Using private equity, venture capitalists, and commercial technology to boost US Special Operations Command’s capabilities and keep up with China while lowering costs and improving cooperation with international partners were key takeaways from the discussion at SOF Week 2023.
The panel at the SOF Week 2023 conference emphasized the need for US Special Operations Command to embrace private equity to keep up with China’s advancements. They highlighted the role of venture capitalists (VCs) in driving high-tech development in defense, particularly in AI, cyber, and autonomy. The panelists stressed the urgency to act and accelerate the integration of commercial technologies. One challenge mentioned was the high cost of being a defense-focused small-medium enterprise (SME), which needs to be reduced to encourage innovation. The idea of assigning retiring special operations forces to SMEs to understand real requirements was proposed. The panelists also discussed the advantages of adopting commercial tech, citing the Ukrainian military’s effective use of “low end” tech against Russian troops. They suggested USSOCOM should own and operate its own inexpensive SATCOM network for better intelligence capabilities. Private capital investment could be used to enhance the capabilities of international partners and allies. Finally, the panel recommended the appointment of Chief Technology Officers in all US DoD Geographic Combatant Commands.