Kicking off the 2019 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on Tuesday, 21 May, were General Richard D. Clarke, the new Commanding General of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and James H. Smith, SES, USSOCOM’s long-standing Acquisition Executive.

General Clarke said that U.S. military advantages vis-a-vis state actors have eroded of late. “They are clearly closing some of the gaps that we enjoyed in all domains and this is a change.” Information warfare is one area of particular concern.

General Clarke outlined his five USSOCOM priorities, just promulgated:
(1) Compete and win for the nation – protect our interest and address today’s challenges.
(2) Preserve and Grow readiness – the right people, skills, and training to maximize our competitive edge.
(3) Innovate for Future Threats – relentlessly build the competitive advantage.
(4) Advance partnerships – create opportunities through our unique global understanding and placement.
(5) Strengthen our Force and Family – solemnly commit to the short and long term well-being of our SOF family.

Paraphrasing the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s assertion that “legacy systems are irrelevant to the defense of our people” General Clarke asked industry to provide leap ahead products and services to SOCOM in areas including signature reduction and countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He mentioned SOCOM’s new Hyper Enabled Operator (HEO) quest — “to get the right information to the right person at the right time” and the application of technology to enhance warfighter effectiveness.

USSOCOM acquisition tsar Jim Smith also borrowed from the National Defense Strategy and talked about “Building a More Lethal Force” and “Reforming SOF Acquisition.”

USSOCOM’s efforts to build a more lethal force to achieve military advantage will be focused on the following priorities:

  • Next Generation ISR to find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze, faster and with improved accuracy.
  • Next Generation Mobility – increased survivability, increased speed and range, alternate precision, navigation, and timing
  • Precision Fires & Effects – want a multi-launch missile (air, marine, land vehicles and man-portable), loitering munitions with increased ranges and low collateral precision strike.
  • Data & Networks – computing at the edge, connectivity anywhere with anyone, embedded multimodal data discovery, machine-assisted decision-making, automatically discover, know, anticipate, and observe.
  • Biotechnology – human systems integration, enhanced performance/rest/recovery, wearable biomedical monitoring systems.
  • Ready Equipment – SOF support activity includes Global Logistics Support Services (GLSS) with a 35% set-aside for small business.
  • Ready Force – Preservation of the Force and Family, Joint Special Operations University.

Reforming SOF Acquisition – Among the elements that USSOCOM is employing to reform SOF acquisition are:

  • Utilizing both traditional FBO approaches, SOFWERX, and Other Transactional Agreements (OTAs).
  • Taking advantage of “Middle Tier Acquisitions” – via Rapid Prototyping programs for initiatives including Precision Strike System, Mid-Range Gas Gun, Lightweight Machine Gun.
  • Focusing on the Information Domain – SOCOM is starting to focus on industry providing not only platforms but also C4ISR but… SOCOM needs to own the data that it gets from industry.

In a Tuesday afternoon session, Lisa Sanders, USSOCOM Director of Science & Technology (S&T), identified the following (four) S&T Capability Focus Areas and (two) Cross-Cutting Technology areas:

  • Next Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Tactically Relevant Situational Awareness – POC is Dr. Conrad Lovell (conrad.lovell.civ@socom.mil)
  • Network and Data Management – POC is Jamilla Patterson (jamila.patterson@socom.mil)
  • Biotechnologies/Human Interface – POC is Douglas Simpson (douglas.simpson@socom.mil)
  • Next Generation Effects/Precision Strike – POC is Jack Plessinger (jack.plessinger@darpa.mil)
  • Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF) Hyper-Enabled Operator (HEO) – POC is Alex Maccalman (alex.maccalman@socom.mil)
  • Next Generation Mobility – POC is James Griffin (james.griffin@socom.mil)