COURTESY OF USSOCOM (EDITED FOR STYLE AND LENGTH)
Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (SOF AT&L), part of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), ensures special operations forces (SOF) have the equipment and services required for them to complete missions across the globe. SOF AT&L is organized into program executive offices (PEO) and directorates. The PEOs include Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4); Fixed Wing; Maritime; Rotary Wing; Services; SOF Support Activity; Special Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Exploitation (SRSE); and SOF Warrior. The Directorates include Acquisition Comptroller, Agility, Resources, Operations, Procurement, Logistics, and Science and Technology.
SOF AT&L provides full life-cycle management by seamlessly developing technologies within the Science and Technology Directorate, to producing and fielding that technology in programs of record through the PEOs, and finally to sustainment and eventual divestiture through the Logistics Directorate.
SOF AT&L is manned by military and civilian personnel from all four military services. While SOF AT&L is co-located with SOCOM headquarters on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, SOF acquisition professionals also serve at military installations globally.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DIRECTORATE
The Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s vision is to “Relentlessly discover, develop, adapt and employ next-generation technologies that provide SOF an overwhelming competitive advantage.” S&T priorities are aligned with the SOCOM commander’s Capabilities and Programming Guidance (CPG). The current CPG builds on the 2018 National Defense Strategy and SOF Future Operating Environment. S&T is focusing research efforts on the following six capability focus areas:
- Biotechnologies/Human Interface: Focuses on biomedical, human performance, and man-machine interface technology development efforts to support the SOF medical community. Additionally, SOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Family (POTTFF) program and SOF AT&L focus on integrating human considerations with and across all system elements to optimize SOF operator performance.
- Hyper Enabled Operator: Focuses on improving the speed and quality of operator decision-making by providing the benefits of advanced data analytics at the edge in contested and denied environments.
- Network and Data Management: Focuses on enabling SOF through enhanced decision-making and reduced cognitive loading by driving advanced data analytics to the tactical edge, while ensuring connectivity for communications and navigation in contested or denied areas.
- Next Generation Effects/Precision Strike: Focuses on enhancing SOF lethality and ensuring dominance in denied and future operating environments by developing technology, scalable effects weapons, and cyber/electronic attack effects with increased range.
- Next Generation Mobility: Focuses on advancing technology solutions for air, ground, and maritime mobility.
- Next Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Tactically Relevant Situational Awareness: Focuses on increasing and enhancing SOF’s ability to manage threats and the environment through the development of cutting-edge, autonomous ISR systems in order to maintain a competitive military advantage, reduce operative cognitive load, and support rapid, on-the-move ability to learn and communicate knowledge in all domains.
S&T must continue to strengthen relationships with Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories; federally funded research and development centers; and university-affiliated research centers, academia, and industry in order to leverage their larger efforts against SOCOM S&T priorities. S&T’s Strategic Engagement process seeks to discover new technologies, reduce redundancies, gain efficiencies, and synchronize long-range future planning to enable SOF to maintain an operational advantage.
SOF must continually engage in market research that is strategic, insightful, and actionable, and is launching a new platform known as Engage SOF (eSOF) to achieve this. The eSOF program will replace the Technology Industry Liaison Office and provide responsive, accessible, and transparent strategic market research across the global SOF enterprise. The primary purpose of eSOF is to facilitate USSOCOM communications, connections, and collaboration with industry on capabilities, ideas, and solutions for SOCOM’s areas of interest. Information gained from industry, academia, and other government agencies will shape acquisition strategies across the SOF enterprise thereby enhancing the efficient transition of emerging or needed technologies, products, and services in support of the SOF warfighter.
Technical Experimentation (TE)
S&T conducts TE events throughout the year, each with different themes. TE events offer multiple venues to rapidly assess, develop, counter, and exploit emerging capabilities to address immediate SOF needs. TE events also allow industry, academia and other external organizations the opportunity to engage and demonstrate technology and concepts and get direct feedback from SOF and acquisition professionals. TE 20-3 will take place in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020 at the RELLIS Campus of Texas A&M University in Bryan, Texas. The theme of TE 20-3 will be network and data management.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
S&T manages SOCOM’s SBIR/STTR program. The objective is to stimulate technology innovation by awarding contracts to small businesses to meet federal research and development needs. SBIR/STTR topics are released in April, August and November. Leading the way to reform, SOCOM has been granted authority to utilize a program intermediary agreement to execute a portion of the command’s SBIR funding. SOCOM will leverage this authority to; a) reach technology developers who are unwilling or unable to do business through standard DOD business channels, and b) speed the time required to move from concept to technology fielding.
