The U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) is known to rely on its partnerships with industry, academia, and other U.S. government agencies to remain informed of current and emerging technologies, while also leveraging each other's expertise and experience to help devise solutions to meet the urgent needs of the warfighter. Attending the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition provides the REF an opportunity to engage with leaders and experts from across the Army and industry to understand the capability gaps that the fielded force encounters in our current operating environment."This [AUSA] is when the Army comes out and talks about its challenges to world," said COL Joe D. Bookard, REF Director. "AUSA is another forum for us to join these conversations and determine how best to support them through the urgent capability acquisition process."The REF often uses commercially available and government off-the-shelf technology to speed the equipping process. Because the REF is not limited to one solution or product, the team is constantly looking for improved products to address reoccurring or common capability gaps."Not only do we want to find the best available solutions for the warfighter, but we also share what we've learned with our stakeholders and senior Army leaders on our materiel development and recommendations for the future force," said SGM Jeffrey S. Updike, REF Sergeant Major.AUSA is the largest land power exposition and professional development event in the U.S., with over 700 exhibitors promoting a variety of industry products and services. Because of the sheer magnitude of the event, the REF's team of subject matter experts go in with a strategic approach. They know what to look for based on the organization's current initiatives, priorities, and future interest areas. From there, they narrow down the list of exhibits to visit then divide and conquer. Teams scout, research, assess, and report promising technology. A member of the REF is always there, from participating in vendor demonstrations and Army-led panel discussions, to attending leadership engagements and informing the broader audience about the REF's support to the warfighter.This year, the REF met with several vendors specializing in areas such as counter UAS, ground protection robotics, lasers, sensors, and tactical communication systems. During the three days at AUSA, the REF engaged with current industry partners and also networked with other industry leaders to forge new relationships. "We are always looking at ways to enhance Soldier readiness, and we actively seek out those who share the same vested interest as us -- to find the right solution at the right time to strengthen the U.S. Army fielded force," stated COL Bookard.The REF also learned about new technologies and concepts presented by smaller, start-up companies competing in the Army Expeditionary Technology Search and showcased at the Innovator's Corner. "Many of them displayed a great amount of innovation and talent," stated COL Bookard. "Vendors from small businesses often ask 'how can we work with the government and/or Department of Defense?' This competition could be a potential entry point for non-traditional defense companies we might not otherwise encounter. I look forward to seeing many of them becoming future partners."The REF supports priority equipping efforts over a wide range of challenges including subterranean operations, electronic warfare, unmanned and counter-unmanned aerial systems, intelligence, expeditionary force protection, air and ground robotics, and virtual training.