INVISTA CORDURA® Fabrics for Defense IDEX 2017

February 9, 2017

From Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India, INVISTA CORDURA® Fabric known as a leading fabric brand for militaries across the globe will show latest fabrics for military gear and apparel at IDEX 2017. IDEX is the international defense exhibition and conference for unmanned systems and technologies and takes place February 19 to 23, 2017, within the Abu Dhabi national exhibition center, in UAE.idex-2017

New hardwearing and versatile soldier systems fabric technologies will be displayed at the CORDURA® Fabric  booth in Hall 7, booth A02 and include:

  •  Fabrics featuring the new patent-pending CORDURA® Fabric qualifying INVISTA T420HT fiber
  • Solution Dyed Nylon (SDN) technologies with built-in NIR/SWIR reflectance capabilities
  • FR (flame retardant)-coated CORDURA® Fabric polyamides for protective vests
  • lightweight comfort CORDURA® Fabric Nyco Tactical uniform fabric

11-ocp-photo-courtesy-of-cordura-brand

First in a suite of many product improvements for 2017 and targeting next generation durable uniform fabrics, the new T420HT is a state-of-the-art, patent-pending high tenacity staple fibre. For the complete details please see http://www.technicaltextile.net/news/cordura-to-show-fabrics-for-defence-at-idex-2017-expo-204001.html

From the CORDURA® Fabric website at http://www.cordura.com the company for nearly 50 years, been driving military textile innovation with performance solutions featured in both fabrics and webbings used extensively in combat gear, such as CORDURA® Fabric SDN yarn technology. These solutions are suitable for use in load carriage equipment, boots, body armor covers, knee/elbow pads, and other similar tactical gear.  http://www.cordura.com/en/press-releases/news_cordura_announces_durable_fiber_breakthrough.html

US Defense Bill to Supports Made in USA

February 9, 2017

Fabric rolls IDEX.jpgFrom the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO),which represents domestic textile manufacturers, the Senate’s 92-7 vote to pass Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) according to NCTO President & CEO Auggie Tantillo is “a good bill.”  Tantillo says of the bill “It supports American troops, strengthens our national security, and includes many provisions important to the US textile industry.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) sourced roughly $1.5 billion (USD) in textiles and clothing in 2016. Textiles fall under the buy-American procurement provision known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a) requires the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100% United States content and labor.

berry-amendment-berry-compliant-bootsThe FY 2017 NDAA conference report reflects several other positive outcomes for the US based textiles industry. (1) no increase to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). Procurements in excess of the SAT require compliance with the Berry Amendment. The SAT level is $ 150,000. If the SAT threshold were increased, contracts might be awarded to international bidders and a lose for US industry. (2) the athletic footwear voucher program that has been in place for decades ended. Now the works begins to ensure all athletic footwear purchased by DoD is Berry-compliant. (3) DoD and the State Department procurement officials have been directed to provide key congressional defense and foreign relations committees updates on how each department is making efforts to ensure US manufacturers are aware of procurement opportunities relating equipping foreign security forces. Information source: http://www.ncto.org

For the complete details please visit http://www.innovationintextiles.com/industry-talk/new-us-defence-bill-to-support-made-in-usa-products/utm_content=47764882&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#sthash.8yKW5WZO.dpuf

For Fifty Years

February 7, 2017

idex-navexAttending the IDEX 2017 UAE military trade show and conference?  If so please make time to visit us in Hall 7 and booth A02. Until then the latest press release is available at the IDEX website http://www.idexuae.ae/exhibitors/invista?azletter=I the highlighting INVISTA and the CORDURA® brand.

pack“For fifty years the CORDURA® brand has been innovating durable and reliable fabrics for military gear using nylon 6,6 fiber technologies. Technologically advanced and extremely durable, CORDURA® fabrics stand up to the rigorous physical demands of the military life as well as provide protection from the elements. CORDURA® fabrics cover nearly everything in a soldier’s arsenal where enhanced durability is required. The fabrics are designed to deliver tensile strength, tear strength and abrasion resistance in footwear, apparel and packs to maximize servicemen’s survivability, mobility, combat effectiveness and field quality of life.”

