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 (PEOs) 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.
COMMAND, CONTROL, COMMUNICATIONS AND COMPUTERS (C4)
In fiscal year 2020, Program Executive Office-C4 continued fielding transformative capabilities and pursuing research, development, testing, and evaluation efforts that will truly transform special operations forces (SOF) communications capabilities while also migrating the information technology environment to a hybrid cloud architecture.
The Tactical Communications Program Management Office fielded:
• 9,635 Tactical Radio systems
• 564 SOF Deployable Nodes (SDN) items, of which 141 were complete systems
• 5,813 Tactical Local Area Network (TACLAN) items
• 51 Radio Integration Systems (RIS)
• 562 Handheld Link-16 (HHL16) radios
• The SOF Deployable Nodes (SDN) program completed its labbased security assessment of NSA’s approved Cross-Domain Solution to be incorporated into the SDN-ISR Kit.
• SDN completed its first procurement of 40 DualBand Terminals from the newly awarded Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) contract, resulting in 40% cost savings.
• The Next Gen Tactical Communications (NGTC) Program of Record (POR) completed a Limited User Evaluation and procurement of 2,400 Next Generation Manpack (AN/ PRC-167) radios. NGTC also fielded 9,635 Next Generation Handheld (AN/PRC-163) radios, achieving full replacement quantities for some components.
The Enterprise Networks (EN) fielded:
• 4 Intermediate Processing Nodes (IPNs) and 22,470 IT devices/systems.
• Radio Integration System (RIS) program processed multiple task orders on behalf of PEO Fixed Wing and other programs to integrate gateway software that simplifies the communication between dissimilar military standards and vendorspecific solutions.
• Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Information Automation Systems (C4IAS) implemented a complete transition of the command’s unclassified network (NIPRNet) to Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services.
• The C4IAS POR awarded the Blackberry Enterprise Services (BES)-2 life cycle replacement known as Agile Reach. Agile Reach, the CIO’s top initiative, delivers critical C2 services via a classified smartphone to SOCOM senior-level personnel.
• The Commercial Cloud Management Office (CCMO) supports the CIO’s multi-cloud, hybrid cloud strategy and provides the command cloud oversight, consumption analytics, and the appropriate service-level agreements and DOD component cybersecurity controls.
• EN also completed the process of transitioning the Airborne Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance Transport (AISRT) to the SCAMPI POR. AISRT provides high-quality, low-latency transport of AISR sensor data supporting Command and Control (C2) through, with, and among AISR assets. The SCAMPI program replaced the legacy network monitoring solution providing the headquarters, components, and TSOCs with enhanced monitoring and alerting solutions on all networks (SOFNET-U, SOFNET-S, and SOCRATES).
• The Multi Mission Payload (MMP). The MMP team conducted developmental testing (DT) of the MMP-Heavy, bringing electronic attack and cellular broadcast closer to operational capability. Sustainment programs like the Media Production Center (MPC) focused on modernization and radical change through significant upgrades to revolutionize the reachback capability, and a project to digitize over 10,000 deteriorating media products, making them available in the cloud.
The Program Executive Office-Fixed Wing (FW) consistently teams with government and industry partners to rapidly develop and field capabilities that enable SOF warfighters to win. PEO-FW successfully executed $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2020 supporting SOF-unique fixed-wing capabilities.
• The AC-130W team continued to support multiple emerging combat needs, including advanced defensive measures and the ability to strike through all weather.
• The AC-130J team continued manufacturing and modification of the AC-130J, to include delivering the 20th aircraft to AFSOC. The team also accelerated development of improved GPS hardening, upgraded combat systems officer station, and multiple defensive systems.
• The AC-130J High Energy Laser team, including Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, completed critical steps toward the delivery of the revolutionary beam steering control system that will hold the laser on target during flight.
• The Armed Overwatch Team conducted downselect, pre-award activities via Other Transaction Authority Agreements (OTA) to identify prototypes capable of meeting requirements. The Armed Overwatch program will provide a cost-effective, austere capable, multi-role aircraft that can support disaggregated SOF conducting deployed missions.
• The CV-22 team continued integration and began the developmental flight test program for the Terrain Following/Terrain Avoidance (TF/TA) Silent Knight Radar (SKR) system.
