Army Applications for Innovative Tech with Jay Wisham

Jay Wisham, outgoing executive director of the Army Applications Lab, joins host Ken Harbaugh to talk about using the best commercial technology and talent to transform innovative tech into Army-ready solutions.

Prior to joining AAL, Jay was a Senior Army Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, a Lead for Artificial Intelligence Applications for Army Futures Command’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, and Program Director for Project Convergence. Find him on Twitter at @jaywisham and find the Army Applications Lab at @aal_innovation. Learn more about the AAL at

ACME General: My guest today is Jay Wisham, the outgoing executive director. of the Army Applications Lab, which connects the Army to the best commercial technology and talent in order to transform innovative tech into transition ready solutions. Jay, welcome to Accelerate Defense.

Jay Wisham: Ken, thanks for having me on today, I really appreciate it.

ACME General: Let’s start with a bit of your backstory. Give us the short version or the long version, if you want to, of how you wound up leading AAL.

JW: Sure. It’s kind of a combination, but I’ll definitely give you the cliff notes. What I will tell you though is, um, you know, the first thing is I definitely targeted and engineered my way into that job, like, and there’s a reason why that will become important probably later. So, uh, long story short, 25 years in the army, uh, I’m, I’m currently transitioned out, out of the army as of, I think like less than a week ago, technically, um, So the culmination of that was getting to AAL. That was like my capstone job in the Army. Prior to that, for the first 20 years, basically, well, 21 years, I had a very, very solid operational career, did a lot of interesting stuff, commanded a lot of levels, had a lot of fun in the Army, got to do some phenomenal work, mostly in kind of the, Conscience and surveillance space on the ground side. Did some work in the intelligence community a little bit here and there. Some pretty cool interagency stuff. Lot of fun growing up in the middle of global work, you can call it fun, so to speak. The last few years, I was leaving Squadron Command and long story short, I was literally transitioning out and I got a phone call from a… you’re from a general and he’s like, Hey, Jay, you got a minute to kind of talk to him. He’s like, well, yes, of course, cancer. And he’s like, Hey, have you ever heard of army futures to me? And I was like, no, it’s like, and technically it wasn’t even a thing yet. It was like, absolutely. It was barely even not even really the radar yet. And they were like, Hey, they’re setting up these, these CFTs, these task forces that are dotted around doing all these different jobs. I was like, Oh, task forces like Syria, North Africa. I’m in like, what do you need? And they’re like, no, not exactly like that. It’s really about technology modernizing how we’re kind of really trying to shape and transform the army. And I was like, okay, that’s very different. I don’t know a lot about that. I have some experience in technology which we can probably talk about at some point. But I was like, okay, let me see what you got. And we’ll search for an interview with another general. And he’s like, you’re my guy. So I helped, you know, I kind of did an emergency move to Detroit, Michigan. Which by the way, like coming out of an operational, like a combat zone going into Michigan, I was like, okay, it’s not a big change. But I will say this to all of the people from Michigan that listen to your show, I love Detroit. Like I fell in love with the city of Detroit, lived in Royal Oak, absolutely thought it was a phenomenal place. Very, that whole Detroit versus the world thing, I love. So long story short, what the CFTs were there to do, they took kind of these different portfolio items and they really kind of dove into them with a whole fresh set of, of thinking these were all operational guys. We had acquisition people and science and technology and RD and D type folks with us, but it was generally like, hey, take gun fighters and put them in charge. Take problem owners and put them in charge of these transformation pieces. And you had to have some, there’s a fairly selective process with first launch of people going into CFPs, which I would, to this day, tell you that the CFP concept, was probably one of the best things that came out of the ad innovators, like that methodology of thinking, thinking, and working. So you had a lot of people that had, they had to have, you know, deep operational experience, you know, a lot of combat time, a lot of hands-on time, or, you know, end user time, if you will. Had to be very current and they had to have a track record of building teams and communicating well. That was kind of the structured criteria. So what I did up in this DFT, I basically ran a lot of our applied artificial intelligence out, you know, work, how we looked at unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, and how that would apply to a combat environment, like in a very visceral way, like a very tactical way. So, kind of the marquee things I kind of did, you know, while we were sitting there was I stood up, you know, with the University of Texas in the Army Robotics Center of Exxon You know, that paid dividends later, phenomenal group, Peter Stone and Mitch Breyer’s group down in Austin, like they’re like legitimately world class. They’re probably not the best at any one aspect, but they were a B plus or A minus that everything you wanted somebody to do, which brought a really good integration flavor. Did a lot of work with Texas A&M in terms of helping them stand up to push combat development center or at least supplying some initial concepts for that, which is kind of a tech they built over Texas A&M. This is while I’m in Detroit, so I’m flying up and down to Texas. A bunch of all this is going on. Well, while that’s all happening, I had a boss who’s like, hey, I got an idea. I want to figure out how to apply artificial intelligence to the army, figure something out. He gave me a little bit of guidance. And we invented this thing called Project Convergence. It was called Project Quarterback initially. But basically, how do you get government-generated technology, private sector-generated technology, put it on the field together? It’s like you’re running the combine every time and everybody in the 40 trying to figure out it’s going to work. And you’re trying to bring it together in an integrative fashion, really baseline. What is legitimately the state of play in a given problem set or given technology set. So did those three things. And I was, I was good to get out of the army. I was, I was very satisfied. I was, I was done long story short. Uh, I was on a promotional list on a couple of different lists to do some stuff. I was not super interested in doing that. Uh, had a couple of people ask me if I was interested in going to MIT or going to Carnegie Mellon to be a defense fellow and I was like, not really. My wife hates Boston, sorry. So I kind of let that one out. But I was very familiar with the Army Applications Lab and all. So I was actually one of their first customers. I was one of the first guys that gave them a user problem and worked with them on artificial intelligence assisted target recognition. Basically computer vision problems. And I had a great experience with them. And more importantly, that AL was getting set up about the same time as ASC. So this is all, we’re all like doing discovery learning, baby steps at the same time. I was fascinated by AL because I’d been wanting the army to have something like this for a while. I was very used to working with the ref, down range, have a lot of good reps with them in terms of like trying to solve immediate problems. I did a lot of end user design and certain technologies with DARPA and some other things like that, trying to solve problems for the unit that I was in at the time. And I love that part of the work. I’m kind of a tech geek anyway. But I liked what AAL was doing. They were trying to actually solve a problem and not do a science project. And they were very much trying to feel their way. And I was very fascinated by that. So kind of the negotiating point, it finally came down to General Murray that then CG of AOC at the time is like, well, I’m from Texas. I was like, well, I’m not going to do, I’m not going to go to the Northeast, but I’ll go back to Texas. I’ll go to the University of Texas and then I’ll take over Army Applications Lab and that is like done deal. So left Detroit, came down to the University of Texas for a year, worked out at McCombs Business School as a senior defense fellow for the school and that was phenomenal. So I basically had a year. embedded with like world-class academics, entrepreneurs, and I had access to basically anybody in the country I wanted to talk to and effectively built a business plan for the Army Applications Lab. I had a very clear thesis on how I wanted to run that as a business, run it as an actual, you know, an activity that is roughly trying to bring all the positives and the thought you know, the kind of the thought concepts of a for-profit activity, an entrepreneurial activity, but bring that into the public sector space. And to put a lot of work into that, have a lot of great coaching from some, you know, pretty, pretty high powered folks that I had was very lucky to have access to, immediately took, you know, was able to take over AAL, had a little over two years there. And pretty much everything we wanted to do, we were able to kind of kick, you know, put on the table and execute and at least prove that you could do it, right? And that was basically how I ended there. I was like, hey, I’m going to start a business. I’m just going to do it through the army. And away we went. And that’s really kind of what led me down to Austin. And it’s a very meandering way to get there. But I would point out to you all the way back to what I first said is like, I had engineered my way into that job. I knew a couple years before I took the job, I wanted the job, and I was the right guy for the job. I thought I was the right guy for the job. Probably several people way more qualified than me. But I wanted that because I wanted to prove to the Army it could do some things that traditionally it would say it could not do well. Whether that was working through S&T problems, or that was requirements, or me and some of the acquisitions work. I was really tired of like all of the people saying no or hey you know it’s just too much process, bureaucracy takes about seven years to buy a pair of boots. or like, why are we doing this? Or, hey, there’s already a requirement to that. We’ve been working on that for 10 years. Like, where the fuck is it? You know, probably, excuse me, I will do that occasionally. I will, I will free, I will free think on you with that. But I really wanted to use AAL as a way of just one more time in the Army. Because I was kind of senior enough that I could actually make a difference. I thought I could weigh in at a certain level and make a difference. I engineered my way into that position, into a very particular job that is a one of one in the Army. There’s… There’s only one AAL. And you have some pretty cool authorities. And so you got your own budget. You can do a lot of stuff. You can get involved in almost anything if you can justify it. And I really wanted that and it worked out, I think pretty well in the end. We’ve learned a lot, made a lot of awesome mistakes. I’m not saying an awesome mistake. It’s if it’s a mistake you’ve learned from and get better from it’s an awesome mistake, right? Nobody got fired. So it was good. That’s kind of the long story, but the point is like you see an opportunity and it’s very unique in the army. I was really interested in wanting to go do that because it’s something like, you know, operational guy generally doesn’t get to do. And so I kind of like, like I said, kind of had to engineer your way into it.

ACME General: When you were first building that business thesis, what were some of the key success metrics that you set as your guide stars? And then in the course of answering that, I would love an example or two of awesome mistakes that you learned from.

JW: Oh brother, I got some of those, man. So a couple of the key things. So I really sat down and wanted to, I started with a couple of points this way. I started with a couple of premises, right? The first one was kind of like I said, how do you run an activity that is close, as close as you can manage to a private sector activity in a public sector space, acknowledging there are statutes, regulation, and policy that And there’s just fundamental things you do that are different, right? And there is a very different perspective generally. Um, so with that, I had to learn a lot about, uh, you know, so I’m not an acquisitionist guy, so I actually like sat down and read through most of the FAR, which I will tell you right now. That is definitely like reading the TOR, but you don’t read like Eber. So like that was a, an interesting experience. So how do I do that? And then what do I want to mimic? Like there’s a business style or model, how would I want to mimic that? So I started taking a look at a lot of commercial incubators, some tech accelerators, whether they were academic or commercial. And then you really, frankly, you start looking at venture capital. Like you really laser into that very, very early. A little bit private equity has got kind of a different vibe to it, like in terms of the longitudinal nature of its investments. But you really start looking at like, I need an incubator. and I need a venture capital activity. And it’s really the pieces of those that make both of those successful. So how do you intake problems? How do you understand what problem you want to solve? How do you execute due diligence on different types of offerings? Traditionally, the government will look at your technology and not really your company. I thought that was kind of a fatal flaw, particularly when you want to work with non-traditional businesses and small businesses, or even mid-years, because you can actually have a non-traditional that’s quite big. Handedly, a lot of people get this most small businesses, you can be a billion dollar company with 500 employees, technically your small business. Like I would reference anybody to the LA Lakers drawn of COVID check. So I wanted to take a look at that model of the incubator accelerator model, and then how would you couple that with like a venture capital activity? Because that’s actually, frankly, kind of how you’re deploying money on the behalf of the government in many ways. So we looked at those things, pulled in what we thought were the useful parts of that in the public sector space and kind of reoriented what we wanted to do in AAL along those lines. Put a lot of work into working with a lot of folks in the private capital space. We had some great partners with Deloitte. We had a lot of expertise that was very willing to come in and help us. We were able to like actually pull in some contract work too. That was phenomenal. Dave Bonafili, I know you very well. He was like… really instrumental in helping us relook how we wanted to shape AAL for the Army. And just to be very clear, AAL’s mission, it’s got a strategic mission from the Army. Our job is to mature and develop the technology and innovation base for the Army and DoD, like full stop. So when you think that through, that doesn’t necessarily say, go find me the best thing. Don’t go shopping. How do you mature and develop that that foundational commercial base and how do you make them great partners for the army and the DOD? So you got to make it easy for them. You got to find the right companies. You got to find the right tech. And you got to have an incredible dialogue and network into the commercial space. And frankly, you got to get off your ass and you got to partner with private capital and you got to communicate what your priorities are. So when they’re using their resources and their bandwidth, you level up companies and find companies. It’s a very 360 degree kind of activity. So that was the thesis, like how do you do that? Now that being said, there was one critical thing that I would share that I think is certainly uncommon if not almost unheard of in the rest of the government. From a cultural standpoint, I thought we needed to change some things too. And it wasn’t because, by the way, the team I inherited was phenomenal. Now it was something that I would say any success we had is we were ruthless about who we brought in and who we made leave. There’s not a second wasted. on making sure you have quality personnel. Not like, if you’re in a leadership position or management position, there is not a nanosecond wasted on that. Bringing in the right people and making sure the right, people that great guys or gals, but maybe not a good fit, you move them to help them be successful somewhere else. But the key cultural thing that I wanted to really kind of explore was, how do you do all this work? But you do it with the mindset that this is money you went out and got investors to, This was not, I have a core budget that, you know, that I get through Congress via the DOD down to my service. And so, hey, this is like playing with house money. Like that slight mindstep, that one tip changes how you perceive your engagements with companies. It changes how you perceive technology. It changes, frankly, the quality of your work, in my opinion. Because What you want to do is not just look at the technology, you got to look at the company then too. Like I’m betting on the people, the founders, I’m betting on their network, I’m looking at due diligence at their financials. Hey, are you going to be a company in 12 months? How much runway do you have? All of those things that you would probably very naturally do if this is your money or you’ve got LPs and you’re investing, you got to bring that same mindset and that same holistic set of, that kind of set of lenses that you’re looking at the company, the technology, the timing. Hey, what the hell is the end user want all that kind of good stuff? And then you do everything you can to advantage those portfolio companies, not just their technology and then that is a critical Critical factor any success we had was we were targeting Making those companies once they proved that they you know that they were the right athlete to be very clear You don’t pick winners until you know, they can be the winner, right? But you you know, they’ve got what you want and they’re already proving to you there They’re over delivering basically. But once they do, you’ve got to level those guys up. You’ve got to help partner them with Primes or have them do standalone work. You foment partnerships with other commercial entities. We have huge joint partners in the innovation space across DOD. We’re co-located with the Afworks, DIU, Insten, all that kind of good stuff. Had plugs from across Stocom and Jstock. And if I put… $2 million into a company and the technology, my expectation was that we should be able to turn that into somewhere around $7 to $10 million of initial public investment. That was one of our measures. So we looked at a multiple of public money that we wanted to generate internally. Then there’s a secondary phase where you start looking at, well, okay, well, what is the cost match that I want for private capital? And so you start really in it. And that’s, it’s hard to gauge, but we can’t. because different technologies move at different bases for that. But that was really one of the key metrics is like, am I putting resources on the right thing? Am I putting more than just my resources? I’m putting other army resources, other joint service resources, OSD money, intelligence community money, other federal money, and private money onto these problems because I wanted to basically make the vaunted Valley death kind of go away. because valid death really is a PDD problem for the most part.

ACME General: When it comes to getting those companies through or over that valley, advantaging your portfolio partners, how important was the ecosystem within AAL marrying those companies with others, with people who’d been there before, the cohort-based approach to shepherding their development?

JW: That’s huge, it’s absolutely huge. So I’ll kind of speak briefly to you mentioned the cohort model, which we kind of really sort of template it out for a lot of people in DOD. This is actually again, it’s not earth shaking. It’s not crazy. Other people have done it. I think you just, we probably just elevated it a little bit. Basically, when you have a problem you want to solve, like you’ve partnered with an end user, the requirements owner, or maybe a PO or PM if it’s required. And instead of just picking one winner, you want to pick like five. You want to pick five people that have a viable, acceptable, suitable, uh, you know, approach to a solution. And then you heavily embed them within users. And then through the course of that, what you ideally want, like the perfect picture is if I put five people on contract to solve this problem, I have five viable solutions that you can identify at like halfway through your period at your initial period. just kind of roughly. The magic is you financially incentivize people and you really preach to stuff friends like, hey, we’re going to be looking at this as one of our factors for down-selects for the next phase. How many partnership agreements you have, how well you operate with the other members of this cohort on this problem, what other strategic partners you’re bringing into the problem from outside your other partners that you operate other things with. Again, kind of building that base, building that solver base. But the cool thing is if you get five viable solutions and they start colluding, either whether it’s fomented or it’s organic on their side, now you have this cool option where you say, hey, like I like one, two and five out of those five. That’s cool. Those are all, these are all helpful. But the magic is when one, two and five start to be better than the sum of their parts. And now you’re actually getting after a you know, like a true best athlete approach, right? So that was kind of like the gestation of kind of how we wanted to approach the cohort problem. Really thinking in the end with the new users, but then really trying to drive that best athlete approach, if that makes sense. Does that kind of answer the first part of your question a little bit?

ACME General: Yeah. Yeah no, that does.

JW: Okay. So can you refresh me on the other one?

ACME General: I want to dovetail on that because I’m wondering as you’re guiding these cohort companies, how do you strike the balance between informing requirements versus actually delivering capabilities to the end user?

JW: Well, you got to, I’ll be honest with you, like, I don’t think there, I don’t think there’s separate activities to be. I mean, if you’re, if you’re delivering a solution by your nature, what you’re, unless you already knew exactly down to the thread count on the screws of the third wheel, you know, of the, of the vehicle. Unless, you know, you should be refining the requirements based on the solutions that are presented to you that are not just accept, not just acceptable slash men viable, which I’m a huge believer in men viable products. particularly as initial offerings, but you’re doing that to refine your requirement. Like that should be a required outcome, if you will, of that work is a better requirement. So that was actually one of our required work products. So not only do we need to solve problems, deal with issue, but often you’re going to end up, if not informing an existing requirement or programmatic activity, informing, modifying, seeking that’s existing. In some cases, you might be kind of breaking some new ground. So we actually got the authorities to write requirements. There’s some constraints that had to be on something we worked on. We liked modifying versus writing whole. And frankly, we didn’t have really the capacity to write a full CDD. We could do like directed requirements and things like that, which were much more succinct kind of rifle shots. But I do think, like to your point, like I don’t think you can unhinge both of those from each other. Even if you really know what you want, you are confirming a requirement. Worst case, you know, like, you know, at the highest, if it’s, you know exactly the thing you want, and it does exactly what you need, and you’re just like, industry produces this thing. All you’re really doing at that point is once you get the solution and you kind of get it out into the field, you’re really just confirming. So you’re still looking at like, bettering the requirement, even if you have it, which by the way, never happens. Like there’s no, I cannot like see a scenario where you don’t like, man, I need to change that. Like that is not possible in the dollar or the timeframe that I’m operating in. Or, and frankly, more often than not, like you find, I was like, Hey, the, you know, the solvers offering me something I didn’t ask for. I didn’t even know that I could ask for. And that’s pretty dope. I would like to get that in the hands of the, of the users. And so you will modify the requirement to account for that and you can kind of document it in CAPTURES.

ACME General: Can you give us a couple of real examples of getting something into the hands of the end user? What are you most proud of in terms of delivering that transition?

JW: I’ll briefly give you a snapshot of two, three, and you can kind of like pull wherever you want to go on that one. One of the early ones we have is a partnership with Hendricks Motorsports, which by the way, I’ll give a plug to Hendricks Motorsports right now. That is a phenomenal company. A lot of people are very associated with them with the racing industry, obviously. commitment to working on DoD problems like in years like soldier problems and the like world-class expertise at mechanical activities, you know, whether it’s vehicular, small form robotics, stuff like that, it’s phenomenal. So they were a very, very early partner with AAL on this program called STEED. It’s basically, for lack of better terms, it’s a load carrying system, you know, kind of like a motorized rickshaw or wheelbarrow if you will. It’s far more elaborate than that but very lightweight, super modular, does a lot of new, there’s a lot of incredible capabilities something that’s a very simple concept or very elegant concept. We got that in the hands of special operations units and it’s since been populated out to quite a few general purpose force units. They’re working on an actual long-term requirement right now. That was an early, very early success But that was also one of those awesome mistakes. I’ll be very upfront with you. Hendricks did phenomenal work. And then in true fashion of how the Army and AAL at the time would work, we were like, oh, OK, it’s good. We’re good. We solved the problem. High five. And then we just kind of left them twisting in the wind a little bit. And there was not the underpinning with programmatic language. You know, Palm budget activity, you know, all of those things that it’s like the traditional mistakes that the military makes. Right. So Hendricks of their own volition, they were like, Hey man, we like this thing. We, every, every soldier that touches it loves it. So they went out on their own, did some congressional lobbying, got a couple ads and just kept building it to units. Phenomenal work. Like, I mean, like, you know, it’s all the things that the government should have been doing for them. They did on their own. That was the lesson. And so two things, one, it is always better to reinforce success and keep pouring gas on that fire. That’s number one. And number two, like that they’re on your team, you brought them into the system, they’re one of your portfolio companies, which that term wasn’t using AL at the time. It, you know, that was kind of a cultural shift, like, hey, these are our people, right? You don’t break contact with those people. Like you don’t leave anybody on an island. Particularly if they’re performing, I mean, holy crap. So we reinvigorated that, we’re trying to reinvigorate that relationship with the Hendricks to good effect. They’re doing very well, and that’s gonna be probably absorbed into the Army at scale. That’s one, because it was a success and it was a critical lesson learned, I think that one stands out dramatically to me. Couple other ones that are pretty interesting, not quite as sexy, but. There’s some really interesting stuff in assured and precision timing and navigation, kind of more on the software. And if you’re really getting it like geeked out on like waveform type stuff, like antenna work, which I’m not a technician on, but there’s some interesting things that we’ve been able to do in that space by finding the right solvers that never would have thought to really, that really didn’t know how to interact with the DoD. pulling them in and then generating some real capability that was getting in place into some very kind of bespoke parts of the army on the network communication side. That’s like one of those things that kind of falls under the radar, but like if you’re not talking, if you don’t have a net, like we would not be talking if we weren’t on 5G. Don’t put that away. So that was one of those more under the table things, but it’s like this kind of these kind of like easy shots that you’re trying to get across the board that just keeps stacking up. like they’re small ones, singles over the course of a baseball game start like adding up to that’s basically that. Couple of you know, couple other ones real quick that I thought were, you know, pretty valuable on the human performance side. So we do, by the way, when I say we have a broad remit to operate, it’s everything from artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, human performance, you name it. We like profanity black, like, be prepared for black swans. Be prepared for things that are wildly successful, because that’s usually more lethal than to your business model than a planned or mitigated misstep. But human performance is something we put a lot of energy into the last couple of years, because that was a huge demand from the field. Everybody’s very interested in, because the Army’s meeting people, hey, how do we make humans better? Whether that’s cognitively, physically, from a recovery standpoint, a resilient, like a mental and emotional All of those things. And then more importantly than that, like at the aggregate level, how are you empowering these systems and decisions and understanding data? So you start thinking wildly different terms when you think about human performance. Like, hey, I need to capture that data. Well, how do I do that? Well, there’s variables like, you know, your R-ring, your high watch or whatever. Every human being is now like this rich source of data absolutely not being utilized traditionally in the army. Whether that’s medical, whether that’s behavioral or physical, you gotta start pulling all that in. So now you actually generate a big data problem and you have to instantiate solutions around that. Then you have the wearable problems that can go in that. Then you have interface issues where you have leaders at different echelons that need to be able to see these things and understand what they need and offer you know, some kind of analytic underpinning that can help them make decisions or at least understand what they’re seeing, right? So that’s a whole ecosphere that was opening up. And interestingly enough, that’s one of those things that’s actually not really a problem that you work through ASALT generally, like, so the Army acquisition authority, because it doesn’t fall within the realm of activities or equipping that is traditionally an ASALT thing. The Army has spent billions. of dollars on human performance just in my career. And it was all scattershot all over the place, not very well organized. I mean, we had like about a zillion kettlebells, somebody went out and bought. So we really wanted to apply some rigor to that. So we partnered with TRADOC, who actually has the Army mission and the budget, like the actual no shit palm budget to execute all this work. And so we started working with the HQF system out of TRADOC, the Holistic Health and Fitness Program. So we’re basically their primary solution provider for an athlete management system, the data underpinning for that. And then really when you start looking at specific wearables, how do you go after that? Then that branches you into other things for functional solutions. So working with the dive school, the army dive school down in US Florida, hey, they had some had a training death, they had some serious injuries, you’re taking relatively untrained people going through kind of higher risk training, right? So that’s the point of risk. So how do you apply some different capabilities and technologies that fall into human performance models? So there’s not like a single technology, there’s a couple of software programs and some data programs, but that package of things, those are transitioned into the force and growing. And then we’re very, very proud of that. Like that, like, cause that was a direct end user ask, we were trying to be extremely responsive. And so far that’s working out really well. And the lessons learned on there was all kinds of things about like, how do you get better at like getting software onto army networks? I’m sure you guys have talked about that before. How do you look at things like disparate data, whether it’s your physical fitness score test, your medical data, which has some different control measures on it, behavioral data, which has different control measures on it. You start looking at all of these longitudinal factors that frankly, but insurance companies through actuary work exceptionally well. The army’s never really figured out how to do that right in their context. That transition, which is ongoing right now and pretty well funded and moving out, very, very proud of that. Probably the last one I’ll give you, and this is the perfect example of what you want the government to do, but rarely does. There’s a company called Taktile, they’re based out of Seattle. phenomenal people. And you’ll notice like a key theme here. When I talk about like a company or technology, I lead with like that team works because you bet and invest on teams. I, I, I will stand by that all day long. That group up in tactile that Dirk Dahl runs, they, they, really to the AR VR space, we were looking for a maintenance solution. So it’s like, Hey, how do you use things like HoloLens? help me do maintenance on aircraft, vehicles, weapons systems, all those kind of things you would find in a motor pool, a flight line or an arm’s joint. And you take your operator and you want to aid him in doing that maintenance. That was a pretty simple concept. It’s not crazy. And in the commercial space, a lot of people have been messing around with it. Notice what I just said there. A lot of people have been messing around with it. Usually automotive or aerospace folks, for those part, they are, quote, unquote, messing around with it. Like, yeah, I’d like to have a cool digital twin of my, you know, of my pickup truck, and then that can train the mechanics on how to better do the thing. But because they’ve been messing around with it, they haven’t actually had like, like world-class experts focused on that problem, delivering a product-sized solution. That’s really what tactile did. And their, the secret sauce is like their interface, that they have their manifest interface, and their ability to generate really high quality digital twins. So they took that, that kind of ubiquitous technology, right? And they started applying it to a bunch of different contexts, not just for the army, but now they’re making a lot of headway in the commercial space. So for a very small bet, like, you know, not even $2 million, like well under $2 million, right? Like $1.5-ish, $1.5-ish thing. That was our initial investment in them. To solve what can help me do maintenance better with AR. Well, that turned into, let’s look at an MR, a mixed reality solution. And it needs to be less hardware-hide, because we were thinking we really wanted goggles on everybody. And actually a lot of the user feedback was, sometimes goggles work, sometimes phones work, sometimes tablet works. So, TACDOL was like, okay, we’re gonna make it so it works on everything. Cool. And you got a base station a lot of times. So, they did exactly what we asked. They said, here’s a solution where we make a digital twin of a vehicle. You could walk up to the vehicle, you could interface with it, it could walk you through all the maintenance steps, and they ingested all of the manuals, they ingested all of the maintenance procedures, and they made it exceptionally easy, just very natural to roll through. So you take a very untrained person, put them on a complex piece of equipment, run them through. Here’s what they did though. Because we embedded them with soldiers and units like deeply, they’re like, yeah, you know, but we’re only getting at part of the real problem here. The problem was how do you do maintenance better? The problem was give me an AR device. So they were like, okay, here’s what we’re gonna end up doing. They’ve basically deconstructed the entire maintenance, like the kind of tactical level maintenance procedures. They’re like, okay, baked into our device, now you can digitally order your part. That doesn’t sound like a huge step, but in the army where almost everything’s done manually and there’s two or three humans involved in it, your error factors drop dramatically and there’s a direct dollar amount per month per billing cycle. Because when you miss order a part, you’ve spent operational money to go buy, like that’s part of your budget. You spend operational money to go get that part. You got the wrong part, like, oh shit, that’s the wrong wiring harness. Well, now you pay a restocking fee. You don’t just keep that and like, hey man, I got one for a rainy day. You have to then go order the other part. Now you’re killing time and ratings because the vehicle’s down, right? So you’re burning money and you’re burning time. So they actually eliminated almost all of the human error out of that system through what they develop. Nobody asked them to do that. They were like, you know, we can tie into this thing called GCS army, which is kind of the global, like kind of sustainment logistics activity for the army from like a software, it’s like an enterprise, a little activity for the army, for logistics. And they tied that system. They’re like, Hey, we can bridge this directly into GCS army and you can, you can just make this kind of automatic. Pretty phenomenal. Again, nobody asked them to do any of that. Then they have a thriving commercial business, doing some of this for automotive and aerospace a little bit. But they also got really interested in telemedicine. All of the same tools, whether you’re looking at a car or a human, and I’ve got the ability, I’m looking at it, you on your device can pair with me, see what I’m saying. You can highlight the things I need to see or be looking for in real time with me, or even in a disaggregated way, where I can send an artifact back to you. And you could push it back in like multimedia fashion. Like I take a video of the problem or the thing, whether it’s a vehicle or a person. You can do whatever you need to do with that and communicate it back to me where I can understand it with visual cues. And you can do it on almost any piece of hardware. That’s phenomenal. Now, flash forward to Ukraine for the last year. Well, what are we doing? Well, the United States, a lot of people in the West, we’re pushing a hell of a lot of equipment over there to Ukrainians. What do you got to do to like high Mars? rocket launchers, what are you going to do to artillery pieces? You have to do maintenance on that. You have English manuals. And you have somebody in a combat zone on the other side of the world. You don’t have like an FSR that has fit them. So you have to apply a mechanism to basically do tele-manuals. So all of those things like led up to that very small, like less than $2 million investment drove in the end, in the space of about 14 months. roughly about 14 months. You start with that, they’re right now getting into about a hundred million dollars of revenue. And that was, we picked, you know, we figured out that was the company we wanted to go with. They’re doing it better than anybody else in the country, frankly. Certainly instantiating in a useful way. There might be better, like raw technology, but people that were like making it useful, like tactile was, we tried to find people that were better at a couple of points, because we were like, Like before we go all in on Spiritless, really good look, we could find anybody that was better than them. Certainly not better at making it a real activity that a user wanted to use. So in that little over a year period, you go from like a million and a half bet to that company’s gonna pull about 100 million revenue. Not too bad. That’s the story you want that is more of the norm than the exception. And we’ve had sits and starts on a lot of stuff, different components. tactile just is a really good, almost picture perfect example of how that works. Great company, really capable, knows how to partner with a lot of people, knows how to bring other partners to the table. We have a very deep private-public partnership with a vetted venture capital network. They’re raising an A around. We’re like, hey, I can’t tell anybody to, like when I was in the Army running AAL, I can’t tell Ken’s venture firm to invest in that company. But I can certainly explain to you why we’re putting our money on. I can explain to you, here’s my due diligence. Here’s our releasable information for it. Here’s what our plans are. You know, would you like to meet this company during the race? Very, you know, all above board, very legal. And it’s very easy to do. And so we developed, you know, that was a good example of it as we developed how we wanted to operate in the public sector space, bringing more resources, not just money, but like resources, like actual bandwidth and intention resources and the DOD space. And then on top of that, you’re leveraging the private sector piece and you’re actually supplying a no-shift real capability with dual-use functionality into the DOD. Those are kind of like five examples tactile, probably being one of the more, kind of above the line wins that we’ve had in the last couple of years. And again, the cool thing about that, that’s pretty sure technology that was already out there and we just needed somebody to really like shape it to the army. It’s a good example of dual use.

ACME General: When it comes to fielding something like that or like like steed or getting new ideas from soldiers in the trenches. What’s the role of the soldier innovation network when you have to engage with operational units across the army?

JW: Well, I mean, it’s pretty critical. So, and so I’m, so by the way, I’m down in Tampa for soft week and we actually literally addressed kind of a problem like this yesterday with Mr. Smith, the soft AT&L director, the DCG of SOCOM and general sent and a crowd of people in one of our panels. So there’s kind of two time horizons that you work on. The end user has exquisite understanding of a problem that he is dealing with, that he or she is dealing with, right? They are the person that has to grapple with that thing, whether that is an individual soldier or a unit. So, in terms of what do you need to do right now or right next, that is the number one funnel location that you find those problems from. Now, what’s interesting is you have to balance that with a top-down approach of, right, but what are we strategically trying to prepare for? So the Soldier Innovation Network is a critical factor in one, injecting ideas into the force, pulling their needs and their problems, their pain points in. And then you, you know, that’s also frankly from a networking standpoint, like you would think being in the military is just as simple as, you know, push button, call phone unit, unit does things. It’s not that simple. So what you really like doing is having the units really wanting you to bring solutions and then. They partner with you and they are supplying feedback. They are actual testers for you. They are operating that equipment. They are validating in operations, validating combat. They are actually providing no shit objective and subjective technical feedback to you, which is what the developers create. So not only is it your funnel for ideas coming out, being able to inject in, But from a development standpoint, if you think about it, like that is the agile development model. You have to in place your initial min viable product in with the people that are gonna use the product, work the hell out of it, and then you get reps on that and you’re turning it constantly, right? That is an absolute critical activity. Now the other part of that, now this is a cultural thing, so it’s not necessarily a business or technology thing, but. Over the course of my career in 25 years, I came in a little bit before 9-11, a couple years, two, three years before 9-11, fully intending, by the way, to only be in the Army for about two, three years. Fun fact. The better part of my adult life has been high risk problem solving, or high stakes problem solving. So, how do you solve problems in operations, in combat, where there’s a very steep penalty for mistakes? There’s a very steep penalty for ignorance, which, you know, unfortunately you got to learn, you got to learn. And so sometimes you got to learn through some scar tissue, figuratively and literally in cases. So you develop these generations of problem solvers, people that, and particularly early in the war, there’s like a lot of things going on where there was kind of the counter ID fight or just like figuring out how to do things differently. You’re adapting and learning and problem solving. And your leaders. anybody that was a baseline soldier, like I just joined the army or the Marine Corps in 2003, if they stayed in the army more than a minute, or the Marine Corps, they were becoming a leader as they flitted up. So you’re training people that were designed to be frankly problem solvers. That’s ultimately what you’re doing. You’re doing it in microseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, whatever. It’s pretty dynamic in some cases. And there’s a strategic bent to it. like you’re trying to work all these tactical actions while there’s operational strategic level activities. Long story short, you’re building problems, a fleet of problem solvers throughout your entire formation, top to bottom. Well when you stop doing that, when you stop going to war, and this is the unfortunate part, this is a problem you want to have, but you must solve, right? When you are not deploying the majority of your combat, your operational forces across the DoD constantly. in real time operations where there’s actual real strategic stakes, you really start losing that culture of problem solving. And it’s not evil. That’s just that’s just what’s happening. You’re not getting the reps. So the soldier innovation network, what we identified very early is a lot of those leaders, as you started having a lot less people deploying at the pace they were like a dramatic like it’s not even just a shadow of what it was like seven years ago, right? Seven years ago. And that’s a long time in this business. So all the people that are kind of like those two and three star flag officers, those are the people that like, they’re, they’re like one generation, one or two generations above me. Right. So they grew up in the army in that way, learning how to solve their own problems, figuring out resources, like understanding how to communicate a problem and a requirement well. So we wanted to harness those senior leaders across the army at that two and three star flag level to drive their organizations. to maintain that problem solving culture and mindset, the Innovation Network is a good way to do that. You’re trying to show empowerment, show like, hey, that’s a great idea. We got to figure out how to resource that good idea. That works. Let’s figure out how to go after that thing. And so that’s a very demonstrable way of trying to maintain some of that problem solving culture. And oh, by the way, it gets like no kid natural capability out of it, right? So that’s kind of where that sort of sits from kind of the Soldier Innovation Network. And frankly, it’s just, there’s no reason not to do it and instantiate it in such a way that it is considered, yes, we want units interfacing with solvers, both government and commercial. Yes, I need fresh problems coming up, constant. I need to really have in my fingertips on how we’re doing business now, what are we solving now? And by the way, what are the problems I need to be ready for next year, in three years, in five years, in 10 years? And that… The Soldier Innovation Network is really also that through fabric that allows the modernization enterprise to be frankly connected to the people that are their ultimate customers, those end users.

ACME General: Yeah. So you’ve got that focus on encouraging and amplifying that culture of problem solving and innovation throughout the Army at the soldier level. When it comes to capitalizing on that, how do you ensure communication and collaboration between an organization like AAL and then the various functional commands, the CEDAs, the CFTs? the dev comms. You’re getting these great ideas, but at some point the bureaucracy needs to do something with them.