CORDURA Patch

Photo Credit by Jonathan Long

The CORDURA® brand portfolio features hardwearing and versatile fabric technologies designed to be the soldier’s first line of defense in ballistic vests, boots, parachute containers, recon packs, hydration systems, knee pads and more.

http://www.cordura.com

Address

INVISTA Textiles UK Ltd
Ermin Street
Gloucester
GL3 4HP
United Kingdom

Sprinkle some water on your CAB . . . maybe it will grow into a CIB!

February 2, 2017

So said my endearing Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) with a huge grin, uponcib my pinning on my Combat Action Badge (CAB) in 2005 after my first Iraq deployment. So why the humor (other than standard NCO busting out an officer)? The CAB is a relatively new award initiated in 2001 where the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) has a much older lineage back to 1943 when it was initially referred to as the Combat Assault Badge. The name was changed that year to the CIB and stars added to indicate award of the badge in separate wars.

Award of the CAB is not limited by branch or military occupational specialty like the CIB; however, to receive the CAB, a Soldier must not be assigned or attached to a unit that would qualify the Soldier for the CIB – meaning I think that a soldier should not have both a CIB and a CAB?  “September 18, 2001, is the effective date for the new award, when President Bush signed Senate Joint Resolution 23, authorizing the use of military force against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

cab-miniThe CAB, whose design features both a bayonet and grenade, may be awarded to any Soldier performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized, who is personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement, according to the specific eligibility requirements.

The requirements are laid out in a Department of the Army letter published on June 3 which lays out the documentation required to receive the CAB badge. This includes eyewitness detailed description of the engagement, the enemy forces, and the nature and consequences of the engagement.  This same letter also discusses changes to the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Combat Medic Badge. HQDA Ltr 600-05-1 and (See AR 670-1). The CAB is categorized as a Group 1 badge.

The CIB has a bar which is blue (color associated with the Infantry branch). The musket is adapted from the Infantry insignia of branch and represents the first official U.S. rifle (well really a musket – the 1795 model Springfield Arsenal musket). It was adopted as the official Infantry branch insignia in 1924. The oak symbolizes steadfastness, strength and loyalty.

Military Actions covered by the CIB: World War II:   Dec 7, 1941 – Sept 3, 1945 Korean afghan-expWar:   Jun 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953 Laos:   April 19, 1961 – Oct 6, 1962 Vietnam:   March 1, 1961 – March 29, 1973 Dominican Republic:   April 28, 1965 – Sept 1, 1966 Korea DMZ:   Jan 4, 1969 – but before Mar 31, 1994 El Salvador:   Jan 1, 1981 – Feb 1, 1992 Grenada:   Oct 23, 1983 – Nov 21, 1983 Panama:   Dec 20, 1989 – Jan 31, 1990 Persian Gulf War:   Jan 17, 1991 – April 11, 1991 Somalia:   June 5, 1993 – March 31,1994 Kosvo: Afghanistan: Iraq: The complete criteria for each area and inclusive dates are listed in Army Regulation 600-8-22.

iraq-expSo there is a little well intentioned ribbing between the “little CAB” who would and the “mighty CIB” but at the end of the day, both represent that the individual wearing the badge answered the call to defend our country when needed and moved toward the sound of the guns in the most demanding circumstances.

(shown Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Executive Order13363 on November 29, 2004 and Iraq Campaign Medal created by Executive Order 13363 on 29 November 2004)

 

 

What . . . Army Staff Identification Badge ?

February 2, 2017

What exactly is that green looking badge worn by many working in the Pentagon? The badge is called Army Staff Identification Badge (ASIB) and awarded to those who are assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Army and the Army Staff at Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA).headquarters_us_army_ssi

While technically neither an award nor a decoration, the badge is a distinguishing emblem of service (although each person must prepare a recommendation for award of the badge and it is reflected in one’s official file).

