Armor & Mobility

May/ June 2017

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

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GEN Thomas: One of the attributes my predecessors developed and cultivated was a global network of SOF partners. My focus since taking command has been on continuing to "operationalize" that network and to identify how we work together on specific problem sets, based on common national interests. That network won't work if we cannot operate effectively with our partners. We are not starting from scratch to solve the interoperability problem. NATO's Special Operations Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, has made great strides toward improving interoperability by establishing a common coalition SOF doctrine, which is relevant even outside of the 28-nation construct. One key to interoperability is understanding where and how coun- tries are employing their scarce SOF resources. We do this through development of a global Common Operating Picture. Three Key ele- ments that help us maintain that global Common Operating Picture are the Special Operations Liaison Officers (SOLOs), our J3-Internation (J3-I) and the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs). Recognizing that humans are more important than hardware, particularly where it comes to interoperability, we have established SOLOs with many of our key SOF partners. SOLOs work as part of the US embassy country team in direct support of the host nation's SOF development. In 2014, we established an international coordination center at USSOCOM, the J3-I. USSOCOM currently hosts SOF representatives from 19 nations in J3-I, and it provides us with a unique capability to tackle interoperability challenges by directly involving the partner nations. For example, this year we are partnering with the Joint Staff J6 in their Bold Quest capability demonstration, to look at specific air- to-ground and coalition ISR problems that occur when working across different security domains. Also, J3-I partner nation representatives directly support pre-mission training for Combined Joint Special Opera- tions Task Force staffs deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, to ensure coalition SOF planning and operational considerations are built into those organizations. The TSOCs are our regional, operational headquarters that are under the command and control of the GCCs. Between J3-I, SOLOs, and the TSOCs USSOCOM has direct access to over 30 nations on a continuous basis. Since SOF cannot be massed produced, it is vitally important that we work through and with our partners, providing them with every opportunity to improve our ability to operate as a team anywhere, at any time. A&M: From an industry partnering perspective, how is USSOCOM working to partner with industry to better facilitate efforts to increase mission positive outcomes? GEN Thomas: We have several pathways to partner with industry to discover and transition new technologies to support SOF. Many of our interactions and events with industry partners are held at a venue called SOFWERX. SOFWREX is an unclassified, open- collaboration facility located in downtown Tampa designed to bring non-traditional partners from industry, academia, and the government together to work on USSOCOM's most challenging problems. At SOFWERX we conduct Capability Collaboration Events (CCEs), technology sprints, Rapid Prototyping Events (RPEs), and other events with Government, academia, and innovators in the commercial marketplace. Another practice we use to partner with industry is our Technical Experimentation (TE) events. We invite technology providers to bring their works in progress to our hosted events three to four times per year. Each event has a SOF specific theme, and we bring operators who assess the technology and provide feedback to the technology provider which helps them to improve their products. TEs provide a win-win environment because technology providers can get insight into what's important to the user early in the development cycle. We get to see technology early on and often identify additional use-cases that haven't been considered by the developer. We also see quite a bit of what we call "ad-hoc" experiments. "Ad hoc" experiments happen when two or more technology developers combine their efforts and either fix a problem within their product or add a capability they hadn't thought of before coming to TE. SOF Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) also has a Director of Small Business who provides guidance and information to our industry and commercial partners on how to do business with USSOCOM. This office should be one of a small business' first con- tacts when initiating communication with USSOCOM. The Technology & Industry Liaison Office (TILO) is a conduit to present information on capabilities to the various USSOCOM Pro- gram Executive Offices, directorates and others responsible for the research and development, acquisition, production, and sustainment of USSOCOM equipment. Lastly, we hold the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) annually in Tampa. SOFIC provides networking opportunities, demonstrations and exhibits of SOF equipment exhibitions and the opportunity to hear from senior SOF leaders, acquisition professional and experts from across the command. SOFIC also provides a venue for us to get to know our industry partners better and forum for the SOF community to come together to network, strategize, discuss and share information. Gen. Raymond A. (Tony) Thomas speaking at the new Joint Special Operations University building dedication (SOCOM) COMMANDER'S CORNER www.tacticaldefensemedia.com 12 | Armor & Mobility | May/June 2017

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