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James Smith: Special Ops Forces Acquisition Modernization Would Require Industry Partners to Go Quieter

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James Smith, acquisition executive at U.S. Special Operations Command, said special operations forces are known to be “quiet professionals” and SOF acquisition should be modernized in a way that adopts the culture of the operators while preserving the commitment to competition, inclusivity and transparency.

To support them, we must become quieter as well. The way we protected information in the past will not work in the context of integrated deterrence,” Smith wrote in a commentary published Monday on National Defense Magazine.

Smith said he wants academic and industry partners to take additional steps to ensure the security of supply chains. He highlighted the need to reassess how the command drafts requirements, disclose contract awards and determine what information should be divulged to the public.

He noted that the command will urge commercial partners to go quieter as it pursues the modernization of its acquisition process and advances the development of counter-unmanned aerial systems, next-generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools, information warfare, untethered logistics and other emerging technologies.

Our operators have always been well-served by our industry partners. To sustain and improve upon that level of service will require us jointly to deliver capability at a tempo and at a security awareness level that ensures they are prepared for the most contested environments against the most advanced challenges,” Smith said.

The ‘old’ techniques of program protection and security need to become new again while not losing the agility we’ve acquired over the past few years,” he added.

Smith also shared his views on the SOFWERX platform, the Vulcan portal, small business awards, digital engineering and experimentation with physical prototypes.