S&T employs its Futures team as SOCOM’s high-risk, highreward technology investigator and incubator. Futures looks for high-risk, innovative, and disruptive technologies seven to 15 years in the future to provide an asymmetric advantage against peer or near-peer adversaries’ capabilities. Investigation occurs by conducting Innovation Foundry, Rapid Capability Assessment, and Tech Sprint events. From these, Futures aggressively derives concept required capabilities and mission essential technologies top-down from the National Defense Strategy, CPG, and SOCOM’s Future Operating Concept. Futures embraces a high-velocity decision-making approach that gets to answers – yes or no – quickly. Additionally, Futures targets nontraditional partners who are more open to agile, high-speed tech sprints or thinking outside the box.
Sharing Technology Needs
S&T provides multiple means of sharing SOCOM’s technology needs with the public. SOCOM’s “SOF hard problems” (e.g., small unit dominance, mission assured communications, and signature management) and FY 20 S&T investment priorities are listed online for public awareness under the “Doing Business” dropdown at: https://www.socom.mil/SOF-ATL/Pages/SOFATL.aspx
ACQUISITION AGILITY DIRECTORATE
To support continued emphasis on innovation, SOCOM established a venue called SOFWERX, an unclassified, open collaboration activity designed to bring nontraditional partners from industry, academia, and the government together to work on SOCOM’s most challenging problems. Established under a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) between SOCOM and DefenseWERX, the SOFWERX facility serves as an incubator for innovative thinking and provides a venue for exploring novel ideas with nontraditional partners. SOF AT&L’s Acquisition Agility directorate is responsible for coordinating SOCOM’s collaboration with SOFWERX.
SOFWERX serves as an easy access point to SOCOM for an ecosystem of more than 40,000 members from new businesses, small businesses, technology collaboration hubs, and nontraditional partners. The SOFWERX facility is located off base and conducts design thinking sessions, technology sprints, rapid prototyping, and other events with government, academia, and industry experts. Major events hosted in 2019 at SOFWERX include the following:
February 2020 – FOSOV Autonomous and Automated Ground Mobility Capability Collaboration Event (CCE)
SOFWERX hosted SOCOM PEO SOF Warrior and 44 enterprise teammates from the Family of Special Operations Vehicles enterprise at an Autonomous and Automated Ground Mobility CCE. The event explored tactical, SOF autonomy, and automation ground mobility zero to five-year gaps, analyzed and defined future concepts, and prioritized operational use cases which will be used to develop future SOF autonomous and automated ground mobility requirements.
July/November 2019 – PEO-Rotary Wing Next Generation Cockpit
SOFWERX hosted SOCOM PEO Rotary Wing and 65 enterprise teammates for a CCE and Industry Demonstration Day to inform requirements for the next generation of special operations aviation cockpit hardware and software in legacy and future vertical lift platforms. Its purpose was to ensure state-of-the-art technology was considered for future cockpit management solutions, including open systems architecture as well as heads-down, heads-up, and helmet-mounted displays. The event also enabled SOCOM to identify technology that could potentially increase aviator capability from the cockpit. Attendees submitted more than 50 technologies and incentives. Insights gained helped shape requirements for a future capability assessment event. Additionally, SOCOM selected eight companies to demonstrate their full cockpit capabilities to more than 30 government representatives. SOCOM also selected 20 independent capabilities to showcase at an exposition.
August 2019 – SOAR Helmet System Capability Assessment Event (CAE)
SOFWERX hosted PEO SOF Warrior and partners for a CAE to identify current and near-future-state rotary wing helmets for consideration and potential use by the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command to replace the existing HGU-56/P helmet system. SOCOM selected eight companies to present their capabilities to government representatives during one-on-one sessions. Based on those sessions, SOCOM will select the top candidates to move forward with potential fielding.
August 2019 – Joint Acquisition Agility Summit
In collaboration with SOCOM, SOFWERX hosted a Joint Acquisition Agility Summit (JAAS) to bring together SOF AT&L agreements officers and program managers alongside other acquisition professionals in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Attendees participated in a solutions based, design thinking approach to identify best practices for expediency and efficiency in executing Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) and other nonfederal acquisition regulation based authorities.
