A Soldier's Soldier Receives Specialized, Mission-Essential Equipment
December 6, 2006
By Debi Dawson
Fort Belvoir, VA (November 30, 2006) -When F Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, in Germany, deploys to Iraq next year, its Soldiers will be carrying the Army's most specialized, mission-essential Soldier equipment available. What makes F Company's deployment preparation for Iraq different from other units equipped with Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear is that a member of the unit, First Lieutenant Jeff Bonheim, will receive his RFI kit from his father, Colonel Mike Bonheim, the RFI Project Director.
The unique fielding event will take place on December 12 in Katterbach, Germany, as part of an RFI fielding to more than 2,900 Soldiers of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. Media are welcome to attend.
RFI's specialized gear enhances combat effectiveness, saves lives, reduces injuries, and improves the overall quality of life for Soldiers in the field. Since 2002, more than 800,000 Soldiers have received RFI kits containing the best, most current individual and unit military equipment available. By the end of September 2007, RFI will equip the entire operating Army and other deployers, for a total of more than one million troops in four years.
The Bonheims are a military family and proud of it. First Lieutenant Bonheim recently completed the Aviation Officer Basic Course and the Initial Entry Rotary Wing CH-47D Course following his graduation from the United States Military Academy in May 2005. His grandfather served in Vietnam and his uncle recently deployed to Iraq for the second time-also with RFI gear.
As the Project Director for RFI, Colonel Bonheim has particularly well-informed confidence in the gear his 23-year-old son will be taking to Iraq. He cites the Advanced Combat Helmet and the Improved First Aid Kit as examples of RFI items proven to have saved many lives. "We frequently receive testimonials from Soldiers on the effectiveness of the equipment we provide," said Colonel Bonheim.
The list of RFI equipment currently consists of 58 items of individual and small unit equipment. It is refined and updated based on continuous Soldier feedback. Among the items it includes are:
* The Advanced Combat Helmet, which gives the Soldier a better fit and permits better hearing. It is lighter than the traditional Kevlar helmet and makes it easier for the Soldier to shoot while wearing it.
* The Improved First Aid Kit, which provides enhanced capabilities for the immediate treatment of bleeding from wounds and airway obstructions.
* Knee and Elbow Pads, which protect the dismounted Soldier against possible injury or discomfort caused by impact, pressure, or protruding objects and debris.
* Laser Target Location Systems, which provide daylight and limited night capability to observe and accurately locate targets for voice transmission of target data.
* Miniature binoculars, which provide Soldiers a small, lightweight means of supporting reconnaissance and target identification.
* The Improved Spotting Scope with Tripod, which allows identification of targets from greater distances.
"RFI showcases the Army's commitment to providing our Soldiers with the best possible equipment. Since its inception in 2002, we've been able to leverage technological advances through rapid acquisition and fielding of equipment for use in the Global War on Terrorism," says Colonel Bonheim. "I think the results speak for themselves. We have an ongoing dialogue with our Soldiers; they know their feedback started the program and, in many ways, still drives it."
RFI operates under the direction of the Army PEO Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. PEO Soldier has mobile fielding teams that visit Army installations worldwide, and fixed facilities at Ft. Benning, Ft. Bliss, and Ft. Jackson. The operation is also forward deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan. Program Executive Officer Soldier, Brigadier General Mark Brown, says, "We are committed to providing our Soldiers with the best world-class equipment available in the most efficient and effective manner possible. The PEO Soldier Team strives to ensure that the Soldier and everything he/she wears or carries works together as a highly effective, durable and integrated system."