Providing Weapons and Equipment So Soldiers Can Accomplish Their Missions

By Bolton, Claude M., Jr. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Providing Weapons and Equipment So Soldiers Can Accomplish Their Missions


Bolton, Claude M., Jr., Army


Acquisition, Logistics and Technology

The Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (AL&T) organization is responsible for providing the weapon systems and equipment that enable soldiers to accomplish their missions successfully and return home safely. This responsibility has taken on even greater importance as we work to rapidly field equipment to protect U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all our efforts-current and future-we have our vision, mission and goals to guide us. They are our foundation in these challenging times.

The AL&T vision is to equip and sustain the world's most capable, powerful and respected Army. Our mission is to effectively and efficiently develop, acquire, field and sustain materiel by leveraging domestic, organic, commercial and foreign technologies and capabilities to meet the Army's current and future mission requirements. The goal is to deliver to the soldier the right capabilities at the right time, the right place and at the right price.

As the Army continues to wage the global war on terrorism, AL&T continues to improve its acquisition and fielding processes and keep its focus on programs, people, production and improvement.

One of AL&T's great success stories is the Stryker vehicle. It took just four years from broad concept to deployment. The Stryker's rapid fielding demonstrates the Army's ability to meet a combatant commander's urgent needs. On December 3, 2003, the Army's first Stryker brigade combat team (SBCT)-more than 1,000 vehicles, including more than 300 Strykers and more than 3,500 soldiers-crossed the Iraqi border from Kuwait. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, known as the "Arrowhead Brigade," deployed from Fort Lewis, Wash., to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This spring, the Army's 2nd SBCT at Fort Lewis became operational.

The rapid fielding initiative (RFI) ensures that all components-active and reserve-deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan with the latest available equipment. In coordination with field commanders and soldiers, RFI now provides soldiers with more than 40 mission-essential equipment and clothing items, including the advanced combat helmet and accessories, knee and elbow pads, close-combat optics, hydration systems and much more. Five thousand sets of RFI equipment are air-shipped each week for in-theater issue to units in Iraq. RFI has equipped more than 120,000 soldiers as of September 2004. In addition, we are accelerating the fielding of select future capabilities, including thermal weapon sights, enhanced night-vision goggles and the future combat rifle.

The Army also has rapid equipping force (REF) teams that work directly with operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to find promising technology solutions to identified operational requirements. These solutions may be off-the-shelf or near-term developmental items that can be made available quickly. These items may be as sophisticated as the rapid aerostat initial deployment, a 360-degree surveillance device suspended from an aerostat balloon or atop a tower, or something as inexpensive as shims that enable soldiers searching for weapons in Iraq to nondestructively open padlocks. There are many items, including the WeIl-CAM, a remote video system that enables soldiers to search for weapons in wells and other inaccessible areas, and the PackBot, an unmanned ground vehicle used to clear caves, bunkers and compounds that keep soldiers from being unnecessarily put in harm's way. Each PackBot destroyed is a soldier's life saved. The REF also works hand-in-hand with the Improvised Explosive Device Task Force (IED TF) to mitigate the effects of IEDs. Together, their teams in O1F and Operation Enduring Freedom are conducting analysis and training soldiers in counler-IED tactics, techniques and procedures.

Soldier protection is paramount. Interceptor body armor (IBA), which includes an outer tactical vest plus either the small-arms protective inserts or slightly heavier plates made from Kevlar or similar products, provides the best individual ballistic protection, available in the world.

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Providing Weapons and Equipment So Soldiers Can Accomplish Their Missions
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