June/August 2019 – Offline Language Translation Tool CCE
SOFWERX, in collaboration with SOCOM, hosted an Offline Language Translation Tool CCE. The purpose of the event was to identify current limitations and ways to overcome limitations for offline translation devices, or Android based applications available and/ or can be readily available to provide near real-time translations of incoming audio to English audio and/or text. The desired end state is a tool that provides a stand-alone, offline, non-cloud-based capability.
May 2019 – Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) CAE
SOFWERX, in collaboration with SOCOM, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defense, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center, hosted a CWMD CAE to identify CWMD technologies relevant to today’s challenges. Out of 191 submissions, 34 companies were selected to present 44 capabilities to government representatives during one-on-one sessions.
Agreements and negotiations are ongoing with the respective government organizations.
PEO ROTARY WING
PEO Rotary Wing (RW) equips the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (160th SOAR(A)) with the most advanced, lethal weapons systems available. RW’s purpose is to ensure these soldiers receive overmatch capabilities and robust support. To guarantee the 160th SOAR(A) maintain readiness and an advantage against all threats in all operating environments, RW is recapitalizing its aircraft, integrating lethality and survivability upgrades, and looking toward the future of SOF vertical lift.
Collaborating with the Technology Applications Program Office at Fort Eustis, Virginia, Systems Integration Management Office at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Product Manager SOF Training Systems in Orlando, Florida, the RW enterprise successfully develops, delivers, and sustains the 160th SOAR(A)’s RW systems. Recent highlights have included the following:
- The light assault/attack A/MH-6M Little Bird (LB) Program Management Office (PMO) continued block upgrade development and testing that will recapitalize the LB fleet. This modification improves aircraft performance and situational awareness in the cockpit.
- The medium assault MH-60M Blackhawk PMO continued the Block 1 modification. This modification increases payload availability, increases reliability for the users, and provides better situational awareness for aircrews
- The heavy assault MH-47G Chinook PMO awarded several major contracts to ramp up the MH-47G Block II Renew program that will recapitalize the heavy assault fleet.
- SOCOM’s acquisition executive approved full rate production for the Silent Knight Radar (SKR) program. The SKR program will enter into a three-year multiyear procurement contract in 2021, increasing lethality by accelerating fielding within the current budget profile. SKR provides SOF aircrews with a common terrain following/terrain avoidance capability.
- The Mission Equipment PMO continued development, testing, and integration of the Degraded Visual Environment Pilotage System (DVEPS) on the MH-60M and MH-47G. DVEPS fuses information from aircraft sensors with terrain elevation data to display real-time reference points, obstacles, and landing zone information to the aviator, providing aircrews situational awareness during all phases of flight and significantly increasing aircrew and passenger survivability.
RW aligns its efforts with the National Defense Strategy by prioritizing delivery of more lethal, capable, survivable, and innovative weapons systems. The strategy also directs improvement and reform of business practices as a method to achieve greater warfighter lethality. This remains a complex problem, requiring industry and RW to collaborate in new, innovative ways. RW is interested in creative solutions from industry partners that:
- Increase speed of responding to requests for proposal, reduce unproductive portions of procurement lead-time, and reduce lead times for weapon system procurement.
- Maximize collaboration with industry using cooperative research and development agreements.
- Integrate with the services to pursue future rotary-wing capabilities, to include supporting future vertical lift development.
- Offer ways to hyper-enable aircrews through integrating federated, complementary systems to aid in rapid decisive decisionmaking (i.e. How can we make what we have more effective?).
RW and industry must work together to increase responsiveness and relevancy by “moving at the speed of SOF,” in order to ensure the 160th SOAR(A) warriors are prepared for what they will confront on tomorrow’s battlefield.
PEO FIXED WING
PEO Fixed Wing (FW) delivers special operations manned and unmanned fixed-wing airpower capabilities. Overall, FW executed more than $2.4 billion in FY 2019 to develop, deliver, and sustain FW intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), strike, and mobility weapons systems in direct support of SOF operations worldwide. FW delivery of revolutionary ISR assets, MC-130J and AC-130J recapitalization, lethal munitions, and advanced technology ensures SOF mission success today and through tomorrow’s fight worldwide.
Find: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
The Airborne ISR team fields and maintains a fleet of ISR manned and unmanned aerial systems. The manned aircraft include the U-28, MC-12 Javaman, DHC-8, and King Air aircraft. The unmanned platforms include the MQ-1C, MQ-9, and several variants of Group 1-3 systems.
