Ready to Respond
Germany, 1987

Ready to RespondLeadership and technical competence are dual characteristics of the NCO, especially in modern combat when units are often widely sepa-rated and armed with very sophisticated weapons. The Army recognized the fact that today's NCOs must be both effective leaders and skilled technicians when it eliminated the distinction between sergeants and specialists. Here the corporal preparing for guard duty and the sergeant communicating with the home base are modern, complete NCOs, combining both types of skills.

During the 1980s the Army underwent one of the most intensive peace-time technological transformations in its history. From the M1 Abrams tank to the field ration, the Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE), the most basic items of Army life were modernized. Increased emphasis on the need for every soldier to be prepared for combat is reflected in the fact that both soldiers wear the battle dress uniform (BDU), which incorporates many features to enhance survivability in combat. These garments for the first time provided all troops with camouflage, while the properties of the fabric itself and the use of miniature rank insignia on the collar reduced the chance of detection. Preparation for battle was extended to an improved protective vest and new style of helmet. The fast-drying nylon Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) and redesigned boot drew upon the best features of commercial hiking and camping gear to extend the soldier's capabilities in a field environment.