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Competent At Incompetence

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In 1968 I became aware of the US Army Research and Development Center, (USARDC) Natick, MA. I was at the time the sales director for the first company that ever produced the continuous filament fiberfill for Celanese; it was named Polarguard. We introduced the product to Natick and they actually embraced it at the time. I had been doing experimental work laminating fiberfills and found the Polarguard to work exceptionally well. Actually of all the fiberfill battings I laminated the only one to work was the Polarguard. I presented these findings to Natick and the only area they chose to experiment with it was for glove linings. There it proved to work better than all other insulated linings; and to this day that is as far as they have gone. Since they were looking at the Polarguard for insulation in sleeping bags, I presented to them the idea of laminating the Polarguard for all of the reasons I use it (Lamilite) today. This idea fell on deaf ears; as it has to this day.

The Army’s USARDC has been working (?) on developing a new sleeping bag or system since 1968 without ever having achieved the objective. Imagine working on making a sleeping bag for 40 years and still not succeeding? This is what I call “competent incompetence”! I have known all of the people who have been involved in this project dating from 1968 until this very moment they have not had, and do not now have any background of the knowledge required to make a sleeping bag that will perform for any specific temperature condition.They, those whom we employ working in the textile area of USARDC are very competent at not developing a sleeping bag that will perform as they would like it too; therefore demonstrating their incompetence. The question that begs to be asked is why when there is at least one maker of sleeping bags whose bags do in fact perform in all of the temperature conditions they are rated for they don’t try them?

In 1993 when I created my version of a two bag system (other companies had made them before me) for the Marine Corps I did not know how well it would perform. With all of the basic knowledge I had at the time I still did not know how well the product would perform until it was used in the field by humans not tested on copper manikins. What I know today is a very simple fact of life with respect to my two bag systems; THEY HAVE NEVER FAILED! That is correct, I have never heard from any one that has any of my FTRSS combinations that have failed to perform at the temperature that I have applied to them. I do know from personal experience as well as hearing from hundreds of customer’s especially military personnel that my sleep systems have performed at temperatures lower than the published ratings.

Over the last 40 years (1968-2008) I have offered to share my knowledge with those in the employ of USARDC all to no avail. They have chosen to work with the information presented to them from individuals who have never made a sleeping bag in their life that actually worked for the condition that it was made for or ever made a sleeping bag in the first place. One fellow I worked with some years ago was very successful selling sleeping bags that he purchased from me. When he decided to start manufacturing on his own he chose not to buy the Lamilite which I certainly would have sold him; but instead used the chopped staple fiberfill product known as Primaloft. All attempts on his part to make a credible sleeping bag were failures as I expected. He then tried to make bags copying me; a law suit against him ended that. Recently the Marines in conjunction with USARDC placed a Request for Information notice for a sleeping bag for +20 temperature condition with a certain weight. I wrote about this and the article is posted on my follow up articles site. I would not offer a candidate bag because what they were asking for could not be accomplished. However, this fellow who has never been successful in the past has shown them a candidate sleeping bag that will work he claims;nonsense! To the best of my knowledge they have embraced this bag, it is quilted. Why you ask because he is incompetent and they do embrace incompetence.

There is one fellow in the employ of USARDC who sent me an e mail after reading my account of the tragedy of the Chilean military losing 150 soldiers to hypothermia (March-April 2006 newsletter in the archives). He said and I quote “From my perspective as an equipment specialist, one that has built sleeping bags in the past and will field more in the future I look forward to your submissions backed by data from Kansas St. with wet and dry Clo values for your insulations.” I guess I disappointed him when I chose not to submit a candidate bag. I find it interesting that a person who has had a career in the military has somehow also acquired the knowledge necessary to make functioning performing sleeping bags. If this is so why hasn’t this individual started his own business as a sleeping bag maker or since he is in the employ of USARDC why doesn’t he use this wealth of knowledge to educate those he works with as to what materials will work in the making of sleeping bags for the military? Then of course they would be able to specify the components necessary to accomplish the mission. The stark reality is they have been totally successful at failure to provide a sleeping bag to the troops that does in fact perform as desired. With regard to his comment about the wet and dry clo values, maybe he should read the January 2007 article about Lamilite neutralizing water. Chances are he has read ever article I have written.

Keep in mind that all of the sleeping bags that have emanated from the USARDC have been of a quilted construction. Whenever I took the time to show them my bags construction; laminated they found reasons why it would not work or would not work for military application. I have kept all of the letters from them stating these many fictitious reasons. I believe the reason they chose not to embrace my bag is because if they did their 40 years of stonewalling will come to an end.

Several years ago I wrote to then President Reagan that the military was approving the shingle construction sleeping bag from The North Face Company with the Gore-Tex bivi bag. The target price was $155.00 for the set. I received an answer from a Major General in the Pentagon telling me how much they appreciated my concern for the soldiers but the bag system was a done deal. My response was that he had no knowledge of manufacturing and even less knowledge of insulation and when they had exhausted all possibilities I would still be around making the best sleeping bags in the world. When a solicitation to bid came out the low bidder was somewhere in the area of $435.00 per set. No contract was ever placed.

My comment to the Major General is the same to USARDC today; when you have exhausted all possibilities I’ll still be around making the best sleeping bags in the world. Reflect on my motto “SIMPLY THE BEST”!

It appears to me that the USARDC employees in the textile area are competent at maintaining their incompetence.

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