Soldiers get new threads and gear at Camp Shelby

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It certainly isn't your typical fashion show. There's not a lot of glitz and glamour, instead it's kits and armor.

You won't find it on runway models either, because it's the latest fashion for troops deploying to combat zones in Afghanistan. And it's the first time soldiers at Camp Shelby are seeing their new threads and gear, which will replace everything currently used.

"If you look back over the last nine years, you go back when we started into the global war on terror and you look at the changes that we've made to not only individual equipment, but also all the other equipment in the army it's phenomenal," said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston.

The major change is the camo color and pattern designed to help soldiers blend in more with the Afghan environment. A team of engineers then looked at every detail, from replacing Velcro with buttons to making additional gear more soldier friendly and combat ready.

"I look at the changes that we make, it's a continuous process, we're continuing to evolve and continue to change. I think when you become stationary and you stop changing, you know, that's when you run the risk of being outdated," said Preston.

Those changes come straight from the soldiers, like Sgt. Derek Woltman with the Iowa National Guard, who will soon be on his third deployment.

"We're the ones out there fielding all the equipment, doing these missions," said Woltman.

"That feedback comes back and we make the modifications to provide them with the very best possible equipment that we can," said Preston.

One by one, soldiers are sized head to toe, fitted and then trained on the new equipment.

"It's going to help us out a lot," said Woltman.

"To be able to provide the best possible equipment out there to meet the needs of the soldier immediately on the ground is absolutely essential to our success on the battlefield, but also to save lives," said Preston.

The basic combat outfit weighs at least 50 lbs and once the additions are added on, it can be about 70 lbs. That's weight these soldiers carry with pride, defending the country they love.

"I think as a nation, we owe it to our soldiers," said Preston.