• The team continued MC-130J Capability Release (CR)-1 delivery by installing SOF-peculiar Special Mission Systems (SMS), Electronic Warfare Bus, and Defensive Systems Upgrades on eight aircraft. PEO-FW Detachment-1 received the first CR-2 modified test aircraft with CR-1, MC-130 Terrain Following (Silent Knight Radar), and Airborne Mission Networking, and began system developmental ground and flight test.
• The Radio Frequency Countermeasures (RFCM) team completely revamped its acquisition strategy to deliver capability to AC-130J and MC-130J aircraft. The RFCM team completed four evaluations involving subsystem demonstrations and follow-on development and production proposals in an OTA competition. This was the first OTA-based contractual effort to competitively award a follow-on FAR based production contract over $500 million in the DOD.
• The AC/MC-130J Integrated Tactical Mission Systems team performed two flight demonstrations with an aircraft open systems architecture. The team also performed a three-month period of software sprints to mature automated mission planning and rerouting capabilities hosted on the MC-130J and AC-130J Special Mission Systems suite.
• The MQ-9 program fielded the first Automatic Takeoff and Land Capability in 2020, designed to reduce the OCONUS footprint. The MQ-1C program continued to support the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment with SOF-peculiar modifications.
• The Long Endurance Aircraft (LEA) program continued to support with 24/7 “no blink” airborne ISR. Additionally, the program procured two Pipistrel light sport aircraft and converted them to unmanned systems.
• The Manned ISR team completed an operational evaluation of an alternative precision navigation system for potential fleet-wide implementation.
• The Non-Standard Aviation (NSAv)/Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) program inducted 18 aircraft into the Block 20++ modification line. The Block 20++ upgrade includes Mode V IFF, long-range comms, dual-mode infrared (IR) taxi lights, and secure HF. The AvFID program provided 1,746 C-145A hours of SOF mobility, multi-engine training and 2,310 Armed C-208 hours of ISR and precision strike training to foreign partners.
• The Tech Insertion team executed a small business innovation research (SBIR) Phase III contract to mature an all-weather radar capability for manned ISR platforms. The radar successfully demonstrated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 through improvements (Moving Target Indicator [MTI] from SAR Motion Video on High-Value Targets) to NSP-7(X) radar software, firmware, hardware for real-time operation on armed or unarmed/manned or unmanned ISR or strike platforms.
Key procurements in fiscal year 2020:
• 4 MC-130J production aircraft
• 8 MC-130J CR-1 modified aircraft
• 1 MC-130J CR-2 modified test aircraft
• 1 CV-22 production aircraft
• 6 CV-22 Block 20 modified aircraft (completes fielding of Block 20 Common)
• 4 CV-22 Block 20 MCOI (Mission Computer Obsolescence Initiative) modified aircraft
• 1 CV-22 SKR modified test aircraft
• 5 AC-130J aircraft
• 144 GBU-49 Guided Bomb Units
• 500 GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bombs
• 750 GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition
• 1,440 AGM-176A Griffin Missiles
• 10 MQ-9 Block Five Extended Range aircraft
• 2 Pipistrel LEAP aircraft
• 3 U-28 aircraft
Overview on Armed Overwatch
Last year, congressional defense committees asked SOCOM to conduct additional analysis to evaluate whether other material solutions or methods of employment of existing aircraft might meet Armed Overwatch acquisition program requirements. They also recommended using an independent entity to accomplish the analysis. In response, SOCOM awarded a contract to the RAND National Defense Research Institute in November to take on the effort. The analysis was completed in March, and RAND briefed the results to the congressional defense committees.
SOCOM is preparing to conduct a demonstration of candidate Armed Overwatch platforms and has awarded five fixed-price prototype project OTAs totaling $19 million. The awardees will demonstrate prototype systems evaluated against well-defined criteria. If the prototype project is deemed successfully completed by the government, the contractor may be requested to provide a production proposal for a follow-on production award. SOCOM has and will continue to work closely with Congress throughout the acquisition process for Armed Overwatch, and appreciates its feedback and support.
The Armed Overwatch acquisition program aims to provide special operations forces with deployable, affordable, and sustainable manned aircraft systems capable of executing close air support, precision strike, and armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance requirements in austere and permissive environments for use in operations against violent extremist organizations.