The MC-130J recapitalization program adds SOF capabilities to the service-common aircraft. Three mission systems provide electronic warfare, increased communications, terrain following radar, and enhanced situational awareness. The special mission processor ingests data from across the network for aircrew display, executing automated functions and increasing overall system performance. These integrated mission systems enhance MC-130J capabilities to conduct dynamic air-refueling, airdrop, insertion, extraction, and resupply missions under challenging conditions.
The CV-22 is also undergoing updates with the terrain following radar, a color helmet-mounted display, and enhanced situational awareness capabilities.
The integrated strike program leads AC-130J recapitalization efforts, which include the addition of an advanced precision-strike package to provide close-air support and precision fire capability in both electronic warfare and degraded weather environments. Additionally, technology advancements over the past year in legacy AC-130W gunships will continue to inform advancements in infrared suppression systems, missile warning systems, and helmet-mounted displays for potential application to the AC-130J, increasing crew efficiency and survivability. To aid in the AC-130J’s precision fire, stand-off precision-guided missiles work to deliver increased accuracy, reduced collateral damage, and the ability to hit static and moving targets while maintaining minimal visual and acoustic signature.
Finally, the integrated strike program leads the High Energy Laser (HEL) program, providing the first-ever offensive laser weapon system from a gunship. The HEL demonstrates a precision, scalable, low-kinetic weapon with the integration of “best-in-breed” subsystems.
Technology Insertion: Tomorrow’s Fight
PEO Fixed Wing supports the development of advanced technology sensors, defensive countermeasures, advanced avionics, and mission training systems. The Special Applications for Contingencies (SAFC) program develops and demonstrates enhanced sensors, payloads, datalinks, guidance/navigation upgrades, and airframe modifications to address capability gaps for Group 1-3 unmanned aerial systems supporting airborne ISR operations.
PEO Maritime is responsible for delivering cutting-edge undersea and surface technologies and capabilities to Naval Special Warfare Command. The key to each of the maritime mobility platforms is the Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams (SEALs) and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen. PEO Maritime is composed of five program offices that focus on the development, production, and sustainment of wet and dry submersibles, submarine-hosted Dry Deck Shelters (DDS), combat diving equipment, and a variety of surface craft.
The undersea systems enhance SEAL lethality by enabling increased mobility and payload capacity. DDS is an in-service program, which hosts the SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV). DDS is undergoing an extensive modernization to increase the payload capacity by 300 percent, increase the payload volume by 30 percent, and incorporate remote control capabilities. SDV is a legacy system that is incorporating enhancements to operator interfaces and additions to the number of payloads carried. A replacement to the SDV called the Shallow Water Combat Submersible (SWCS) is currently in production. Both SDV and SWCS are wet submersibles, requiring operators to be exposed to the environment while using an underwater breathing apparatus to conduct operations.
Joining the undersea fleet is the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS). DCS enables increased range and payload and protects SEALs from the undersea environment by encapsulating them within a one-atmosphere dry submersible shell. To prepare Naval Special Warfare for the delivery of SWCS and DCS, both programs have delivered production representative platforms to train operators, mitigate risk, and insert technology.
The surface fleet continues its extensive recapitalization effort, consisting of the Combatant Craft Assault (CCA), Combatant Craft Medium (CCM), and Combatant Craft Heavy (CCH) mobility platforms along with enhanced mission equipment technology to augment the platform capabilities. Development continues on a new maritime precision engagement system and will ultimately provide the entire combatant craft fleet with a standoff weapon capability. The CCA program achieved full operational capability in November 2019 with delivery of the final craft; a follow-on production contract targeting replacement of aging hulls is in development. The CCM remains in full-rate production, fielding an additional three boats to both East and West coast operational units. Both CCA and CCM platforms continue to deploy to operational theaters worldwide. The CCH maintains a forward-deployed presence on a rotational basis, with an additional craft in production.
The SOF combat diving program completes the maritime portfolio by developing and fielding SOF-peculiar (SOF-p) diving equipment that interfaces with all PEO Maritime platforms. A key component of the special operations mobility equation is the SOF-p capability required to deliver the combat diver. SOF combat diving focuses on the development of equipment in the areas of maritime environmental protection, diver navigation, propulsion, and communications while increasing operator effectiveness and efficiencies.
