PEO SOF Warrior: Acquisition on Target
How Special Operators Get Their Gear
By Colonel Joseph Capobianco, PEO SOF Warrior
I received the charter for Program Executive Office (PEO) for Special Operations Forces (SOF) Warrior (PEO-SW) on 10 August 2012. The staff and I lead and manage an effective and capable team of ten Program Management Offices with the motto of “Operator Focused: On Time-On Target!” Collectively, these offices are organized and staffed to provide the required acquisition agility to acquire and field SOF-unique capabilities to the SOF enterprise. These capabilities directly enable Special Operations Command (SOCOM) lines of operations: Win the Current Fight; Expand the Global SOF Network; Ensure Responsive Resourcing.
PEO SOF Warrior is one of eight program Executive Offices comprising the Special Operations Research, Development, and Acquisition Center (SORDAC) that work together to ensure the U.S. Special Forces get the particular equipment SOF require to execute their world-wide global mission.
PEO SOF Warrior Mission
The PEO-SW mission is “To provide rapid and focused acquisition of SOF-unique capabilities to USSOCOM Operators conducting decisive SOF activities and global operations against terrorist networks.” The statement really focuses on the continued drive to deliver rapid, focused, and SOF-unique capabilities.
Our PEO Motto is “Operator Focused: On Time, On Target!” This reinforces our focus on the Operator. The “On Time – On Target” has dual meaning from an operational standpoint and the programmatic standpoint of being on schedule and meeting SOF-peculiar performance requirements.
As acquisition professionals, both military and civilian employees derive a great sense of accomplishment and pride by delivering capabilities to special operators.
The PEO-SW teams are recognized experts and trusted providers of SOF unique streamlined acquisition. They work day-in, day-out to deliver capabilities for very particular SOF requirements within DoD acquisition and SOCOM directives, all in a challenging fiscal environment. As acquisition professionals, both military and civilian employees derive a great sense of accomplishment and pride by delivering capabilities to special operators.
With a validated requirement and programmed fiscal resources, the program management offices plan and execute acquisition strategies to negotiate the DoD and SOF streamlined acquisition framework—from early development and testing through production, fielding, and life-cycle sustainment. The PEO team plans and implements both material and non-material acquisition efforts supporting SOCOM’s four component commands: the U. S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC); the Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSOC); the Air Force Special Operations command (AFSOC); and the U. S. Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The team manages capabilities spanning a wide spectrum of functional warfighting commodity areas, including ground mobility, visual augmentation systems (VAS), weapons, ammunition/demolition, survival, and tactical casualty combat care (TCCC) systems. Examples of a few SOF-specific capabilities are highlighted below.
In September 2011, SOCOM approved a requirement captured in a Capability Production Document (CPD) for a new and improved variant of a medium-class vehicle. This update, referred to as Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 (GMV 1.1), provides updated requirements to replace the SOF-modified, service-common HMMWV. General Dynamics Ordinance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) won a single contract award in August 2013. The vehicle’s size is based on the cargo area of the CH-47 helicopter; other requirements include driving range, speed, and denied terrain maneuverability. GDOTS will develop several different vehicle configurations to support a variety of combat, combat support, and combat service support mobility requirements.
Visual Augmentation Systems
These systems are designed to provide SOF operators with an ability to conduct missions while operating at night, during periods of low visibility, and in battlefield obscurants or bad weather. PEO-SW acquisition experts are quick to adapt emerging technology into current systems. In the case of the Binocular Night Vision Device, the PVS-31, the program manager team designed an improved system building on the success of the PVS-15A. It is a half-pound lighter, 30 percent smaller, and provides improved performance at the same cost. These systems are currently fielded with green phosphor tubes; a white phosphor tube variant, the PVS-31A, features enhanced visual contrast with white vs. green background.
In conjunction with SORDAC’s Procurement Directorate, SOCOM made a competitive contract award in April 2013 for a SOF Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) system (rifle, scopes, cases, and ammunition) which will increase the effective engagement range of SOF snipers to 1,500 meters. The PSR will replace the existing M24 and Mk13 Sniper Systems employed by USASOC. A future increment will seek to replace the M107 and Mk15 Heavy Sniper Rifle for anti-materiel engagements.
Tactical Combat Casualty Care
The TCCC program provides critical, field-operable medical equipment to treat injured operators from point of injury until transfer to a definitive care facility. PEO-SW and Program Manager for SOF Survival, Support, and Equipment Systems formed an Acquisition Rapid Response Medical Team to develop the requirement. The result was the Casualty Evacuation System, which offers a multitude of pioneering capabilities to attend to casualties under a variety of conditions at the point of injury on the battlefield. The current capability consists of four modules: extraction, mobility, transport, and supply.
As a resource sponsor, the PEO provided execution oversight for a $1 billion annual budget executing 125 programs and projects along with over 250 pre-program efforts, including combat evaluations, purchases, and studies. Whenever possible, the PEO pursues non-developmental items and commercial off-the-shelf technologies as the most responsive means to expeditiously infuse emerging capabilities to address combatdriven requirements and identified capability gaps.
Looking Ahead as Acquisition Professionals
Across the board SORDAC and PEO SOF Warrior work hard to recruit, groom, and retain talent in our organization. People are important; they are PEO SOF Warrior. As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall stated, “There are no fixed rules that apply to all situations, and as professionals we know that a deeper level of comprehension is needed to understand how to make good decisions about such issues as technical risk mitigation, what incentives to will best improve industry performance, what it will take to ensure the product is mature enough to enter production, or how much testing is needed to verify compliance with a requirement.”
We are proud of the people on our team and work to recognize their individual and collective accomplishments. Over the course of two years, DoD recognized the PEO SW enterprise with Defense Acquisition Workforce awards.
I am very proud and humbled to serve with and lead the PEO SOF Warrior team. On a daily basis our individuals and collective teams do a phenomenal job executing the mission of fielding Rapid, Focused, and SOF Unique Capabilities to the Operators. In keeping with one of the principal tenants of SOF—“People are more important than hardware”—we cultivate a very strong bond with our supported combat developers across all component commands to ensure their capability needs remain our prime mission focus.
As our PEO motto states: Operator Focused: On Time, On Target.
Top photo caption: Special Forces soldiers, wearing oxygen apparatus and with night vision goggles mounted on their helmets, prepare to conduct a high-altitude freefall parachute jump. These Green Berets are students on the Military Free-Fall Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course (ATIC), an advanced skills training program run by the JFK Special Warfare Center and School at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. (Army)