Procurement: January 27, 2005


The U.S. Army is issuing more equipment that the troops have been buying with their own money. Ever since the Internet became widely available a decade ago, the troops have been sharing notes more quickly. Troops have always bought superior commercial equipment, usually from camping and hunting suppliers. And a lot more of that gear has been available in the last decade. Because the word gets around so quickly via the net, useful new gear is quickly purchased by thousands of troops. After September 11, 2001, with a war on, having the best gear was seen by more troops as a matter of life and death, rather than just more comfort when out in the field. Noting this trend, and not wishing to get hit with a public relations disaster, the army has been tracking which commercial items are most popular, running them through some quick tests to make sure they are the real deal, and then buying large quantities and issuing them to the troops. This saves soldiers lots of money, and gets gear out there which is already soldier approved. Often, individual divisions and brigades will use their special Rapid Fielding Initiative funds to buy this stuff, which puts more pressure on the army to buy it for everyone. This process has also speeded up the introduction of equipment that the army itself is developing. For example, the new Kevlar helmet, first developed by SOCOM (Special Operations Command), became a popular item with any troops who used them. Now the Advanced Combat Helmet is being widely issued. 


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