FORT SILL, Okla. (March 14, 2019) -- Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery shuffle into a hangar on Fort Sill's flightline, hand over their common access card, and receive a piece of paper.

That small item serves as a sort of shopping list of items they will need as they gather their RFI, rapid fielding initiative.

Soldiers get a large portion of their Army-issued clothing and equipment from the Central Issue Facility; however, not all of those items fit the requirements to go into another country, said 1st Lt. Nicholas Jones, the S-4, or supply officer, for 4-3rd ADA.

"It's the equipment that you need to deploy to a certain theater," said Jones. "So depending on what theater you go to you need to get fielded certain pieces of equipment, according to the Army. Specifically, the camouflage ... there's other pieces of clothing whether it be a summer top or a certain type of boots or a certain type of gloves that you need to go into theater."

During the course of two days, more than 500 Soldiers will go through the RFI process, entering the hangar with empty hands and leaving carrying as many as two to three full bags.

The process begins with Soldiers being handed their shopping list, then proceeds to a body-armor fitting for the improved outer tactical vest.

They are issued bags, small arms protective insert (sapi) plates, and other equipment, in addition to reviewing personal information to ensure the unit has updated data.

The process involves Soldiers from 4-3rd ADA's sister battalions within the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, in addition to members of Fort Sill's central issue facility and even an RFI team from Fort Hood, Texas.

According to Jones, this was the most efficient way to field all the equipment in the shortest amount of time. Because of the training schedule and the deployment readiness exercises, the unit had a small window to achieve what Jones calls a "no-fail mission."

"A no-fail mission means that if we do not succeed as far as getting everyone RFI within the two-day timeframe, then it could really substantially make it difficult for us to meet our deployment requirements moving forward," he said.

Following the issue of RFI, the Soldiers then went through an hour-long training on how to use the improved outer tactical vest (IOTV).

"With the upgraded IOTV, we're learning how it works and the differences between the older ones with the new one," said 1st Lt. Clay Jones, executive officer of Battery A, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery. "Just like anything else ... sometimes they get a little more complicated so it's important that you use it effectively so that it will serve you the best way it can."

Editor's note: This is part three of an ongoing series as Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 3rd ADA, 31st ADA Brigade prepare for an upcoming deployment.