Each staff member is issued the ASIB temporarily, once a member has demonstrated outstanding performance of duty and meeting all eligibility requirements the badge can be awarded permanent after one complete year (365 days cumulative) and receive a certificate authorizing permanent wear of the badge.

As background, General Douglas MacArthur proposed an Army General Staff Badge in 1931, but it was not until 1933 that the United States War Department authorized it. The badge has remained unchanged in appearance since it was first created, however, the name was changed in 1982 from the Army General Staff Identification Badge to the Army Staff Identification Badge..

cstc-afghanistan-patchOn the United States Army uniform, the Army Staff Identification Badge is worn centered on the right breast pocket. However, since the uniform regulations have changed to allow the wear of a “combat patch” on the Class A uniform the ALARACT 203/2010 wear guidance also says the ASIB is worn on the left breast pocket when worn in conjunction with a CSIB (Combat Service Identification Badge) more commonly known as a combat patch.

For example, one of my personal patches from 2008 and 2009 is the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) is shown. CSTC-A located in Kabul Afghanistan was formed out of the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan and is in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Future Soldier Technology Conference

January 22, 2017
cotton-polymer-yarn-detail-v2

From polymer to finished product

repost from SMi announcing that BlackBox Biometrics, Invista textiles (Cordura brand fabrics), Revision Military, Marom-Dolphin, Sea Systems Engineering, Ultra Electronics and Harris Corporation are key soonsors.

March attendees can expect and interactive format where “No Attendees only participants”. Unlike other events, Future Soldier Technology is marketed around a combination of panel discussions and focused discussion groups, which are run by two chairmen – experts in soldier Technology.

As the only conference in Europe solely dedicated to enhancing soldier modernisation programmes this year, the conference will explore the greatest challenges and next generation solutions that are enabling infantry to conduct operations in today’s and tomorrow’s battlefields.

Key topics include: lightening the load and analysis of space for components, power and energy, body armour and night vision, communications and common integrated architecture.

Expert speakers for 2017 include senior representatives from: British Army, Infantry Trials and Development Unit, United States Marine Corps, US Army Northern Warfare Training Center, Canadian Forces, UK MoD, PEO Soldier, DSTL, United States Marine Corps, Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency, T N O Human Factors Research Institute, Thales, Rheinmetall Electronics and many more.

There will also be two post-conference workshops on: ‘How to Do Business with the British Army for Soldier Modernisation’ and ‘Black Swans and Soldier Programme Management: A Look inside the US Army Technology and Equipment Acquisitions from Capability Setting To Procurement’.

For those interested in attending Future Soldier Technology 2017, register online by 31st January to receive a £100 discount.

Future Soldier Technology 2017, 13th and 14th March 2017, London, United Kingdom

INVISTA CORDURA® Fabric Participates in Military Conferences 2017

January 9, 2017

idex-2017ABU DHABI — IDEX Conference 2017, part of the International Defense Exhibition & Conference (IDEX 2017) and Naval Defense Exhibition (NAVDEX 2017), draws participation of leading security and defense decision makers as well as military program managers from across the world.

Themed Disrupting Innovation in Defense and Security , the conference will be held ahead of IDEX and NAVDEX 2017 at the headquarters of the National Archives in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 18.  The http://saudigazette.com.sa/ reports that this conference will include three keynote sessions:

  1. Disruptive Emerging Technology and Innovation: A New Military Paradigm,
  2. The Next Big Leap in Cyber Defense,
  3. Defense and Security Control/Mitigate Multiple Disruptions.

Register ahead to participate in the conference sessions under the following link: https://secure10.eventadv.com/IDEX/registration/ConferenceReg.aspx?eventid=22fiber-to-yarn-to-fabric-and-product

Walking Meditation for the 21st Century

December 13, 2016

The labyrinth often based on a spiral is known to be a design feature likely 4,000 years old. This art form can be found in many cultures around the world such as India, France, Egypt, Scandinavia, Crete, Samaria, America, the British Isles, and Italy, and in all cases, they were built to share a common celtic-spiraltheme of pilgrimage and spiritual reward. Most are created as a spiral path leading to a central point and then back out again. For instance one of the oldest depictions of a Celtic Spiral that could have served as inspiration is found in a passage tomb Near Kells  Meath, Ireland.  Here we can see a series of three spirals.