PEO SOF WARRIOR
PEO SOF Warrior (SW) is a joint staffed, multidiscipline organization chartered to provide state-of-the-art combat capabilities to SOF warfighters. Organized under subordinate program management offices, the PEO SW enterprise team cultivates an aggressive, risktaking culture among acquisition, financial, security, engineering, logistics, and contracting personnel. The team prides itself on the use of innovative acquisition strategies to accelerate delivery of capabilities. SOF Warrior planned and executed $2 billion toward the development, production, worldwide fielding, and sustainment of SOF-peculiar equipment supporting five SOCOM component commands to include special mission units and theater special operations commands.
PEO SOF Warrior continues to concentrate its efforts on acquiring a diverse range of combat and combat support, ISR, and next generation targeting capabilities for application in all environments. Recent highlights include the following:
Program Manager for Special Programs (PM-SP)
PEO SOF Warrior established the Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) Product Center and SOCOM’s TAK configuration steering board to manage further development and use of the Android-TAK (ATAK). TAK leverages commercial smartphones, servers, and existing radios with a government software core to create a secure, interoperable, tactical-level common operating picture. The TAK team, comprising members from SOCOM, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security, worked to produce unique products equipped with the latest commercial technologies for different user communities. For SOF users, the products aimed to enhance interoperability on the battlefield for coordination among ground troops, vehicles, supporting aircraft, and long-range fires in support of real-time combat maneuvers. The TAK configuration steering board was recognized for acquisition excellence and presented the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award in December 2019. The team’s efforts exemplify how a successful modern software development program that keeps pace with commercial innovation can have a game-changing impact on the warfighter to enhance combat operations.
Another key achievement was the establishment of the Next Generation Information and Awareness (NGIA) effort for innovative solution development, rapid prototyping, and initial fieldings using competitive yet flexible acquisition processes. SOF Warrior leveraged advanced commercial technologies in support of the Hyper Enabled Operator initiative and development of the light weight machine gun (LWMG), Nighthawk unmanned aerial system, .50-caliber polymer ammunition, and advanced fragmentation grenade. SOF Warrior’s NGIA effort also supported development and fielding of multi-functional and open-system architecture capabilities in surveillance and intelligence, electronic warfare, communications, cyber, unmanned aerial systems, and counter-unmanned aerial systems.
PM-Survival, Support and Equipment Systems (PM-SSES)
SOCOM awarded a $95 million, five-year indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity, contract (with an additional two-year option) to field the first-ever purpose-built coxswain helmet to support the Naval Special Warfare community. This system provides a significant weight reduction over legacy systems as well as the addition of ballistic and non-ballistic maxillofacial and ballistic eye protection.
PEO SOF Warrior, through PM-SSES, also received the SPEAR Maritime Body Armor Vest (MARBAV) and the Jumpable Plate Carrier (JPC) for fielding and deployment. MARBAV and JPC provide significant advancements over previous versions including reduced water retention, reduced weight, and increased comfort. Additionally, SOCOM has incorporated improvements to tactical medical capabilities within the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) program, including the new XSTAT 12 hemorrhage control device. This device is designed to treat life-threatening bleeding from penetrating wounds in areas difficult to access (i.e. junction areas). New enhancements to TCCC medical capabilities also include improved chest decompression needed to better provide treatment of tension pneumothorax, a life-threatening condition that can occur with chest trauma.
PM-Naval Special Warfare Special Programs (PM-NSW-SP)
PEO SOF Warrior, through PM-NSW-SP, fielded SOCOM’s new small-arms battle rifle with two upper receiver groups, in two different calibers, enabling individual users to tailor the weapon for mission requirements. PEO SOF Warrior also fielded a modular combat pistol designed to allow a SOF operator to deploy with various optics, laser, and light combinations as well as the ability to change between various-sized grip/frame modules and barrel lengths.
Additionally, PM-NSW-SP has initiated development of a device that will provide signals to tactical communications equipment in GPS-denied environments. This device or Position Navigation and Timing (PNT PUCK) will provide an operator transiting on foot PNT signals to tactical communications equipment in a tiered approach. The program office conducted several design analysis reviews with industry engineers and end-users to inform and manage size, weight, and power as well as form factor options. The design analysis events helped engineering teams design a device that can be seamlessly integrated into current load-bearing vests and pouches with minimal impact to the current equipment configuration for users.
