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«I was impressed with the flexibility shown by everyone.»

Oskar Hollenstein is Head of the specialist area Technique of the competence sector Purchasing and Cooperations. Since 2013, he has also been Head of the project Modular Clothing and Equipment System for Military Deployment (MBAS). Business trips within Europe were a fixed part of his job before 2020. In the interview, you can read about business trips in times of Corona and the challenges which need to be overcome in the project.

Ryf Lea, specialist area Communications, Resources and Support

Oskar Hollenstein sitting at a table with hands folded.
Oskar Hollenstein, Head of the specialist area Technique and project manager of MBAS, in the interview.


Mr. Hollenstein, how have you experienced collaboration within the team and with the industry partners during the Corona pandemic?
The switch from physical meetings to Skype meetings took some getting used to for me.  However, it quickly became apparent that many topics could definitely be discussed in Skype meetings. The team had little difficulty. I experienced the same with industry.

How often do you normally travel on business each year and for what purposes? And how often did you travel in 2020?
Three to four business trips within Europe were normal. On the one hand, two meetings with representatives of other nations in a sub-group of the NAAG (NATO Army Armaments Group), in which I represent Switzerland. On the other hand, to trade fairs in order to meet with suppliers and representatives from companies. The advantage of these trade fairs is that several suppliers can be visited within a very short space of time.

I did not travel in 2020. Business trips at this stage of the MBAS project were not necessary, as we were in the phase of preparation for procurements in the MBAS project, in other words, tenders.

How were planned physical meetings reorganised?
Online meetings needed to be prepared and internally coordinated even more precisely than was necessary for meetings where we were physically present. These were, for example, contract discussions together with suppliers of fabric with camouflage print.

Where do you see the advantages and disadvantages?

Like working from home, travel to and from the meetings is no longer required. In terms of time, this is definitely an advantage. However, the conversations which run concurrently and which are also important, were lacking. You hear the team members, but seeing them would be just as important.

To what extent have the protective measures influenced project planning for MBAS (Modular Clothing and Equipment System for Military Deployment)?

In the project, some of the verification trials planned in spring needed to be postponed until summer, as sub-suppliers could no longer provide components in time. Fortunately, the preparations for tenders, which took place at the same time, could be continued.

Information on project MBAS

MBAS has been approved for the armament programme 18 and includes the new equipment for AdA (members of the Armed Forces), which covers clothing, ballistic protection, bags and backpacks. The launch is planned from 2022.

MBAS will replace the combat clothing 90/06 (Tenu C), the basic carrier unit 90, the combat backpack 90 and the protective vest 96. The new clothing and equipment provides optimisation potential in terms of ergonomics and thermophysiology, which has a performance-enhancing effect.

The tried-and-tested onion shell principle of combat clothing 90/06 will be retained. This means that it should still be possible for members of the Armed Forces to adapt their own clothing to temperature and weather conditions. Thanks to the components which can be used on a modular basis, such as bags and protective plates, clothing and equipment can be designed for specific deployment.

What was the greatest challenge in the whole situation?

The close coordination of the individual activities and persons in the project. We no longer met in multispace offices. I first had to get used to active contact via Skype.

What will you take away from this experience once the situation has returned to normal, hopefully soon?

I was impressed with the flexibility shown by everyone. There was little evidence of classical business administration.

Brief profile

Oskar Hollenstein (55) is a graduate chemical engineer and joined armasuisse in 2004. Prior to this, he held various roles in the chemical and plastics industries. He is Head of the specialist area Technique in the competence sector Purchasing and Cooperations. Since 2013, he has also been Head of the project Modular Clothing and Equipment System for Military Deployment (MBAS).