Logistics: April 15, 2005

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The U.S. Armys rapid fielding initiative (RFI) is a program that allows commanders to go out and buy equipment, and even weapons, immediately, without going through the usual lengthily acquisition process. The army began doing this in the 1990s, based on decades of success by Special Forces with a similar approach. But this has put over 200 new technologies into Iraq, and there will probably be 300 new systems over the next year or so. The primary problem with RFI is getting repairs and spare parts for the new gear. When the army officially accepts equipment into service, it makes spare parts available through the army supply system, and trains soldiers to do the maintenance. With RFI gear, the users have to go direct to the manufacturer for spares and repairs. Sometimes, civilian technicians will be flown to the combat zone. But more often, army technicians will get in touch with the manufacturer and get advice on how to make the repairs themselves. If possible, broken equipment will be sent back to the factory. The army does this itself, sending all sorts of gear back to army maintenance depots. These are usually run and staffed by civilians. While its more work to maintain the RFI gear, this helps by making it easier to drop RFI items that dont perform up to expectations. The RFI gear really has to deliver the goods if the troops are going to put up with the additional maintenance burdens.

 


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