To facilitate adaptation and innovation at the point of need, the REF developed and deployed containerized "Expeditionary Labs" to Afghanistan and Kuwait. These labs are staffed by engineers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and REF non-commissioned officers. Not only are the able to solve challenges at the point of need, the staff has reachback support to their entire Army problem-solving community.
On many occasions, ExLab has been able to provide downrange forces with rapidly prototyped solutions.
The REF must maintain a clear understanding of the operating environment to successfully provide rapid solutions. Therefore, REF military personnel, subject matter experts and engineers deploy to forward operating centers where they work hand-in-hand with Soldiers on the ground. REF deployed its first forward teams to Afghanistan in November 2002 and, since 2003, REF has consistently maintained a presence there. REF forward teams execute the following essential duties: