DOD’s Trick Play Manager

William Roper, director of the Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office, wants to be the US military’s trick play manager. “We have run our current playbook too long,” he told the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. “Successful teams turn this into an advantage by running trick plays,” Roper said. “They reimagine their strengths” and work to establish an “element of surprise.” SCO is doing this by finding creative ways to field systems more quickly and using small businesses to gain more agility where possible. Recently, US Pacific Command was “trying to address a gap in ship-to-ship weapons,” and the commander “needed something very quickly.” Instead of building a new system, SCO repurposed a missile interceptor “to do an anti-ship role,” and completed the process in only three years. SCO took a similar approach when the Air Force wanted “advanced navigation” that doesn’t rely on GPS for its Small Diameter Bomb. A small business had “a technology to use cameras” instead of GPS, so “they are the lead on that program for us with Boeing subbing to them.” This arrangement allows small businesses to play a role in DOD contracting because they don’t “have to be the expert in the weapon—Boeing is—but they’re the expert in the navigation.”