Finally, PM-NSW-SP is in the third year of development for a Maritime Demolition Initiation System (MDIS). This project was initiated in fiscal year 2018 to answer the capability gap of a reliable waterproof initiation system. MDIS is leveraging lessons learned from previously fielded devices, such as reliability, cost, performance, shelf life, and versatility. The project is using the information to develop a next generation modular firing device. Two of the most commonly used initiators will be combined to make one and reduce life-cycle costs as a result. In fiscal year 2019, multiple design iterations and reviews were held with the end-users, which led to some significant design changes intended to increase the safety of the system. The open system architecture has been completed as well as work to finalize the tactical prototype. fiscal year 2020 will see a critical design review, operational assessment, and start of the safety review/certification process. By combining the best features of the two most common initiation systems, SOCOM expects a return on investment in year four of fielding with an anticipated $704,000 in annual savings.
SOF Warrior, through PM-CP, fielded more than 500 electronic countermeasure systems and nearly 700 system upgrades in the fight to counter radio-controlled improvised explosive devices. PM-CP also assumed responsibility as the lead synchronizer for SOF Warrior’s counter-unmanned aerial systems mission and fielded more than 650 new systems across 13 combat evaluations to meet urgent warfighter requirements. Additionally, PM-CP delivered more than 2,600 specialized equipment items for explosive ordnance disposal and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense missions to provide global SOF with detection, identification, sampling, decontamination, and individual protection capabilities against threats from weapons of mass destruction.
PM-Family of Special Operations Vehicles (PM-FOSOV)
PEO SOF Warrior, through PM-FOSOV, continues fielding lowvisibility, non-standard commercial vehicles (NSCV) in support of low visibility operations conducted in denied environments. NSCV2 vehicles have completed all testing and are in full-rate production with a monthly manufacturing output of approximately 16. PM-FOSOV has also awarded two prototype vehicle contracts for purpose-built NSCV development. Purpose built vehicles may prove to be the future of NSCV by providing a more rugged, longer lasting platform with an overall reduction of life-cycle cost compared to the traditional NSCV. SOCOM is also exploring two NSCV-mounted Precision Strike variants in close coordination with PM-SOF Lethality. Finally, SOCOM is slated to award a follow-on contract for the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (LTATV) in 2020. This contract was solicited with full and open competition and is expected to yield an improved and more durable LTATV. The Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 program continues production and fielding as it moves closer to initial operational capability by the end of 2020.
PM-SOF Lethality (PM-SL)
SOF Warrior, though PM-SL, acquisitioned a 5×25 power and 7×35 power standard precision–variable powered scope with improved target acquisition and probability of hit between 50 meters and 1500 meters. Additionally, PL-SL awarded SOCOM contracts for the handgun aiming laser and the precision aiming laser with a red visible pointer, near infrared pointer/illuminator, laser range finder, environmental sensors, and ballistics calculator. Additionally, PM-SL conducted a 2020 SOF Range event, which included nearly 500 participants from various SOF communities, DOD/national laboratories, and intelligence communities.
PEO Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4)
PEO C4 is responsible for acquiring and delivering cutting-edge C4 and Military Information Support Operations (MISO) systems. In 2019, C4 delivered more than 25,000 communications, information technology (IT), and MISO capabilities to SOF worldwide.
Expanding on focus efforts from 2018, PEO C4 continued modernizing IT and communications at the edge. The Next Generation Tactical Communications (NGTC) program initiated fielding of the low-rate initial production AN/PRC-163 Next Generation Handheld (NGHH) tactical radio in September 2018, followed by full-rate production and initial fielding in October 2019. The AN/PRC-167 Next Generation Manpack (NGMP) tactical radio is moving forward with an operational assessment scheduled for the summer of 2020. The NGHH and NGMP are dual-channel, multi-band radios enabling simultaneous communication over two channels hosting both narrowband and wideband voice and internet protocol based data waveforms. Additionally, PM C4 achieved a full-rate production decision for the AN/PRC-161 handheld link-16 radio and is fielding toward full operational capability. The AN/PRC-161 digitally integrates ground forces with air platforms, enabling rapid and accurate execution of digitally aided close-air support, significantly shortening the kill chain timeline and reducing the risk of fratricide.