Says Avia Venefica, “This is where labyrinths are often confused with mazes. Big difference.  Mazes are designed to challenge intellect and strategic skills.  Whereas the labyrinth is an exercise in soul development.”

wakehurst-labyrinthThe spiral, unlike that pesky maze, can be found in nature in a shell, a pine cone or even in the rose blossom are reflected in a labyrinth as a curving line around a central point. This might mean movement, growth, change or providing a continuously shifting perspective that can be inspiring and sometimes life renewing. (1)  Its a nice idea that walking a labyrinth is a metaphor for life -the path shifts in unexpected ways, sometimes away from your goal, but ultimately leading you to the center. Says a Labyrinth Facilitator; Chris Beam, “it is a powerful meditation tool, helping to quiet the mind and allowing time of reflection.”

maze

In contrast, passing through a maze – one in which the path divides repeatedly and there is a risk of becoming disoriented and lost – is a much more individual and potentially threatening exercise. It symbolizes the way in which the mind can easily become confused and sidetracked. In the maze, unlike the labyrinth, we are faced by many choices with outcomes that are uncertain (2).

So what path are we on in today’s world?  I would like to think we are on a pre-planned “labyrinth” path where even though twisting and turning directions seem confusing, there is some set celtic-spiral-ix-by-larkin-jean-van-horndestination or ending point in store.  However, I think more often that life in the over informed, technology imbued, speed of light 21st century is more like the maze mentioned earlier – our path constantly challenges us to evaluate progress and decide to turn left or right, back up or move ahead.

Maybe the group DEVO had it right and our philosophy should be to just to “Shape it up, Get straight, Go forward, Move ahead, Try to detect it, It’s not too late to whip it, Whip it good.”

slide_home_06

 

(1) http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/labyrinths.htm

(2) http://www.wolindia.com/2011/12/symbols-mazes-and-labyrinths.html

Mechanisms of Fabric Failure

December 5, 2016
img_2563

Photo Jonathan Long

Fabric fibers that wear out fast, make garments that fail faster.  Working within the Protective Products and Equipment (PPE) industry, we are inundated with data, test procedures (whether ISO or ASTM or AATCC), and if honest, scratch our heads to understand how data and test procedures can be used to predict future performance. To add complexity, in many cases the ISO and ATSM test methods do not directly correlate because the test apparatus are different.

 

We all know humans are good at measuring things and textile engineers are no exception and excel in this area! If we can develop a scientific test to measure how one type of fiber or fabric performs to another; we are happy. For instance, we are pretty good at measuring several independent elements of textile performance one being fiber tensile strength. We then can compare the results from one fiber to another and claim victorious insight. However in looking at staple fibers which are blended for better performance

nylon-staple-fiber

Photo Jonathan Long

like those found in military uniforms, there are a couple of things that impact strength. Once we compound fibers with other natural or synthetic fibers during the spinning process strength changes. One fiber’s performance shouldn’t be the final determination of how that yarn will perform or how that fabric once woven will perform. However, tensile strength is important (photo NYLON Fiber)

 

To measure tensile strength, common test methods used in the Technical Military Fabrics worlds you find are ASTM D5034-09(2013) Standard Test Method for Breaking Strength and Elongation of Textile Fabrics (Grab) or Test Method D3822 Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties of Single Textile Fibers. While these tests are great for comparing fibers and fabrics I am not sure they really tell the whole performance story. We rely on tests to predict which fabric will perform better in a military environment where fabric failure from rips and tears in high abrasion areas such as the knees, elbows, and seat are common. Tensile strength alone may not answer that question but is the most common place to start.

fiber-micronWhat we do know about tensile strength (or think w do) is that its related to “abrasion resistance” (stated as the number of cycles on a machine, using a technique to produce abrasion) and “durability” (here defined as the ability to withstand deterioration or wearing out a garment fabric in use which includes the effects of abrasion) (1). Higher tensile strength is often thought to indicate better abrasion and durability performance.

In addition to tensile strength we want to measure abrasion and there are three dominant tests.

  1. Martindale Abrasion (ASTM D4966) This test method covers the determination of the martindale-testing-credit-association-contract-textilesabrasion resistance of textile fabrics abraded against crossbred, worsted wool fabric. Fabric samples to be mounted flat and rubbed in an enlarging elliptical T shape using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abrading material. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when there is an appreciable change in shade or appearance.
  2. Tabor Abrasion (ASTM D4060) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion resistance of organic coatings to abrasion produced by the Tabor Abrader on coatings applied to a plane, rigid surface, such as a metal panel.
  3. Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion wyzenbeek-test-machine-credit-association-contract-textilesresistance of woven textile fabrics using oscillatory cylinder tester. The Wyzenbeek testing process requires samples of the test fabric to be pulled taut in a frame and held stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft directions are then rubbed back and forth using an ACT approved #10 cotton duck fabric as the abradant. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when appreciable wear is reached.

Note to product developers and evaluation teams – both test methods are limited to measuring flat abrasion resistance of a textile. Soldiers are fully three dimensional so these tests don’t consider edge abrasion or other types of surface wear that may occur in soldier uniform applications.

Fibers have different tensile strength but they also have different elongation characteristics. When considering fiber properties, fiber tenacity should not be viewed in isolation. Fiber elongation is at least as important –  why?  If a fiber cant stretch and recover somewhat, that fiber will break sooner than one that has elongation. Elongation is specified as a percentage of the starting length. The elastic elongation is important since textile products without elasticity would hardly be useable. They must be able to deform and return to shape (2).

fiber-elongation

Photo INTECH

My thoughts about selecting the optimal fabrics and fiber for military technical fabrics are that we should focus more on the mechanisms of failure. How does a fabric fail? I think we can rightly see that a fiber’s tensile strength is critical but so is a fabrics resistance to abrasion – maybe these two measurements can tell us which fabrics are likely to be the most “durable.”

How does failure actually happen? Its related to how a yarn and fabric’s structure is

fibre-rupture-abdullah-et-al-2006

Photo Abdullah 2006

modified in use. Lets face it – a fabric that is never used will last a long, long time so its something in use that wears a fabric out. In terms of wear mechanism in textiles, abrasion first modifies the fabric surface and then affects the internal structure of the fabric, damaging it (Manich et.al, 2001; Kaloğlu et al., 2003). Good abrasion resistance depends more on a high energy of rupture than on high tenacity at break. Abrasion is not influenced so much by the energy absorbed in the first deforming process (total energy of rupture), as by the activity absorbed during repeated deformation. This activity is manifested in the “elastic energy” or the “recoverable portion” of the total energy. Thus, to prevent abrasion damage, the material must be capable of absorbing energy and releasing that energy upon the removal of load (3).

The mechanical properties and dimensions of the fibers are important for abrasion. Fiber type, fiber fineness and fiber length are the main parameters that affect abrasion. Fibers with high elongation, elastic recovery and work of rupture have a good ability to withstand repeated distortion; so a good degree of abrasion resistance is achieved. Nylon is generally considered to have the best abrasion resistance, followed by polyester, polypropylene (Hu, 2008) (4).

cotton-polymer-yarn-detail-v2

Photo Jonathan Long

 

Something to think about is what is the optimal mix between fiber tensile strength and elongation and understanding how that mix performs during abrasion testing. If we find that higher tensile strength and greater elongation results in a more abrasion resistant fabric then we can add another test method to our toolbox to provide insight in failure prediction.  Fabrics with lower yarn tensile strength and lower fiber elongation should result in poorer abrasion testing and in turn wear out faster in wear and use. Lets test it and see!   (Photo natural cotton, key nylon intermediates, hexamethylene diamine (HMD) and adipic acid, Nylon Cotton Yarn and fabric)

 

(1) http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/31704/ Abdullah et al., 006 Analysis_of_abrasion_characteristics_in_textiles.pdf

(2) http://www.definetextile.com/2013/04/fiber-elongation.html

(3) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

(4) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

What do Chiquita bananas and Hurricane Relief have in common?

