Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Special Operations Command Bypasses Acquisition Red Tape

Special Operations Command Bypasses Acquisition Red Tape

In December 2013, four special operators were injured after the CV-22 Osprey
tiltrotor aircraft they were riding in were hit by small arms fire as they
evacuated U.S. citizens from South Sudan.

Soon after, Special Operations
Command’s acquisition arm, working alongside the Army and the Navy, began an
effort to field lightweight armored panel kits to give its fleet of Ospreys
greater ballistic protection. In less than six months, SOCOM had acquired enough
kits for the entire fleet.

That is just one example of SOCOM reacting
quickly to meet critical warfighter needs, Jim Smith, deputy director of the
Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center, told National

While many experts criticize the length of time traditional
Defense Department acquisition programs take from start to finish, SOCOM has
gained a reputation for speedy procurement.
That continued ability to field
equipment in weeks or months instead of years will be critical as U.S. military
strategy shifts from Afghanistan and focuses on smaller, global missions led by
special operations forces, Smith said.

“I believe the urgency [for rapid
acquisition] is going to certainly endure and may even increase,” he said. “The
relevance of SOF to the current national security strategy, the role they play
in support of the geographic combatant commands all over the globe and the
expectations for SOF to accomplish a very broad set of missions to include
no-fail missions, that’s going to continue … but in a more dispersed, remote,
austere environment.”

Smith is one of the top leaders at SORDAC, which is
made up of 270 civilian workers and 90 officers. When an urgent need is
identified — that is, if something is deemed necessary to the success of a
mission or loss of life could occur without it — the acquisition process is
streamlined to meet the requirement within 180 days, he noted.

speed is made possible through a series of special acquisition authorities,
including parts of Title 10 in the United States Code and appropriation funding
from Congress called Major Force Program-11.