The Satellite Deployable Node (SDN) program awarded a contract for the service life extension of fielded satellite terminals, providing deployed forces access to IT services through a scalable, man-packable solution. The SDN-ISR kit entered full-rate production, providing SOF the ability to receive full-motion video over the SDN family of systems while the tactical local area network program restructured acquisition and sustainment strategies, resulting in significant efficiencies.
MISO programs shifted focus toward transformative development efforts aligned with national directives to invest in next generation MISO capabilities. In anticipation of emerging requirements, the program initiated nine research and development projects with SOFWERX in transformative technologies such as holographic imaging, offline two-way live language translation, and physiological analysis. Additionally, the team conducted five industry events, analyzing more than 100 white papers on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to enhance core MISO capabilities of audience analysis, language translation, sentiment analysis, and measures of effectiveness.
The Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4IAS) program led the acquisition effort in support of the SOCOM chief information officer’s digital transformation initiative by awarding a one-year base and four-year option Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (MSEA) contract vehicle. The MSEA provides SOF the ability to acquire and consume DOD-approved unclassified and classified O365 Software as a Service (SaaS) and Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) commercial cloud services. C4IAS also established an Impact Level (IL2) presence in Amazon Web Services in support of SOCOM’s public facing website, www. socom.mil. The migration from the SOF Information Environment (SIE) to a commercial cloud service reduces the overall cybersecurity risk to SOCOM networks.
PEO SPECIAL RECONNAISSANCE, SURVEILLANCE AND EXPLOITATION (SRSE)
PEO SRSE is responsible for the acquisition, development, fielding and sustainment of SOF next-generation ISR and digital data analytics capabilities. PEO SRSE has been designated as the lead for two new programs of record: Mission Command System/ Common Operating Picture (MCS/COP) and Remote Advise and Assist (RAA); both initiating in fiscal year 2021. MCS/COP will unify the SOF enterprise via a common operational picture that provides global situational awareness. RAA will provide force protection, prevent potential fratricide, and provide enhanced situational awareness improving U.S. SOF visibility of partner force operations from a distance.
PEO SRSE continues to develop and demonstrate technologies to support SOF operational requirements using affordable, tactically controlled, and tailored space assets. The current focus is development and demonstration of modular ISR payloads using a standardized satellite bus. This approach allows for a “plug and play” approach, enabling maximum mission flexibility. PEO SRSE continues to leverage SOF-user expertise, government partnerships, the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) program, and commercial industry. Additionally, the program office is collaborating with the larger space community in a quest for rapid, resilient, and responsive space launch.
PEO SRSE’s Joint Threat Warning System (JTWS) program progressed toward more complex, near peer, signal prosecution through software and hardware advancements within existing sensors. Moreover, advanced algorithm technologies were vetted and selected to provide more accurate direction finding for manned ISR aircraft that require improved threat warning and enhanced target acquisition, without changing existing antennas on the aircraft. JTWS also continued to explore cyber-enabling capabilities within existing program of record signals intelligence sensor kits.
The Mission Support Systems program office continues to fully deploy the National Reconnaissance Office Fusion Analysis Development Effort platform; garrison and tactical/deployable full-motion video; and signals intelligence processing, exploitation, and dissemination equipment in support of Distributed Common Ground/Surface System Special Operations Forces (DCGS-SOF) requirements. The Special Operations Forces Planning, Rehearsal, and Execution Preparation (SOFPREP) program transitioned SOF modeling and simulation common databases to the National Geospatial Agency in support of an intelligence community and DOD-federated co-production ecosystem.
The Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) program continues to provide leading-edge biometrics and forensics devices to SOF worldwide. The program equipment enhancements are identified and evaluated through SOFWERX industry days, limited user assessment testing, and combat evaluations. Additionally, SSE fielded the latest software to exploit captured electronics. Several exploitation analysis centers received upgraded shelters, dramatically improving environmental systems, lighting, and electrical distribution.
The Technical Collection and Communications (TCC) program office oversees the development and testing of commercial and government material solutions for integration into TCC programs of record, which include Hostile Forces-Tagging, Tracking, and Locating (HF-TTL), Tactical Video Systems/ Reconnaissance Surveillance Target Acquisition (TVS/RSTA), Blue Force Tracking (BFT), and Special Communications Enterprise (SCE). The technology focus areas include global and non-global positioning system based capabilities, unattended ground sensors, and advanced methods for clandestine communications.
This article originally appears in the following edition of Special Operations Outlook: