SEOUL — The 8th U.S. Army began issuing new equipment to its soldiers this week as part of the Rapid Fielding Initiative.

Soldiers will be issued personal uniform items such as the “new advanced combat helmet, ballistic spectacles and the hydration system,” along with additional individual and unit equipment, according to an 8th Army news release.

The initiative grew out of lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, the release said. In 2002, the Program Executive Office was directed to develop a plan to “remedy equipment deficiencies.”

“The RFI fielding concept, which began in November 2002, aggressively modernizes individual and small unit equipment in a matter of weeks and months instead of years,” the release stated.

According to the release, the new equipment issue is a transformation measure to better prepare soldiers “for training and combat operations while enhancing our mission of deterrence in the Republic of Korea.”

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