Our VIRTUS Soldier System has been issued in the past years to 10,000s of British Army soldiers in a growing number of units deployed all over the world. The SOURCE Virtus UK Instructors Team is lead by Phil and Al, former Royal Marine soldiers. They visit the units, instruct, and are always approachable for questions. Of course, they also relay feedback to our developers.
Members of the SOURCE Virtus instructors team in the UK have traveled from the UK to Israel, Cyprus, Estonia, and other places, and covered nearly 20 thousand miles visiting Units around the UK. One week they present to an audience of 500, the next they could be crawling through a swamp trialing equipment.
Experience Shows: Follow These 4 Tips
Virtus looks quite complex as there are so many components – but it’s actually pretty simple to use. Having said that, it is a completely new kit, and especially the use of the Dynamic Weight Distribution (DWD) needs to be explored and takes a bit of getting used to. Our instructors compiled 4 top tips from experience that will help get the most from VIRTUS:
Tip 1: MOLLE Belt
Wear the MOLLE Belt on the hips and securely fastened to provide increased comfort, stability and support to the lower back, to enable load to be transferred to the hips. Make sure the belt is correctly routed to prevent the buckle from slipping undone.
Tip 2: Scaling the Vest
When scaling the Virtus Scalable Tactical Vest (STV) from a Body Armour Vest to a Plate Carrier make sure the Soft Armour Filler (SAF) is removed. Leaving the SAF in will negate the benefit of reduced weight and thermal load, and folding the sides will seriously damage the SAF by creasing it – creating a critical vulnerability.
Tip 3: The Pack
Put the tactical backpack on properly! Done correctly the pack will sit properly giving better stability and comfort. It is not complex, it is just different to what users are used to. Fit the sternum strap first, then tighten the shoulder straps.
Tip 4: The DWD
Learn how to use the DWD. The DWD is not magic and does not make the load lighter but it does allow you to carry weight more efficiently and with greater comfort by varying the load distribution. For the DWD to work you need a tight MOLLE belt – use it like you would a civvy walking rucksack on top of the hips. Being able to vary the load distribution is proven to delay the onset of fatigue and improve cognitive performance. The advantage of the DWD is when you need maximum agility you can just put it in Assault mode.
For questions and comments related to Virtus don’t hesitate to contact us but please understand that it is not possible to discuss Virtus details by email. If you are serving in the British Army, please make use of your official communications channels.
Phil and Al both support SOURCE in the UK, delivering training and expertise for the VIRTUS Soldier System. They both compete in this year’s Telemark Championships and we took some time to chat about Telemark and their job, instructing units in the British Army about the new VIRTUS Soldier System by SOURCE.
How did you get into the job?
Phil – I was lucky and spent time working at Infantry Trials and Development Unit in Warminster. I really enjoyed the work and being able to make a difference. The opportunity came up helping roll out the SOURCE VIRTUS system so I jumped at the chance to use my experience to pass it onto others.
Al – The success of using an experienced ex-service member and a revised fielding model became very clear, this led to the MOD wanting to expand the team. Having spent the latter part of my career as a weapons instructor I quickly discovered I had a passion for teaching, this combined with a good knowledge of solider systems and my interest in “perfecting equipment” (known in the military as a kit pest!) made me a strong fit for the role.
What is your average day?
Phil – There is no average day. We can spend time briefing on VIRTUS, teaching how to best use the kit to yomping over the Brecon beacons and bivvying out in the kit to see how it performs when living with it.
Al – As Phil’s said it’s an incredibly varied role, in my first year I have spent time out in Israel, Cyprus and Estonia and covered nearly 20 thousand miles visiting Units around the UK. One week I could be presenting to an audience of 500, the next I could be crawling through a swamp trialling equipment.
What is the best part of your job?
Phil – Getting the best kit for the soldier. We spend a lot of time testing, evaluating and developing the system to ensure it works when needed. We will spend time using the kit in realistic situations and wear it in demanding conditions. Running an assault course in 38oC whilst wearing Body Armour and equipment weighing 32kg was pretty miserable though!
Al – Interacting closely with the end user and assisting them in getting the most from the equipment in their bespoke roles. As VIRTUS is now being issued to a very broad spectrum of UK armed forces, we see many different user groups and their requirements; for instance a configuration that works for an infantryman will be different to that of a medic or AFV crew.
What have you learned about the MOD and kit procurement?
Al – Whilst I was still serving, the general feeling from the troops was that the MOD would go for the cheapest option when it came to equipment. Having now seen a procurement process from the invitation to tender through to trial phase, this is not the case. The list of requirements the equipment must meet (a lot of which are unseen to the end user) is extensive and thus the challenge faced by a manufacturer to meet all of them is huge.
If they make it through this selection then it’s on to a trial phase where the equipment will be extensively tested in various environments by the end user. I think it is safe to say, the end user is getting the best equipment available at that time.
Now last but not least: Why telemark?
We are are both ex Royal Marines and Telemark Skiing is a transferable skill used by the RM in the Arctic. Phil spent quite a few winters in Norway with the Royal Marines and learned to Telemark (badly) on military planks! During Al’s time with the Royal Marines, the Arctic deployments ceased due to operational commitments, hence his being new to the sport.
The Telemark Championships give the opportunity to learn how to do it properly with some really great tuition. Ultimately though it is because Phil is always looking for the perfect turn.
Thank you Al and Phil, and good luck for the upcoming races!!
The Royal Marine Operational Shooting Competition (RMOSC) has one standout feature: competitors are required to carry 31 pounds of gear. Royal Marine Reservist Cpl Al Kendrick won this year’s RMOSC edition – thanks, in part, to the smart load distribution features of SOURCE Virtus.
SOURCE Tactical Gear is all about providing you with smart and excellent gear enhancing your performance, lessening burden, reducing stress and enabling you to go further and achieve best possible results. Last week, Cpl Al Kendrick, Royal Marine Reservist and one of the Virtus Fielding Instructors for the UK Armed Forces, excelled in what he does: winning the prestigious Royal Marine Operational Shooting Competition (RMOSC) – utilizing VIRTUS to carry the required 31 pounds of gear.
100M Sprints, Stretchers and a 1.5 Mile March …
The different stages and shoots in the two-week RMOSC involve 14 pistol and rifle shoots, replicating different combat scenarios, some more some less physical, involving different types of targets and directives. In all of the shoots, participants are required to carry armor, helmet, webbing and gear weighing in at over 30 pounds.
Advantage: VIRTUS Soldier System with DWD Load Distribution
“The VIRTUS Tactical Vest in combination with the DWD Load Distribution System was definitely a massive advantage over older gear” Cpl Kendrick confirmed after his win. VIRTUS gives you “more range of movement and the weight is spread almost unnoticeable around the body”. Also the possibility to easily shift weight from shoulders to hips and back – depending on mission, situation and position – adds freedom of movement and comfort.
Congrats Al from all of us at SOURCE for the outstanding achievement, we’re proud to have you as a member of the Virtus team!
As the first British Armed Forces units are equipped with our Virtus SOURCE Soldier System, watch this report by the British Army Forces TV about Virtus performance in the field, and soldiers’ first impression and appreciation of the all newly developed, highly customizable and adaptable load bearing and protective system by SOURCE.
“Virtus is lighter, slimmer and more manoeuvrable than older models,” reports Forces TV. 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) are some of the first soldiers to receive it. Watch Ali Gibsons’s report from Wales, as 3 RIFLES get ready to fly to the USA for a large scale joint exercise.