Rapid Equipping Force

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The Rapid Equipping Force (REF) is a U.S. Army organization charged with providing Army units deployed globally with specialized and specific capabilities (materiel) quickly in order to affect the outcome of wars and battles. The REF focuses on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or government off-the-shelf (GOTS) solutions, as well as some rapid prototyping, in order to get capabilities into the Warfighters’ hands as quick as possible, while observing Army and United States Department of Defense acquisition laws and regulations. The REF is a Staff Support Agency under the Army G-3/5/7, Headquarters, Department of the Army and is located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The original vision of the REF was to serve as an operational organization with significant acquisition activity that could insert immediate technology solutions into Iraq and Afghanistan under the auspices of increasing force protection, situational awareness, and lethality. The REF works toward providing real-time solutions to current combat challenges by canvassing the military, industry, academia and science communities for existing and emerging technologies tied directly to immediate Warfighters' needs. Additionally, the REF works to facilitate the early deployment of Army-managed solutions to meet emerging requirements.

The REF operates to "bridge the gap" between the formal acquisition process and a more refined and streamlined process. Also, the REF bridges the capability gap between a piece of equipment needed immediately for a specific purpose, and the Army's more long-term solution to a wider equipment need. Ultimately, the REF impacts the fight by providing immediate solutions for identified capability gaps in a relevant timeframe until the formal acquisition process is able to field enduring solutions.


In November 2002, the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army created the Rapid Equipping Force as a unique, singular organization designed to address an Army-wide, systemic deficiency in providing immediate technology solutions to deployed and pre-deploying forces for Operation Enduring Freedom. The REF was created after a successful, rapid technology insertion of robots in Afghanistan.

Some systems developedby the REF[edit]

  • PackBot: Remote-Controlled, full sensor package capable tracked vehicle.
  • PocketTerp: iPaq modification allows user to prerecord translations for specific phases with voice print recorded that can be recalled.
  • Magnetometer: Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) ultra-sensitive metal detecting wand.
  • Lock Shims: Small hand-held lock picking devices, used by Soldiers to gain entry into premises to conduct searches, without actually breaking the lock of the door.
  • Wellcam: Complete man-portable video system to search wells.
  • Armor Kit: 4-door vehicle protection kit.
  • PILAR: Acoustically based, fully passive system that determines sniper fire direction on LCD screen.
  • Sand Flea: Small 4-wheeled robot capable of accurately jumping over 30ft tall obstacles. Used to jump over walls, take images of surroundings then head home.

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