The commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, needed equipment for his unit’s imminent deployment to the rugged terrain and harsh climate of Afghanistan. It was critical that AT&L move quickly to assess the warfighters’ needs and rapidly field the necessary equipment. The program manager worked directly with the brigade commander to prepare a list of needed equipment, and the Rapid Fielding Initiative was born. The result was to get thousands of articles of mission-essential equipment to deploying units in a matter of weeks and months instead of the traditional years. RFI also provided training and logistical support for the new equipment before the troops deployed. Since then, RFI has served as a catalyst for subsequent units deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Certain RFI supplies have been exceptionally effective in enhancing military might, including:
Thermal Weapons Sights. These were the only devices that could cut through the infamous Iraqi sandstorms to provide visibility when the storms blinded nearly every imaginable sensor and weapon platform. As a result, U.S. forces “owned the night.”
Interceptor Body Armor. Made from ceramic plates, this armor increased soldiers’ protection from exploding fragments, shrapnel, and rifle-fired ammunition, saving dozens of soldiers’ lives.
Military Operations in Urban Terrain Kits. Adapted from traditional firefighting equipment, these kits provided a rapid solution when the 101st Airborne Division fought in Iraqi cities and villages.