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Notes from the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (14 May 2013)

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Tampa, Florida

In contrast to other recent defense industry conferences, this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) appears packed with operators and industry representatives who seem to believe that SOF forces may represent a relatively safe haven from the budget cuts currently buffeting the sector.

Indeed, some 336 companies are touting their products and services to some 7,000 attendees via some 87,500 square feet of Convention Center display space that DSJ is told was sold out in week's time.  (300 companies were on the waiting list.)  A standing room-only opening session crowd heard SOCOM’s outgoing Acquisition Executive James Cluck relate that: 

  • SOCOM last year exceeded virtually all of its lofty goals for small business contracts / utilization and this will remain an emphasis.
  • The reorganization of its budget accounts into 45% fewer (RDT&E and Procurement) budget lines means that SOCOM will have greater flexibility to move funding within accounts without reprogramming requiring Congressional approval.
  • Declining RDT&E funding ahead means that SOCOM must change its business model in order to encourage industry to invest internally in the R&D that SOCOM will need in the future.  CRADAs are a good tool for doing this, and SOCOM has more than ever.
  • Declining funds represent a “real opportunity” because the less money we have the more innovative we become.”

 

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