November 30, 2016

What do Chiquita bananas and Hurricane Relief have in common? hondurasWell a lot actually but its a story that isn’t often told.  If you didn’t know it bananas, are grown at farms in tropical regions of the world. The banana industry in the United States gets its bananas from tropical regions like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. This supply chain started back in 1899 when American railroad companies operating in South and Central America merged with the Boston Fruit Company to create the United Fruit Company. In the 1920s, the honduras-4United Fruit Company established a powerful organization in Honduras exporting to and gaining the dominant market position in the United States.  The company cleared and planted lands for bananas developing extensive road, railroad and port facilities. The company also built housing and schools for the children of employees, hospitals, and research laboratories.  It could be said that many of these roads and the only deep water ocean port  in Central America form the basic transportation network in Honduras today.

honduras-personal-5

Photo Jonathan Long

 

In our post 9/11 world many have never heard of the US Military operations called “New Horizons.” This is an engineering and medical exercise to benefit the people of Central America and the Caribbean. During these missions, military engineering teams deploy from the United States to build

 

honduras-5

Photo National Weather

On now to hurricanes. Bananas aren’t the only things that grow in the tropic areas – hurricanes do too. One hurricane in particular, Hurricane Mitch, was the most powerful and destructive hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. The Category 5 Hurricane (SSHS) killed more than 11,000 people and some estimates put the figure as high as 18,000, making Mitch the deadliest storm in the Western Hemisphere since the Great Hurricane of 1790 (1). Hurricane Mitch delivered 180 mph winds while hovering over Honduras for more than a week and sustained winds of 285 km/h (178 mph) for 15 hours.

honduras-personal-6

Photo Jonathan Long

While we in Panama watched with dread, there was little anyone could do while the storm raged. We had been planning for follow on construction operations in Honduras after the 1997 exercise but now all schedules were dramatically accelerated. Our mission changed from national assistance for Honduras to humanitarian assistance.  From my point of view, this change in mission occurred naturally and was very smooth. Maybe this change seemed so smooth because we had just completed the gigantic “relief in place” after a yearlong operation in Bosnia. In 1996 we moved from a European based Implementation Force (IFOR) of 60,000 (which I was part of), to a Stabilization Force (SFOR) of about 30,000 (2). This was a classic “relief in place” conducted on a huge scale but others may have a different view. Little did we know at that time that conducting RIP/TOA (relief in place / transfer of authority) would become so common place during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

honduras-personal-3

Photo Jonathan Long

Immediately after the hurricane, the U.S. responded with over $300 million in humanitarian assistance, providing food, medicine, emergency shelter, and agricultural assistance through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. military, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and civilian relief workers – again another example of joint operations similar to what we had just conducted in Bosnia and a foreshadow of Iraq and Afghanistan operations. My job was to provide the on the ground, contracting assistance for all construction logistical support in Honduras. Following Hurricane Mitch 5,300 military personnel were deployed to Central America, representing all four armed services and reserve components – again Joint Operations.

 

So what did we do, what does this have to do with bananas and why is the US Military so

honduras-personal-12

Photo Jonathan Long

successful at responding to calls for international help?  I think our success results from our adage “train like you fight” meaning we don’t have one standard for training and expect some other outcome when its “go time.” First things first, we had to get the personnel and their equipment from the United States into Honduras – no easy task since the ports had sustained damage and one port was closed unable to receive the roll-on/roll-off ships. These LMSRs are huge capable of cargo-carrying capacity of more than 300,000 square feet. The Port of Cortes was our only reception point.

