The Marine Corps wants industry to come forward with ideas for new systems that would enhance hearing and protect users from damage caused by high volume. Marine Corps Systems Command, which put forth a request for information from industry on Sept. 6, wants any such new devices to be compatible with existing radios and the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH). The service wants to buy between 7,000 and 65,000 such devices sometime within the next three years. Users would wear both the new hearing devices and the Combat Arms Earplugs they wear now.
The new systems are necessary because Marines in combat situations often do not wear hearing protection, because it can hinder critical communications among each other at inopportune times.
“Marines have the earplugs and they do provide protection, but sometimes they choose not to wear them because they want to be aware of their surroundings at all times. The new headset we want to acquire will allow Marines to wear hearing protection, yet still provide the opportunity to communicate and understand what’s going on around them,” said Steven Fontenot, project officer for the service’s department responsible for hearing and eye protection.
The system could provide the protection that would be necessary if and when the service introduces new and louder weapons to the fleet as well, Fontenot said.