SOFWERX to help special operations forces tackle contested logistics challenges

The innovation foundry event will bring together officials, technology developers and other subject matter experts to brainstorm high-tech capabilities and their potential applications.
Sailors from Special Boat Team 12 conduct boat operations supporting a West Coast-based SEAL team during their maritime operation training cycle. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Henderson/Released)

SOFWERX — a hub focused on solving U.S. Special Operations Command’s toughest problems — is gearing up for a confab to address a major impediment that commandos are expected to face in future wars: contested logistics.

The gathering, which will be the next round in SOFWERX’s “innovation foundry” series, is being organized as the Defense Department worries that its supply lines could be interrupted by advanced adversaries armed with precision guided munitions and other weapons capable of taking out ships, aircraft and other logistics platforms.

During the post-9/11 counterinsurgency wars, American forces had air and maritime supremacy and were able to maintain large bases in the areas where they were fighting, which made it easier to get troops the gear they needed. But tomorrow’s conflicts are expected to play out differently, as the Pentagon views China as its top threat and the Indo-Pacific as the key theater.

“The future of warfare demands innovation in supply and sustainment capability to keep pace with large-scale, multidomain combat against peer adversaries. The intensity of future conflicts may lead to rapid depletion of stockpiles and resources, and deployments to remote locations far from established supply hubs will necessitate unconventional solutions for resupply, local procurement, and point-of-need production. This presents new challenges and opportunities for SOF in addressing strategic-to-tactical distribution and supply gaps for the untethered operator,” according to a special notice posted June 7 on


“Predictive logistics, real-time needs assessment, advanced manufacturing, energy independence, maneuverability, standardization, safety, and quality assurance will all require novel approaches. The confluence of domains and environments — and the speed and precision demanded of SOF operations — further amplify these challenges,” it added.

The upcoming innovation foundry event, dubbed IF16, will bring together SOCOM officials, technology developers, futurists and other subject matter experts to brainstorm high-tech capabilities and their potential applications, with an eye toward what the operating environment might look like in 2030.

Officials want to identify operating concepts and the investments that SOCOM needs to make in the near term to position itself for success in contested logistics scenarios.

Experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous systems, robotics, additive manufacturing, and “large-scale, multi-material and smart 3D printing,” among other categories, can apply to attend the three-day event.

Officials from the command’s science and technology directorate will evaluate applicants’ CV submissions, which are due July 5, to determine who will be invited. The gathering will be held in August in Tampa, Florida — where SOFWERX and SOCOM are headquartered — or another location, according to the notice.


After the event, a follow-on “rapid capability assessment” and “integrated technology sprints” may be conducted to demonstrate proofs of concept.

Officials from the SOCOM S&T directorate could also help facilitate business-to-business R&D agreements as sub-awards through the SOFWERX Partnership Intermediary Agreement; other transaction agreements; procurement for experimental purposes; cooperative research and development agreements; prizes; or FAR-based procurement contracts, according to the notice.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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