These are our stories.

Reporting For Heavy Duty

From Bosnia to Afghanistan to Iraq, our CORDURA® fabrics have had this soldier’s back. Today he’s returning the favor for other men and women in uniform – by finding ways to make military gear and uniforms more fit for duty than ever.

“When I was serving in Iraq in 2005, a 107-millimeter rocket burst through the roof of a palace we were operating out of. It slammed through walls, computers and chairs, killing two people instantly and wounding five. One of the five was an officer friend of mine. His whole left side was peppered with fragmentation, his left arm was broken in seven places and his uniform was heavily singed. He was completely immobilized.”

Retired Army Director of Operations Jonathan Long, nickname JD, pauses briefly. Then continues.

“If it wasn’t for his flame-resistant garment, his whole uniform would have caught fire. He would have died. Instead, we were able to get him outside, stop the bleeding and get him to a mobile hospital unit. He eventually returned to duty.”

After 22 years in the U.S. Army, JD understands one thing perfectly: a military uniform is more than merely symbolic of a nation’s strength. It must also physically be as strong, tenacious, and capable as the men and women who wear it.

UNBELIEVABLY TOUGH

From head to toe and all points between, CORDURA® fabric helps equip today’s soldiers for whatever mission they may face.

 

Today, as Global Innovation Manager at INVISTA, JD’s mission is to make sure the military is equipped with garments and gear made from fibers that perform under extreme conditions – while exploring innovative ways to make them even better.

“Whether it’s the twisted rebar and broken glass of an urban combat environment or the equally brutal spiky vegetation, poison ivy, ice and mud of nature, the right fabric is the first line of defense between human physiology and the inhospitable environments we’re in,” JD explains. “Your uniform is your second skin. It enables you to go out into harsh environments and succeed. If we didn’t have the level of quality that we have, garments would rip and gear packs would fall apart.”

The right fabric is the first line of defense.

For the U.S. military, the fabric of choice is very often INVISTA’s CORDURA® NYCO fabric. This robust blend of INVISTA’s T420 nylon 6,6 fiber and cotton is used to craft every combat uniform across all four branches of the U.S. military. The extremely durable, strong and flexible fabric is also used in everything from field gear and pack systems to boots and helmet covers.

“I’m a believer,” JD exclaimed. “I’ve been to Afghanistan three times and once to Iraq. I’ve been to Bosnia, Central America and Korea. My whole career I was always protected by products made with CORDURA® fabric.”

Among JD’s roles is working with product development teams to help identify unmet needs of their largest customer – the U.S. Department of Defense. One such need is for even lighter-weight, more comfortable uniforms which retain the same rigorous performance specs. One of the ways JD’s team is making it happen is with the new CORDURA® NYCO Extreme fabric technology.

Rugged Innovation With A Customer Focus

“The Koch business philosophy tells us to listen to and understand the needs of our customer. In this case, our customer is telling us they need a lighter-weight fabric. Let’s say the soldier is carrying 120 pounds and we can lighten their garment weight. They’d get to their objective a little less stressed, a little cooler, a little less worn and torn. And they’d accomplish their mission a little more efficiently and safely,” JD explains.

Another state-of-the-art capability INVISTA brings the military is expertise in incorporating near-infrared (NIR) camouflage into fabrics. This technology gives its wearer nighttime stealth – blending into the environment around them when viewed through night vision goggles.

But if you think JD’s work is confined to a desk or laboratory, you haven’t seen the grueling testing regimen required to field new uniforms, pack systems and other gear.

“Before we can trust this gear to work for our soldiers, we put it through some pretty harsh testing. It’s tested in jungles and deserts by real soldiers in real-life situations – such as 12-mile ruck marches through rugged, inhospitable terrain, scraping against rocks and trees. Not to mention, our rucksacks are thrown into irrigation canals in Iraq, off mountain sides in Afghanistan or dropped 30 feet from a helicopter,” JD added. “It all has got to hold together. If our fabric fails, our customer’s missions might fail too.”

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ALL HE EVER WANTED TO DO WAS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Early in his adulthood, JD earned a college degree, an MBA and landed a pretty good job at a telecom company. Yet he still felt unfulfilled. While researching great leaders in politics, business and other fields, JD began to notice a commonality. It wasn’t where they grew up or went to school. It was their common military service.

“We were in the middle of a cold war and Ronald Reagan was president,” JD remembers. “I stopped what I was doing and pursued the military because I believed in my heart that was the way for me to make more of a positive difference in the world.”

“What many civilians don’t realize is that most of the time you’re not involved in wars. For instance, I worked for two years in and out of Honduras. We put in dozens of schools and medical clinics. We dug wells and repaired bridges. My point is, the military offers you a lot of opportunities to serve and make the world a better place.”

And from his own time in uniform to helping create the remarkable uniforms and gear of tomorrow’s service members, he’s still hard at it.