Program Executive Office-Maritime consists of a team of five program management offices: Surface Systems, Undersea Systems, Naval Special Warfare, SOF Undersea Mobility, and SOF Combat Diving. The PEO-Maritime portfolio provides both surface and undersea maritime mobility platforms in various stages of development, production, and sustainment, as well as cutting-edge SOF Combat Diving equipment. In 2020, PEO-Maritime’s successes included verifying SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) MK 11 interoperability with U.S Navy submarines, taking delivery of the first Dry Combat Submersible, and reaching full operational capability of Combatant Craft Assault (CCA).
• USSOCOM accepted the first production Dry Combat Submersible (DCS 1) in early 2020 and proceeded into the Developmental Test (DT) phase followed by operational test. DCS 2 is preparing to ship to the United States to continue final system integration, while the DCS 3 pressure hull completed final inspections at Cuxhaven, Germany, and shipped to the subcontractor’s U.K. facility. Pre-contract award activities for DCS Block II are ongoing to develop the next-generation capability providing interoperable capability with U.S. Navy submarines.
• The SDV MK 8 program is in sustainment, with a phased replacement by the SDV MK 11 Shallow Water Combat Submersible. The SDV MK 11 completed a major milestone, successfully demonstrating interoperability with a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) configured Virginia-class submarine. The MK 18 Mod 1 UUV delivered an additional two systems, for a total of four delivered systems.
• UUV systems are currently undergoing SOF-peculiar modifications for delivery in FY 21. SOF Combat Diving (CD) is a key commonality factor for special operations mobility; providing a capability to interface equipment with all PEO-M platforms. The SOF CD program utilizes Middle Tier of Acquisition authorities to develop and field SOF-peculiar diving equipment.
• SOF CD program completed rapid prototyping efforts of a handheld diver navigation system, and began procurement and fielding of the production articles.
• The CCA program delivered CCA hull 32, the final craft to reach FOC. A follow-on CCA production contract was awarded to initiate the CCA re-capitalization effort. The CCM program delivered a total of 29 craft and is on track to achieve FOC milestone of 30 craft in early FY 21.
• CCFLIR2 integration was finalized and successfully completed operational testing.
• The CCH program’s SEALION III is in production and ready for propulsion trials. Delivery of the SEALION III in FY 21 will fulfill the FOC requirement. SEALION I completed its overhaul and was restored to a fully mission capable status.
• The CCFLIR 2 program completed conditional fielding & deployment release (CF&DR) with two systems deployed on SEALION II and two systems installed on CCMs.
• Full Rate Production (FRP) is ongoing with an additional delivery order of 25 systems placed on April 20.
• The Maritime Precision Engagement (MPE) program continues design and development efforts for a munition solution and craft integration. The end result will provide Naval Special Warfare an offensive and defensive capability, initially onboard the CCM. The Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOCR) inventory of 24 craft remains operational and sustained through SOFSA.
Key deliveries/fieldings in fiscal year 2019:
• 1 CCA, 4 CCM
• 14 CCFLIR2
• 2 UUV MK 18 Mod 1
• 3 SDV MK 11
Program Executive Office-Rotary Wing (RW) provides the Army Special Operations Aviation Command and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) (Airborne) with the most advanced RW aircraft, mission equipment, and training systems available. To accomplish this critical mission, PEO-RW focuses on readiness, advanced technologies, and life-cycle logistics to ensure the 160th SOAR maintains a comparative advantage against all potential threats. Along with the Technology Applications Program Office and Product Manager SOF Training Systems, PEO-RW resources strategies that support a three-part acquisition strategy of technology recapitalization, lethality and survivability upgrades, and planning for the future of SOF vertical lift. This strategy resulted in PEO-RW successfully executing more than $535 million to develop, deliver, and sustain the SOF helicopter fleet in fiscal year 2020.
• The Mission Enhanced Little Bird Program Management Office (PMO) continued the A/MH-6 Block 3.0 qualification effort and postured the program to start the Block 3.0 modification line in early 2021. The PMO has also delivered 48 of 51 Block 2.2 aircraft to date.
• The MH-60M PMO continued aircraft deliveries of the Block 1 modification, which provides better situational awareness for aircrews, as well as increasing payload availability and reliability for SOF operators.
• The PMO has delivered 35 of 72 Block 1 aircraft to date. The MH-47G PMO awarded several major contracts supporting the MH-47G Block II program, to include awarding a $125+ million contract procuring eight renew and one new MH-47G Block II.
• The PMO achieved a significant milestone in August 2020 by accepting the first Block II aircraft from Boeing.
