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NIWC Atlantic Offers Business Community Glimpse into Product Needs of Navy, Marine Corps

21 April 2022

From Steve Ghiringhelli

CHARLESTON, S.C. - NIWC Atlantic celebrated more than 15 years of strong, industry-focused engagement on April 20 at the 60th Small Business and Industry Outreach Initiative daylong symposium at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, South Carolina.

SBIOI gatherings, which are sponsored by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA), foster small business interest in working with a government lab and offer an understanding of the rapid acquisitions tools available.

The Charleston-based events also help NIWC Atlantic engineers and technologists excel in information warfare, connecting them personally with emerging innovators in the commercial space.

“We are so grateful to the CDCA and our industry partners here for enabling this environment of collaboration,” Peter C. Reddy, NIWC Atlantic executive director, told a packed room of nearly 375 business leaders.

Under the Small Business Act, the Department of Defense has statutory targets regulating how many acquisition dollars are obligated to small business. NIWC Atlantic’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) seeks to award 39% of all eligible obligated dollars on prime contracts to small business concerns, according to Robin Rourk, OSBP deputy director at NIWC Atlantic.

More than halfway through the fiscal year, NIWC Atlantic has already awarded 46% of all eligible dollars to small business.

“These outreach events are critical to continuing to increase our small business numbers and diversity,” Rourk said. “Small business innovation brings speed and agility to the information war.”

Unique at this year’s first SBIOI was the attendance of Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) Director of Contracts Johany Deal and her team of contracting officers, who travelled from Quantico, Virginia, to brief business leaders.

“There exists a very dynamic relationship between MARCORSYSCOM and NIWC Atlantic,” Reddy noted. “With business technology developers here in the audience today, we look to leverage these teaming connections even more as we rapidly deliver capabilities that meet the needs of the warfighter today and tomorrow.”

As the Marine Corps continues solidifying its doctrine of recognizing “information” as the seventh warfighting function, Reddy said it’s no secret the information domain will be where future battles are fought and decided.

Leaders from the Expeditionary Warfare Department at NIWC Atlantic held the longest panel discussions of the day focused on the services they provide MARCORSYSCOM, the Marine Corps organization responsible for overseeing every technology and piece of gear placed into the hands of Marines.

Ashlee Landreth, who leads the Expeditionary Warfare Department, spent time providing the audience a high-level understanding of the latest national defense strategies that affect her workforce and the capabilities they are developing and fielding.

“Our nation’s success in the Indo-Pacific region will depend on the ability of our naval and special operations forces to sense and make sense across systems while operating in a contested maritime environment,” Landreth said. “As the lead systems integrator for many of those enabling systems and capabilities, we are in a unique position to work with industry to achieve our technical interoperability goals and meet key objectives of national strategy.”

Throughout the day, military leaders discussed technical growth areas at NIWC Atlantic, industry forecasts and upcoming opportunities to partner with the Navy.

In addition, Steve Harnig, NIWC Atlantic’s director of contracting, delved into various metrics related to contracts and explained the command’s mission in achieving data-driven results.

“Every time we engage with industry, the goal is to not only share our priorities and what business opportunities are available but also demonstrate the overall transparency of our operations,” Harnig said. “I view our industrial base as stakeholders in the information warfare business, and I try to build trust during events like SBIOI so that we can foster excellent working relationships.”

Following the event, CDCA President Gary Jaffe said the continued strength of the defense industry’s relationship with NIWC Atlantic was highlighted, made especially noteworthy with the Marine Corps contracting professionals in attendance this year.

“This milestone for the CDCA, coupled with the amazing growth we’ve experienced, underscores the importance of our mission as we seek to protect, strengthen, advocate for, and grow industry’s ability to deliver valuable solutions to our warfighters,” Jaffe said.

Two more SBIOI events are scheduled to take place this year on July 13 and Oct. 20.

About NIWC Atlantic

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.


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