Rapid Equipping Force Gets New Chief

After nearly three years at the helm of the Army’s groundbreaking Rapid Equipping Force, Col. Pete Newell retired earlier this month, leaving the shop as it prepares to transition from relying on war time funding accounts to assuming a place in the DoD’s base budget, currently scheduled to happen in 2015.

While Newell has said that he’s heading first to the Naval Post Graduate School to help with a study on the future of rapid innovation in the military, and then on to the tech industry, no immediate successor was named to his REF post.

But Defense News has learned that the Ft. Belvoir-based REF is finally getting a new boss in mid-July. Col. Steven Sliwa, currently serving on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, will take over as the command continues to push technologies to forward deployed units around the globe.

Col. Sliva previously commanded the 210th Fires Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed in South Korea. During his time there the unit was awarded the Army Superior Unit Award in part for its actions in response to the Nov. 23, 2010 attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island by North Korean artillery.

The North fired about 170 shells that day, killing two civilians and two South Korean marines, while injuring another 18 people.

In a June 2012 Stars & Stripes story, a 2ID spokesman said that  “we can say [the unit] quickly established firing capability, uploaded 100 percent of its pre-positioned authorized combat load of multiple launch rocket system ammunition, uploaded missile essential equipment, and deployed counter-fire radars and launchers.”

In recent months, Newell has outlined the ways in which the REF is looking beyond Afghanistan by sending staff to the Pacific theater to work with troops there, and with Special Forces units in Africa to better understands what they might need as operations intensify there.

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Paul McLeary

McLeary covers national security policies at the White House, Pentagon, the Hill, and State Department.
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