In the continuous context of strong solicitation of our forces, the resilience and availability of equipment is vital. It is equally the same for the soldiers which is part of a major issue. One of it, is the continuous strengthening of the protection of combatants, on the ballistic side of course, and on the earing as well. Better protection of the fighter, especially through the improvement of his equipment, is a pledge of sustainability on operations over time, but also of efficiency. It helps to save lives, to reduce associated stress from degraded environments in which soldier are exposed
The perspective of strengthening ballistic protection is, of course, a major reflection for engaged troops on field outside as well as inside the country against terrorism. The men and women who conduct urban patrols are often targets of the terrorists. At the level of the individual fighter, the challenge is to strengthen the safety, especially through his protective equipment (helmet, combat vest) while ensuring that he keeps ability to maneuver and to act (flexibility, speed), still in rough environments (especially in Africa) that put the physical condition to the test: use of new materials being more resistant, lighter, leading to multifunctionality such as on ballistic helmets, contribution of available and proven new technologies.
Equally central, but more invisible and less obvious, is the question of the earing protection for soldiers considering improvement both at training and on the ground. This issue known through multiple work and reports has been incorporated within the debates during the Military Programming Law (LPM). Evolving in extremely noisy environments, using weapons systems that are also highly noisy, soldiers are, highly exposed to the risks of hearing trauma. Far from being marginal, because of lack of protection, or misuse, the traumas cause unavailability of soldiers, most likely temporarily, and sometimes permanently. The management of this issue is thus understood on different levels: prevention policy, awareness raising, equipment and staffing with effective protection systems. ....
The LPM is now paving the way for an efficient implementation of a plan to reduce these traumas. This plan will thus be able to take into account available technological capabilities and to leverage successful experience of other Armies which have recently established this as major priority. The main aim being to guarantee, among other things, better operational availability of soldiers.
This well-recognized problem calls for an upgrade implementation. This will lead to the integration within the different weapons systems, considering the raise of more intense usage of communication systems. This will need to consider the infantryman needs of listening to its very close environment and communicating with his nearby soldier-group.
The three Armies are familiar with this problem, being each affected in their own way with regard to their specificities. More than a thousand cases of ear trauma are recorded every year. In addition to the unavailability of the soldier, this requires a health-care chain, and therefore a significant financial cost in a budgetary context still with strong constraints.
For many years now, in the field of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), 3M offers adapted and efficient solutions. Dedicating 6% of its turnover annually to research and development of innovative solutions which combine: strengthening of protection, better perception of the environment and capacity to integrate evolving communication systems. This work helps to improve the safety of soldiers in operations and their effectiveness.
This recognized know-how is implemented by many armies sharing the same objective: to allow soldiers for perceiving their direct environment in the best way, while being totally ear protected, still integrated into the various communications system being used.
In France, the Special Operations Command (COS) selected 3M/Peltor head equipment protective and communicating equipment to equip a part of his soldiers. Similar 3M equipment is also equipping parachute commandos and mountain commandos, teams operating the Caesar artillery systems, instructors of the CENZUB (urban Combat), sections of snipers at ground Army and Air commandos. 3M is also equipping the US Marine Corps for the past 4 years with a last-generation combat helmet, and since beginning of 2017 the US Army with electronic hearing protection available on two technological platforms: head equipment and in-ear device. In Europe, Swedish army introduced the 3M/Peltor - ComtacXP headset in 1998, specifically to address the problem of ear trauma. After ten years of use, the sound traumas were divided by ten among the fighters. 3M exists in France since 1952. 3M is also a defense OEM attaching great importance to the solutions protecting people in their professional environment. Engaged for many years alongside the French armies contributing to their success within always more difficult and demanding missions. To achieve this goal, 3M France employs 2400 people and has 10 sites. The ongoing R&D financed by 6% of its turnover leads innovation always considering respect to climate, integrity and code of conducts which foundation of the reputation and success of the companies, recognized as one of the most ethical in the world.