What is it? RFI leverages current programs and commercial-off-the-shelf technology to give the Soldier increased survivability, lethality, and mobility capabilities. The RFI list is updated periodically by the Training and Doctrine Command to keep the list relevant to the war and its lessons learned. The RFI list comprises two types of equipment: (1) equipment every Soldier receives (such as helmets, clothing items and hydration systems) and (2) equipment fielded to units. While all organizations receive certain unit equipment, a more expansive list is provided to Brigade Combat Teams and other selected organizations identified by HQDA, to include lethality and specialty items such as weapons optics and Military Operations on Urban Terrain kits. In parallel, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier also fields a variety of other items essential to readiness that are not RFI items, to include Interceptor Body Armor, Thermal Weapon Sights, Night Vision Goggles, Multi-Band Inter-/Intra-Team Radio, and the Army Combat Uniform.
What has the Army done? The Army is fielding RFI equipment to every deploying Soldier, regardless of component. Priority of fielding is to Soldiers deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Horn of Africa, Balkans, and then the remainder of the Operating Force until complete. Beginning in 3rd quarter Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, RFI began fielding additional lethality items and the Improved First Aid Kit based on approved Soldier-recommended changes. As of August 31, 2006, the Army has fielded RFI equipment to 728,988 Soldiers worldwide. The goal is to conduct RFI in accordance with the “Equip-Train-Deploy” concept in order to maximize home station training. Every attempt is made to field RFI to units and Soldiers prior to deployment; however, RFI has fielding sites at the Air Ports of Debarkation in Ali As Salem, Kuwait, as well as in Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan, to field RFI equipment to any OIF or OEF individual or unit that does not receive RFI at home station. The Defense Logistics Agency instituted an in-theater RFI sustainment strategy in October 2004 to sustain RFI Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment items at its forward depot in Kuwait. Army Direct Ordering and other theater-unique sustainment processes are also in place to support deployed units.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future? RFI continues to be flexible and dynamic. On 10 January 2004, Chief of Staff, Army, approved fielding of RFI equipment to the entire operating Army by the end of FY 2007. The Army’s plan is to field the entire operating Army and other potential deployers in the Army-at-Large (a total of 1,166,000 Soldiers) by end of FY 2007. PEO Soldier has recently proposed that the RFI concept be institutionalized as a complementary program to the Army Force Generation model to ensure the continued synchronization of Soldier equipment modernization and sustainment beyond FY 2007.
Why is it important to the Army? In October 2002, the Vice Chief of Staff, Army, directed PEO Soldier to develop the RFI program to equip all deploying Soldiers with enhanced capabilities for the Global War on Terror (GWOT). This directive initiated the U.S. Army’s largest equipment fielding effort since World War II and is intended to supplement unit and Soldier equipment with essential capabilities required for success in the GWOT. The program enhances the capabilities of our Active and Reserve Component fighting forces while ensuring Soldier modernization in a systematic and integrated manner that is commensurate with the principles of the Soldier-as-a-System philosophy.
Additional information on the RFI program is available at https://peosoldier.army.mil/.