• Sgt. 1st Class Gary Wilson, Rapid Equipping Force current operations officer, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of the Man Portable Line Charge, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va. The MPLC is a lightweight; man-portable, rocket launched explosive line charge system designed to assist small tactical units in creating a footpath in urban and complex, mined or trip-wired environments; in covered or concealed positions.

    Man Portable Line Charge

    Sgt. 1st Class Gary Wilson, Rapid Equipping Force current operations officer, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of the Man Portable Line Charge, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va. The MPLC is a lightweight; man-portable...

  • Col. Peter A. Newell, Rapid Equipping Force director, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the Energy to the Tactical Edge effort, which includes solar capabilities, hybrid generators and these universal battery chargers, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va.

    Energy to the Tactical Edge

    Col. Peter A. Newell, Rapid Equipping Force director, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the Energy to the Tactical Edge effort, which includes solar capabilities, hybrid generators and these universal battery chargers, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort...

  • Col. Peter A. Newell, Rapid Equipping Force director briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va. The vehicle is designed to easily transport military personnel in difficult terrain, such as mud or sand, while still providing the same protection as a full-size vehicle.

    Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle

    Col. Peter A. Newell, Rapid Equipping Force director briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va. The vehicle is designed to easily transport military...

  • Robert Thomas, acquisition project officer, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of Eye TRAC, an innovative device that measures the ability of a human eye to maintain focus on a moving object, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir, Va. This device is useful in identifying possible brain injuries by comparing baseline readings of eye movement taken prior to a mission, with readings taken after a Soldier is involved in an explosive or traumatic event.

    Eye TRAC

    Robert Thomas, acquisition project officer, briefs Secretary of the Army John McHugh on the capabilities of Eye TRAC, an innovative device that measures the ability of a human eye to maintain focus on a moving object, Jan. 15, 2013, at Fort Belvoir...

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Jan. 17, 2013) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh spent the afternoon of Jan. 15, gaining a first-hand look at the latest and most innovative capabilities being placed into the hands of Soldiers by the Army's Rapid Equipping Force, known as REF, at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"It impresses me every time I have an opportunity to see the novel solutions developed by our Soldiers," said McHugh. "The REF is the tip of the spear for speed and innovation in that regard."

In a hangar beside the organization's headquarters building, REF Director Col. Peter A. Newell and his staff walked McHugh through a series of recent and game-changing technologies, ranging from tactical surveillance blimps to traumatic blast sensors. The systems, many of which spawned from the direct ideas and feedback of Soldiers themselves, are helping pave the way for a more agile and proactive Army.

"The Soldier doesn't need someone to tell him the problem he's facing," Newell said. "He needs someone looking over his shoulder fixing it."

Based on Soldier-defined priorities, the projects on hand during the visit included improvised explosive detection and reconnaissance in the form of multiple robots, ground-pressure machinery and rocket-launched exploding line charges; tactical ground vehicles for responsive maneuvering; hand-held enemy visualization tools and sensors for understanding the effects of blasts on the human body and vehicle. A recent addition to REF's repertoire of life-saving Soldier support is its Energy to the Tactical Edge, or E2E, suite of capabilities, which includes hybrid generators, Soldier-worn universal battery chargers, and light-weight mobile solar panels for dismount operations.

"Every great idea we put into the fight demands power," said Bill Garland, REF's E2E effort lead. "So we asked the question, 'What can we do to reduce the energy burden placed on our Warfighters?'"

Also during the systems tour, Steven Mapes, the product lead for Soldier Power at PEO Soldier,
explained to McHugh a project born from a partnership with REF: the Soldier Worn Integrated Power System. The system alleviates battery load and charging requirements for Soldiers on dismount patrols. These cross-army partnerships are the lynchpin of REF's success in fast-action support to ground troops.

"The REF doesn't do anything in a vacuum," Newell said. "It's our partnerships that make us who we are."

In a briefing following the tour of systems, Newell outlined his vision for REF's future, which included directly linking Soldiers in the fight to the scientists, engineers and innovators stateside to deliver solutions in real time. Part of that, he explained to the group, will mean making it easier for small business and individual inventors to work with the Department of Defense.

"There are so many great ideas floating around out there, but we don't hear them," Newell said. "We want to give [industry] an easy way to share ideas."

After gaining a full-emersion of the REF's current technologies and future ambitions, McHugh commended the REF and its people for the work done for Soldiers every day.

"It's clear you make Soldiers' lives safer, and there's no doubt that you have saved a lot of lives," McHugh said. "The challenge we all face now is how do we take what you've built, and ensure that this capability continues."

For additional information about the Rapid Equipping Force, call REF Public Affairs Office at 703-704-9433.

Page last updated Fri January 18th, 2013 at 07:09