• The Mission Equipment team partnered with the Silent Knight Radar team to initiate an effort to fuse sensor data from the disparate systems to provide enhanced situational awareness, with a demonstration planned for early 2021.
• Fielded nine Block 1.0 MH-60Ms (35 total to date), increasing performance with 105% rotor capability.
• Fielded seven Block 2.2 A/ MH-6Ms (48 total to date), increasing safety with crashworthy seats.
• Fielded first MH-47G Block II aircraft.
• Awarded Lot 3 production contract for eight MH-47G renew and one new MH-47G BLK II, recapitalizing the RW heavy assault fleet.
• Fielded nine Q-250 brownout cameras.
• Fielded 15 Small Tactical Terminal (STT) radios (in collaboration w/ PEO-C4).
• Fielded 101 P3I-EAGLE conversions.
• Fielded 230 Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers.
• Fielded 80 Video Processor Module (VPM)-8600B units.
• All five Combat Mission Simulators received a common software and hardware architecture.
SOF DIGITAL APPLICATIONS
The Program Executive Office for Special Operations Forces Digital Applications (PEO-SDA) was officially chartered/activated on June 1, 2020. The PEO’s mission is to rapidly consolidate, integrate, acquire, and/or divest of SOF-unique software solutions through the use of the Agile Acquisition Framework’s Software Acquisition Pathway and by utilizing commercial best practices while providing “cradle-to-grave” management for the duration of required capabilities. The PEO provides acquisition expertise in support of the command’s significant investment in the chief data officer, the chief information officer, and the Digital Engineering Lab. The office will also assist USSOCOM in meeting the command’s priorities by aligning software/digital investments with the National Security Strategy and the Command Planning Guidance to support counterterrorism/counter-violent extremist organization threats as well as strategic competition requirements. Finally, the PEO will attempt to close the gap we are currently witnessing in this domain between our capability and our near-peer competitors’ capacity.
• The Distributed Common Ground/Surface System Special Operations Forces (DCGS-SOF) Enterprise and All Source Information Fusion component continued to enhance the Fusion Analysis Development Effort (FADE) platform to meet all source analyst requirements.
• The DCGS-SOF Geospatial Intelligence Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (SGIP) component established a life cycle sustainment manager for the program, fielded multiple deployable/tactical SGIP kits, tested the next generation cross domain system, and matured the ability to incorporate 3D modeling into the Full Mission Video Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination workflow.
• Special Operations Forces Preparation, Rehearsal, Execution and Planning (SOFPREP) partnered with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to support a new national capability for federated co-production and dissemination in support of simulations training and 3D visualization in support of operations.
• The Mission Command System/Common Operating Picture (MCS/COP) conducted market research that will support formal program initiation in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021. MSS delivered:
• 177 high resolution geospatial intelligence data sets
• 26 Deployable/Tactical SGIP systems
• Three FADE Master trainer courses
• 34 SOF Analyst courses
• Special Operations Mission Planning and Execution (SOMPE): SOMPE is one of the major contributors to the Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) suite of software applications.
Program Executive Officer-SOF Warrior (SW) provides combat overmatch today and in the future for both counterterrorism and strategic competition. The office is comprised of 10 Joint Program Management Offices and more than 250 military, civilian, and contractor personnel. This team is charged with planning and executing $1.8 billion to develop, acquire, and field a multitude of critical special operations-peculiar warfighting capabilities – fielding multiple SO-peculiar capabilities to improve SOF operator lethality, mobility (maritime, air, and ground), communications, situational awareness, protection, survivability, training, and human performance. PEO-SW fielded 38.8 million rounds of ammunition, pyrotechnics, demolitions, breaching, and kinetic items/devices; 15,417 weapons, accessories, lasers, and visual augmentation systems; 198,728 items/sets/kits of individual and survival equipment, EOD, and chemical biological protection items; more than 9,412 operator and medic kits and 212 casualty evacuation kits/sets; 10,183 Information Technology Automation Devices; 847 ISR end items; 668 ground mobility platforms; 25 maritime surface craft platforms; 869 communications systems/devices; 286 Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) Systems; 624 Counter Unmanned Aircraft systems; and 2,372 Chemical/Biological Protection items to SOF operators.
• Program Manager (PM) Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Special Programs (SP) managed 13 diverse commodity areas, executing approximately $137 million in procurement and approximately $47 million in RDT&E for FY 20.
• Throughout FY 20 PM NSW-SP managed: one ACAT III Program of Record (PoR), nine projects, 35 Combat Evaluations (CVs) and one study.
• PM NSW-SP fielded 1,407 small arms weapons; 50 shoulderfired weapons; 4.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition; 144 explosive devices; 283 scalable effects kinetic payloads; 1,706 visual augmentation devices; five production maritime surface craft; 20 maritime craft that underwent substantial engineering retrofits; 20 Blue Force Tracking devices; 344 tactical radios; 110 ground mobility vehicles; 18 ISR Indagos; and 108 unmanned systems.
• PM for Family of Special Operations Vehicles (PM-FOSOV) managed and executed $335 million in FY 20 across a portfolio of five active programs, featuring a fleet of 3,274 light, medium, heavy, and non-standard commercial vehicles (NSCVs) with 404 mechanics and field service representatives deployed worldwide. Demand for ground mobility continued to increase, with the team fielding: 168 Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1s, 94 NSCVs, 137 LTATVs, and 22 Bearcat Armored Personnel Carriers in support of 12xx operations.
• PM-FOSOV executed the reset of 25 GMV 1.0 and 12 MATVs.
• PM-FOSOV successfully awarded a $109 million seven-year IDIQ contract in support of follow-on LTATV efforts and awarded two OTA contracts totaling $4.8 million through National Advanced Mobility Consortium/ACC Detroit Arsenal for eight prototype, purpose-built NSCVs.
• PM-FOSOV conducted Limited User Evaluation (LUE) on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Heavy Guns Carrier (HGC). This effort was necessary to assist USSOCOM in determining where the JLTV vehicle fits within the USSOCOM Mobility portfolio. PM-FOSOV completed engineering design for the C5ISR Phase IV kits to accommodate the next-generation SOF Handheld and Manpack Radios.
• PM for SOF Survival, Support, and Equipment Systems (PM-SSES) managed more than 13 diverse commodity areas, executing $155 million in fiscal year 2020.
• PM-SSES enhanced capability through development of the SPEAR GEN V-B and MSAP GEN II Ballistic Plates, TRL 7 prototype systems of the next-generation Rotary Wing helmet and Clandestine Body Armor product improvement efforts.
• Fielding and Deployment releases were issued for the FTHS ground ballistic, non-ballistic, and Coxswain helmet systems, the Military Alpine Reece System for cold weather protection, safety belts and lanyards, and the personal signature management system, providing significant enhancements to operator protection capabilities.
• PM-SSES supported the acquisition of 191,432 operator survival support and individual equipment items and 9,624 medical kits and tactical combat casualty care sets.
• PM for Sensitive Activities (PM-SA) managed 85 Acquisition efforts in excess of $182 million in fiscal year 2020.
• PM-SA provided program and system acquisition management in support of selected SOF units and specified special programs to enable Sensitive Activities.
• The team acquired and delivered 9,000+ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, special communication devices, physical and virtual special communications nodes, software capabilities, and information technology hardware items.
• PM-SA and SOF AT&L-KP completed SOF AT&L’s first-ever competitively awarded Experimental Transaction Agreement (ETA) using 10 U.S.C. 2373, Procurement for Experimentation Purposes, as well as SOF AT&L’s first-ever virtual classified Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) due to COVID-19.
• PM for Communications and Intelligence Support Systems (PM-CISS) executed more than $58 million across a portfolio of seven projects and 115 program/project/purchase efforts.
• PM-CISS continued to lead five platform Capability Area Working Groups charged with developing highly specialized technologies.
• Successfully executed multiple National-Level classified development efforts leading to the fielding of several classified national SOF operational enhancements for intelligence capabilities.
• PM for Counter Proliferation (PM-CP) managed and executed $150 million during fiscal year 2020. These funds were utilized in support of a portfolio consisting of three major lines of effort featuring Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), Counter Unmanned Systems (CUxS), and Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD).
• The team acquired and delivered 115 ECM systems, 254 CUxS devices, and 7,300 various operator employed kits that provide critical protection capabilities for globally deployed SOF. Specific accomplishments include: Support to three CUxS Combat Mission Need Statements (CMNS).
• PEO SOF Warrior/PM-SP received the prestigious DOD AT&L David Packard Award for Acquisition Excellence.
• PM-SSES received the USSOCOM AT&L Innovator Team Award.
