But it's not an easy way to get the latest kit, according to the force's director.
"Here is how my requirements come in, which I think is pretty interesting," Col. Lanier Ward, the outgoing REF director, told defense reporters Tuesday.
"Sgt. Jones out at [Forward Operating Base] Lightning in Afghanistan -- if he has a problem, he says, 'I really need to be able to talk to a patrol on the other side of that hill ... I really need something that can get between me and this mountain to talk to that patrol.
"He can do a 10-liner; he types up a 10-liner, sends it here, and we got the requirement."
This works great as long as it checks out with Jones' leadership, Ward said.
"What we find is, about 50 percent of the time, they are like, 'Really? You can help with that? Well, it's not just Sgt. Jones; we have that problem in three other areas over here,' " Ward said.
"Or the other 50 percent of the time, to be frank, it's, 'Do not give that to Sgt. Jones. He saw some neat kit in the dining facility, and he's trying to schmooze you to get it.' "
The REF was stood up after 9/11 to bypass the Army's normal acquisition system and equip troops in the war zone with special gear as quickly as possible.
"I'm looking to get something into the soldier's hand within 180 days," Ward said.
If a 10-liner request checks out, "I have a packet sitting in front of me for validation" in two weeks, he said.
But in his two years at the REF, Ward said he has seen "some people that have business models that say, 'Hey, Unit X. All you have to do is submit a 10-liner and they will give it to you.'
"In many cases, the 10-liners that come in, nine times out of 10, if it starts with 'I want this piece of kit,' then that is a redo. Go back and tell me what capability gap that we are trying to [close]," Ward said.
He added that 10-liners don't always come from the enlisted ranks.
"The highest one that I denied came from a division commander," he said.
The request was not an urgent requirement, Ward said, chuckling. He would not reveal who the request came from.
"We take it very seriously, the authorities that have been granted to us," Ward said. "I can't fix all of the Army's shortfalls."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.