's, and looks like the crayon eaters are all caught up. In fact they might be ahead with the IAR and widespread adoption of the ECH - a helmet that can stop rifle rounds? Why WOULDN'T the Army want every grunt rocking one?

That being said, we all know the reason they like to design their own clusterfucks vs COTS is OERs (or whatever the USMC uses for OERs). Officers need more bullet points for their next promotion. Who cares if that means grunts will get substandard overpriced shit in 2-3 more years? They love to talk about how it was developed and tested by troops, when jake0331's experience was the extent of their "testing". Remember when the Army tested plate carriers? The troops picked the Eagle variant, yet the Army went with the KDH abortion which came in LAST place. What's the point of testing anything if you'll just ignore the results? 

There's a reason I use my own kit. 

You guys can be exceptionally cynical at times...

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Flora “Mackie” Jordan’s path to becoming an award-winning body armor engineer for the Infantry Combat Equipment team at Marine Corps Systems Command happened by chance.

“It was kind of accidental, but serendipitous,” said Jordan of her introduction to MCSC. “After graduating from college, I applied to the Naval Acquisition Development Program, and they can place you at any one of over 100 locations. I think it was just pure luck that [MCSC] happened to be looking for a body armor engineer.”

After graduating from McGill University in 2011 with a degree in civil engineering and minor in environmental engineering, Jordan had to choose between various job prospects. Ultimately, Jordan—a young woman whose first brush with the military was as a nuclear engineering intern with the Navy—chose to go with the Marines.

“I was torn between my technical passion—environmental engineering—and patriotism and wanting to give back to those who give so much to this country,” Jordan said. “This job just sounded so cool and unlike anything I’ve ever done or thought I could ever do. It sounded like a challenge and was something I just couldn’t turn down.”

In her relatively short tenure at MCSC—Jordan recently celebrated her five-year work anniversary at the command—the 28-year-old has led the team that introduced a lightweight body armor system that is just as effective as, but 45 percent lighter than, the body armor Marines currently use.

The research, data collection and testing period leading up to the system’s final iteration was a lengthy one, and Jordan sometimes collected data in unconventional—albeit effective—ways. In order to help fine-tune the requirements, Jordan found herself—dressed in full gear—marching alongside Marines during a field exercise in the southern Californian desert.

“I was in body armor the whole time, I was eating MREs, we were sleeping in tents,” Jordan said of the week-long exercise. “It was a very miserable experience, but it really gave me an understanding of how Marines use the gear, what the issues are, and helped me gather the data we really needed.”

Data collection sessions like these helped Jordan and her team identify specific issues Marines face while wearing body armor. It also helped to put themselves in a Marine’s frame of mind when coming up with solutions to their feedback.

After several iterations, Jordan and her team developed a modular body armor system that was lightweight and more comfortable, gave Marines better mobility, and could be customized to fit Marines of every size and body type. Jordan and her team also made sure the new body armor was compatible with other fielded equipment, like the USMC pack system.

“Marines are at the center of everything we do,” said Jordan. “From a design standpoint, we took into account a lot of human factors and how Marines wear it and move with it on. We looked at its compatibility with packs when Marines are hiking, or how well it holds up to different environmental conditions—from flames to extreme cold to maritime.”

Jordan and her team’s hard work did not go unnoticed. Jordan was recently awarded the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America “Promising Innovations Medal” from the Partnership for Public Service for her work on lightweight body armor. Also known as “the Sammies,” the annual awards recognize federal employees who are responsible for noteworthy and inspiring accomplishments, highlighting excellence in the federal workforce.

“When the request for Sammies nominations came out, one person jumped out in my mind, and that was Mackie,” said Nick Pierce, team lead for the individual armor team at MCSC who nominated Jordan for the award. “Mackie’s impressive with the speed at which she moves—she stays focused on making positive changes that would impact Marines the most. Mackie really values the direct feedback she gets from Marines. She’s also a big player within the team and will help with anything.”

In addition to being this year’s youngest honoree, Jordan is also the first civilian Marine to ever win a Sammie in the award’s 16-year history.

In her off time, Jordan is currently pursuing her Masters in Engineering Management at George Washington University. She also regularly volunteers at Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics events to “let kids know what opportunities are out there and help them understand their capabilities better.” Jordan relishes in the idea of “changing the world for good, or making an impact in the world.”

At MCSC, Jordan says the most rewarding thing about her job is knowing how her work impacts Marines in a positive way.

“Honestly, working with Marines, getting a chance to hear what they have to say and trying to make a difference that makes their lives a little easier—whether it’s by making their body armor lighter, or making it slightly more comfortable so it’s not causing them pain, or even just giving them something that they’re looking for in a system—that’s the biggest reward,” she said.j

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

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