 

The operation was little different than similar missions I had conducted while rail loading M1 Tanks in Korea for Team Spirit or moving a Signal Battalion of soldiers and equipment from one end of Germany to another. However, unlike Korea and Germany, there were no established logistics elements at the embarkation point, along the route or at the destination. All that support would need contracting. We contracted for food, contracted for living quarters, contracted for line haul transportation for heavy equipment, contracted for cleaning services, and contracted for building materials.  The key was synchronizing all these contracts so they were delivered or performed at the right place and at the right time.  No less was acceptable – but it was difficult to do while located in Panama.

honduras-personal-8

Photo Jonathan Long

Within days after the flood waters had receded from the airport in San Pedro Sula and the airlines partially resumed flights, I caught a flight to Belize (which was accepting commercial aircraft) and then a twin-engine prop plane into Honduras. Luckily I had provided very similar logistical contract support the previous year in Honduras, I knew the general layout of the area and many of the contractors located in the vicinity. When I arrived at the airport I could see the discolored and muddied height of the flood waters reaching a height of about 9 feet but it was the mud that caused the runway closure. The destruction caused by the storm was immediately evident and devastating to roads, bridges, and homes.

 

What made the most dramatic impression on me were the blue tarps strung in the mediums of the roads providing temporary shelter to families whose homes were lost to the storm. It was dramatic but a completely different disaster

honduras-personal-7

Photo Jonathan Long

environment than that I had just experienced in Bosnia where homes; while still standing, were pock marketed with bullet holes, partially burned and in many cases walls pierced open by tank rounds. In both cases the people were living in elemental conditions without electricity, running water, heating or cooling or toilets. In both cases, the people were now refugees in their own country. Whether from either ethic warfare or natural disaster both were equally cruel, especially on the kids.

 

honduras-personal-1

Photo Jonathan Long

Back to bananas. Here is where the infrastructure work developed by the United Fruit Company in the 1920’s came into play – most if not all the routes we used to move personnel and equipment around Honduras were built on the road networks developed to support the banana export business. That was my first order of business before I could develop the contracting support needed, I had to locate the planned base camps and construction sites so I would know where contracted services and supplies would be delivered.

In some cases, because of the preplanned development projects, these camps were in remote locations and in some cases, they were

honduras-3

Photo Jonathan Long

not. Regardless of location, I travelled to each work site to make sure required sand, gravel, cement and concrete could be delivered by commercial transport. That is not to say these roads were in great shape to start with but believe me when I say they were worse after the hurricane.  In some cases, we did contract for private airfields to enable the delivery of supplies and personnel by US Aviation, specifically in the direction from San Pedro Sula to Yoro.

 

Once the materials were on site and the contracted services began performance, the US Military took over and started to work. We worked with and trained Contracting Officer Representatives (COR) to manager the performance and ensure that we received the 981124-F-2167C-008quality of materials and supplies that we required. During this time, military personnel are credited with rescuing more than 1,000 people trapped by flood waters providing medical care and immunizations to over 35,000 people. Our construction battalions cleared major roads (some as old as the 1920’s) and bypasses, as well as erecting prefabricated bridges (Bailey Bridges). Our military personnel rebuilt medical clinics and schools, and provided communities with safe drinking water by building wells. Military aircraft, including 53 helicopters were deployed throughout the region to assist distribution delivering more than 3.2 million pounds of food and more than 500,000 gallons of water. It is reported that the military transported to the region almost 8 million pounds of food, clothing, medicine and relief items donated by American citizens (3).

President Clinton called the U.S. Southern Command NEW HORIZONS response to Hurricane Mitch “the largest humanitarian assistance mission since the Berlin Airlift.” Honestly at the end of each long day it wasn’t about a Presidential proclamation, or about the danger and excitement of running historic roads or even about traveling through miles and miles of epic date palm and banana plantations; it was about choosing to be in a position where we know we helping individuals make their world and ours a better place. So whether we used roads built for the banana business or not, whether operating in the Korea or Bosnian winter, or the heat of Iraq or Afghanistan – and even in hurricane drenched Honduras, that’s what’s in common – working to make the world a better place.

 

 

(1) http://www.history.com/topics/hurricane-mitch

(2) https://www.defensie.nl/binaries/defence/documents/reports/2009/05/

(3) https://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/New/centralam/fsheet1.html