By Summer BarkleyAugust 29, 2011
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan--The Rapid Fielding Initiative storefront for Bagram Airfield relocated to a larger and better equipped facility on the Warrior compound in July and has been serving satisfied customers daily since then.
The storefront and nearby warehouse provide initial issue and theater specific items for Soldiers such as uniforms, cold weather gear, and RFI specific items including eyewear kits, body armor and advanced combat helmets. They also provide initial issue of theater specific items including Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniforms and mountain combat boots.
The RFI program falls under Program Executive Officer Soldier and Program Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment and is supported by 401st Army Field Support Brigade for life support and logistics needs. The 401st AFSB is part of Army Sustainment Command's global network that leverages Army Materiel Command's Materiel Enterprise to field, sustain and redistribute property for U.S. and coalition forces.
"This is 'way better' than the old location," said Staff Sgt. Andrea R. Lewis, 1st Military Intelligence Battalion, Task Force Condor. "There's space to accommodate the manpower needed to issue the equipment."
Lewis had just finished pushing her shopping cart from station to station to draw equipment for Soldiers in her unit.
"The stations make it easier to issue equipment," said Joseph Fontenot, Jr., RFI lead. "Not everybody needs the same things."
"It's a centralized, smooth process," said Master Sgt. Jason S. Manicke, 1st MI BN, TF Condor. "I came in and within 20 minutes, its mission complete."
The old facility could only accommodate four or five Soldiers at a time and others had to wait outside, said Fontenot. At the previous facility the staff could issue gear to about 125 Soldiers per day while the new facility layout and space allows for issue to up to 300 Soldiers every day Fontenot added. Also, there was very limited storage space which meant some high-demand items and sizes might have to be restocked from storage containers during the day.
"We can bring them [Soldiers] in, sit them down, offer them a cool drink and they can relax [while waiting for gear issue]," said Nelson Adorno, OCONUS fielder. "They don't have to wait in the cold, snow or heat -- it's a regular shopping experience."
Sgt. Michael R. Land, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troop Battalion agreed that the new location is more convenient and lets Soldiers go through quicker. He was accompanying a Soldier who was drawing OCP equipment.
"Soldiers don't have to lug so much gear on the planes," said Sgt. Marvin H. Carey, HHC, 3BSBT. "They can get it here in theater."
Fontenot said there is better property accountability and when the Soldiers come in to draw their own equipment, they sign for it which reduces the workloads for unit supply sergeants.