THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

A design squad goes on a vital mission

Civilians behind military gear, uniforms give their work a reality check

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / November 21, 2011

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The men and women who clambered out of the Blackhawk helicopters at Fort Devens looked nothing like soldiers, because they weren’t. But on a warm late-October day, about 40 Q of them were getting a taste of the military life, and learning things that might keep real service members alive. The visitors were civilian employees of the US Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick. They design vital systems for service members in every branch of the armed forces, including the uniforms they wear , the equipment they carry and the rations they eat. But s it’s hard for civilians to understand how their design choices can affect the life of a soldier. So they’ve volunteered to become soldiers, if only for a day.

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