• PM-CP received the USSOCOM AT&L Adapter Team Award.
• PEO-SW, despite the world wide coronavirus pandemic, executed all appropriations IAW OSD benchmarks (OTA) Prototype for a Modi Special Application Module (SAM); the Multi-Service Modi procurement of 419 systems, saving 45% per system across the enterprise and accelerating Full Operational Capability four years ahead of schedule; execution of 17 CUxS combat evaluations across SOF, leading to the development of a capability development document; and, the training of more than 1,250 personnel on ECM/ CUxS.
• PM for SOF Lethality (PM-SL) awarded more than $50 million in various lethality commodity areas, and procured more than $102 million of various munitions, totaling more than 36.4 million rounds. The team displayed a good deal of innovation as it worked around challenges imposed by COVID-19 in order to plan and execute numerous testing events and operational assessments.
• The Visual Augmentation Systems (VAS) team awarded eight contracts/delivery orders for new laser and optics devices totaling more than $40 million. The team exceeded OSD obligation rates for the VAS portfolio.
• The Precision Strike Systems team completed two User Operational Assessments for the SPIKE Non-Line-of-Sight operators training/combat evaluation and the APKWS/ VIPERS live-fire event. The Target Engagement Team planned and conducted an aggressive test strategy resulting in the completion of an operational test on the Advanced Sniper Rifle as well as a limited user test comparing the Extreme Sniper Strike Operations rifle chambered with the .375 EnABELR against the Mk.15 .50-caliber Heavy Sniper Rifle and the M107 .50-caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle.
• PM for Special Programs (PM SP) managed 138 efforts (nine programs and 129 pre-program efforts) while executing 1,469 procurement actions and $792 million in investment and O&M funds.
• The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) Program was the recipient of the prestigious David Packard Award for acquisition excellence.
• PM-SP also advanced the maturity of the Multi-Domain Analytics Platform (MDAP). MDAP is a requisite edge architecture and capability that can scale to the lowest echelon, and integrate with disparate and decentralized devices for a vendor to “plug and play” its device (including cameras, internet scrapers, EW devices, biometric devices, and Wi-Fi detectors).
• PM-SP transitioned two Counter-Integrated Air Defense System (CIADS) capabilities into programs, and these systems will provide a layered capability to exploit threat system vulnerabilities while operating in anti-access/area denial environments.
• PM-SP delivered an array of multi-functional SIGINT, EW, and Cyber sensors to meet urgent requirements.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (S&T)
Mission: Strategic Engagement continues to strengthen relationships and build the SOF network with DOD and Department of Energy laboratories; federally funded research and development centers; university affiliated research centers; academia; and industry in order to leverage and influence their larger efforts against USSOCOM S&T priorities. Strategic Engagement’s processes seek to discover new technologies, reduce redundancies, gain efficiencies, and synchronize long-range future planning to enable SOF to maintain the operational advantage.
S&T Futures executed three Innovation Foundry (IF) and two Rapid Capability Assessments (RCAs). The outputs of the RCAs culminated in one Integrated Tech Sprint Demonstration. These events coalesced in developing disruptive capabilities and how they may impact SOCOM mission sets for future SOF operators in a changing Future Operating Environment (FOE). All events paired SOF warfighters with non-traditional engineering and scientific communities in government, industry, and academia across the United States to identify potential capability gaps. Concept Capability Packages, white papers, experimental prototypes, and videos are available for key stakeholders.
• The Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF) approached the Hyper- Enabled Operator (HEO) concept by seeking to provide the operator with cognitive overmatch, or the ability to dominate the situation by making informed decisions faster than the opponent.
• To increase situational awareness, reduce cognitive load, and accelerate decision-making in austere and denied environments, the JATF has begun developing OWC, a system that brings computing resources to the edge.
• OWC provides the operator with the ability to detect and understand people, vehicles, and places in the environment while simultaneously learning contextual relevance and significance. The system can operate over multiple nodes, offering realtime, local processing with overlapping data capture.
• The JATF identified a need for flexible local communications infrastructure that reliably scales long-range in a satellitedenied environment. BLoS (Beyond Line of Sight) is unique in its flexible positioning and ability to be employed across terrain that would otherwise challenge traditional communication technology.
