March 1, 2013  

Rapid responding

To the Army for working to move the Rapid Equipping Force into the base budget.

Army acquisition has taken its lumps in recent years — among other things, for wasting more than $3 billion annually on programs that were ultimately canceled — but the Rapid Equipping Force has been the model of success for front-line troops.

Created in 2002 to help battlefield commanders get the innovative gear they needed to face evolving situations — and quickly enough that the gear was still needed by the time it reached the field — the REF has been funded almost exclusively through OCO, or the overseas contingency operations account (né “the emergency wartime supplemental”). Shifting REF funding into the base budget (né “the budget”) gives the program a secure place in future spending plans.

No one expects that the coming fights will be predictable; having an Army acquisition team that can adjust as quickly as the enemy is a must.