• “We conducted a very successful S&T Enterprise Portfolio Review [STEPR] event held virtually Sept. 15-16. All projects currently funded with SOCOM S&T resources, including new projects beginning in fiscal year 2021 were briefed, as well as the S&T enablers [Strategic Engagement, Futures, SBIR, and Technical Experimentation]. This will become an annual event, aligned to our project development battle rhythm,” said Lisa R. Sanders, director of Science and Technology.
• BLoS aims to allow operators to securely transmit highbandwidth information (such as live video streaming) across long distances from tactical units at the edge, even while on the move.
• The JATF worked with Johns Hopkins University to gauge the state of reliable speech-based translation technology in a virtual tabletop exercise. Pathways forward will be developed next year.
• The JATF submitted a Call to Industry asking for technology capable of analyzing collected data at the edge in real time. A tech sprint is planned for next year.
• Biotechnologies/Human Interface completed development of blood and pharmaceutical cooling system, fluid warming system, field antidote for snakebites, broad-spectrum venom inhibitor, high altitude and increased performance study, and synthetic delta agonist study.
• Continued development of U.S.-sourced freeze-dried plasma system.
• Continued brain health baselining studies i.e. assessing and tracking tactical (traumatic brain injury) forces initiative and repetitive low-level blast imaging; effects of whole blood donation; recovery technologies and wearables; nutritional supplements for extended performance; exercise mimetics; and bioelectric signals (in-ear EEG) for warfighters.
• Developing Human Performance (HP) through sleep restoration, circadian acclimatization, mindfulness training in SOF candidates, advanced data analytics (Smartabase), hemorrhage control through CRISPR/CAS9 cellular engineering, and focal array lens (day/night capability) for warfighters Next-Generation Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance/Tactically Relevant Situational Awareness.
• Completed development and testing of Shearwater, a Small Unmanned Aerial System (SUAS) BLoS communications and data transport system enabling Class 4/5 UAS capability in Class 3 systems.
• Successfully contracted nine new starts in fiscal year 2020, stemming from both Broad Agency Announcements and the 2019 SOFIC Disrupter event.
• With the AFWERX Strategic Financing program, began leveraging roughly $15 million over four years in private and AFWERX funding for the Eye Mounted Display Effort Network & Data Management.
• Supported the research and development priorities of the Commander, Acquisition Executive, and S&T Director for contested communications, cyber operations, and alternative navigation technologies and incorporated Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) and edge computing technologies in support of these objectives.
• Five new contracts awarded that support SOCOM Research and Development Priorities and address SOF capability gaps, and one cyber project in support of Naval Special Warfare.
• Collaborated with the following laboratories to support portfolio requirements: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Army Research Laboratory, AFWERX, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Applied Physics Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory to support the development of the portfolio Next Generation Effects/Precision Strike.
• Completed 6.5mm Aeroshell prototype project demonstrating increased capability in support of PEO-SW, Navy Surface Warfare Center-Crane, and Joint Service Small Arms Program (JSSAP) customers.
• Successful technology development and prototype demonstration of a classified Maritime Disablement Operations system. Working transition to PEO-SW for acquisition.
• The Wide Area Scalable Effects Platform project successfully conducted vertical take off and landing, transition to level flight, extended flight time, and target engagement. Compiling results for provision to interested entities for possible transition as a Coalition Warfare Program project.
• Continued multiple signature management efforts aimed at reduction of acoustic, visual, infrared/thermal, and electromagnetic signatures of various SOF systems.
• Safely conducted three TE events focused on a multitude of SOF future technology capabilities. Postponed and canceled two events due to impacts of COVID-19.
• The Technology and Industry Liaison Office (TILO) received 418 submissions and conducted over 50 briefings/demonstrations from industry.
• Developed and released the Engage SOF (eSOF) platform to provide a next-generation TILO capability.
• Participated in five small business roundtables.
• The Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) awarded 12 Phase I and 32 Phase II contracts.
• USSOCOM collaborated with the U.S. Air Force in co-funding three projects, including the first SBIR to support the USSOCOM chief data officer.
• Utilizing the Pilot Program for Development of Technology- Enhanced Capabilities with Partnership Intermediaries authorized by FY 20 legislation, awarded more than $5 million to five small businesses. This pilot increased small business participation by 200%, reduced contracting time by approximately 80%, and decreased the time from initial award to prototype delivery by 60%.
This article first appeared in Special Operations OUTLOOK 2021, and was edited for style and consistency.
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