JW: I’ll be upfront, it’s not easy. I would tell you that AAL alternately, depending on what day of the week that you dealt with them in different parts of their life, they could be like, man, these guys are annoying. I don’t want to deal with them. Or like, yeah, I would like to have my name on that slide that shows that that thing worked. And some of that’s very personality based, but a lot of it’s also indicative of these like legacy structures we have in the DOD. And I’ll speak very specifically to the Army. So we want to work with soldiers. That doesn’t mean we bypass GDIDs, the requirements community, if you will. But there’s a reality that a lot of the requirements community, it takes them a long damn time to write requirements. It takes them a real long time. And you often have people that are, again, kind of divorced from things. It’s like, I’ll pick on my brothers from Fort Benning a little bit, or Fort Moore right now. They sit there with thousands of soldiers around, they’re pretty much all trainees, right? And they’re a bunch of retired guys who are officers in the NCO cycling in, and they’re noodling on the same documents for a long time. And every time somebody comes in, they got a new idea, they got to this. The requirements are, like, anybody that thinks acquisition is the problem, they’re not really looking at the system. problem. It takes too long. We’re not very forward thinking with requirements and they’re overly prescriptive traditionally in many ways. In fact, you know, General Rainey commented like one of the requirements for like a UAS that he’d seen was basically when he signed in 2013 and used the MCO commanders of one star. He’s a four star now. He lost his mind over that. So you’ve got that problem. So we have to we want to partner with them. And ultimately, they do own a lot of all the requirements. Like even though we can write requirements in AAL, we can modify. We can do a directory requirement to go after a laser dim problem, right? But that still has to be captured in an actual CDD document that goes, that ultimately will go through adjacent processes, right? Like, so you still have to capture all that, so you have to foment really good partnerships with them. And, you know, over time we really put a lot of work into that and we did. And everybody’s got personalities. Every organization has got a unique personality. Benning works differently than the aviation COE over at Runder. They work differently than the logistics COE. They work differently than the fire COE. And they have different perspectives and personalities as an organization, not just the humans. So you have to be elevated above that and be able to work across multiple ones. So that’s the idea. on the on the requirements side on the S&T side. You know, we kind of have really like alternately really good and kind of somewhat frivolous relationship with DevCon. And I think that’s actually kind of healthy because that’s actually that was actually one of the original, you know, kind of the steady state mission and commissions of the ALs to provide like positive disruption. Now, positive disruption notice what I said there, positive disruption. There’s a fine line between positive and negative when it comes to disruption. And I don’t think AL and AFC and DEF CON figured this out very well initially. It’s gotten better, but you still have like, you know, these almost like pseudo competitive activities, which I think it’s kind of a shame. And by the way, we’re guilty of some of that too. You know, you want to be like, Hey, we’re, we’re solving this. We’re doing this thing. Like we think this is the right way to go. And then you have like other folks who are like, Hey, but we’re already working on it, moving to invest money. We’re blah, blah, blah. And. Often the truth is generally in the middle, right? And so we had to get better at operating with Devcom. So we actually developed, and this is actually kind of a, I carried a little bit from my CFP time into AAL. I had really good relationships with a lot of the individual lab directors. And so we were able to carry that into AAL. Now, the thing that I failed as a leader to do, I should have established a much better relationship with the Devcom headquarters. I had really good direct relationships with individual centers and labs. So I just kind of used that. But ultimately, I should have been better at working with the labs and in figuring out how to work with the DevCon headquarter structure better. That was my fault. On the acquisition side, that’s where I think we actually made the most strides, where we have phenomenal relationships with the DASAs. Our work is very well known to them. We do like trying to service PMs and PEOs and really where the DAS is going to be. And we did a lot of basically human targeting. You know, like, hey, who is that guy or gal that is like the critical like shot caller for this thing? Where do they live? Okay, cool. We’re going to fly out there. Like, we’re going to talk to that person. We’re going to bring them out to Austin. What do we got to do to make your life better? And so we went through great, great lengths to build direct organizational and personal relationships up and down ASOL. And that’s huge. That was a huge benefit to us because they run the corporate machine as far as that kind of stuff goes. So our ability to foment those relationships was good, but don’t get me wrong. We had to work our ass off to do that. And again, I think that a lot of people from the outside are like, man, why can’t you guys get your shit together and be a more synchronized face? Why aren’t you like, your say-do gap is too big when you’re talking to the commercial sector. Yeah, you’re right. It is. I don’t know if anybody’s looked like, you know, by recent accounts, we’re like, you know, 1.1 million people in the United States Army. There’s, you know, I’m gonna tell you right now, you get a group of 100 people together at any event, you go bowling with 100 people, you’re gonna have like 80 of them that are awesome, you’re gonna have 10 of, you know, 10 of them that are like your best friends for life, and you’re gonna have 10 of them that are communists. So you got like, now you expand that, you know, to something the size of the Army, and then you’re in you’re dealing with legitimate real honest perspectives on how to do things differently, right? David and statute policy regulation or like, hey, you see this, but you don’t see these other five steps over here that are need to have to occur. And you can debate and argue all you want about process. And I’ll be the first one to line up. Like I’m a huge, like raging against the machine fan grew up with a mohawk. I like, you will not find a, a burn it down guy more than me in terms of like, you know, the man in the system. But. when you are running an organization that is one of the largest corporate entities in the world, corporate in the little C sense, that has a unique mission with a monopoly on violence at the behest of like the national command authority, but you damn well need some process. You need some deliberate activities involved in that. And you’re also moving tremendous amounts of taxpayer money. So you have to understand all of those perspectives and at least assume that everybody’s coming to you from a place of good. In fact, you have to figure out who the Americans are, who the Americans. And you gotta work around that too. And that’s just normal human business. But you have to work through all three of those communities. And AAL was in this kind of very unique geographical position. The analogy I often use with people is, the Army and the DOD is this massive and complex machine. We were a small, or AAL is a small cog that touches a bunch of gear. big flywheel gears, but we’re one of those little, kind of key little cogs that’s like hitting multiple different points in that spectrum. And you can’t get out of balance with any of those. You actually have to balance those relationships and those communication flows with everybody and be mindful that you don’t have a monopoly on the right idea. That’s one of our basic thesis points is no one has a monopoly on the right idea. Whether that is how to do business, how to spend money, the technology to pick, you’re just offering an alternative solution and you’re trying to drive that to a point of deliberate decision for the army. In theory, everybody in that circle that I described, requirements of acquisition and development, they have some component of that. We just happen to have like a little piece of all. Does that make sense? So, I’m gonna go ahead and start with the question of how do you make a decision?

ACME General: Yeah, that makes sense. In the minute we have left, what advice do you have for the next director, and how would you extend that to other leaders in the DODX community?

JW: Well, so I can tell you right now, the next directot, the current director, if you will, is Dr. Casey Farley. She was my deputy director, uh, and I was very fortunate to be able to kind of pick my successor. So we upfleeted Casey. This is a little bit of a change. She’s, you know, she is a, uh, you know, she’s a GS civilian where I was, you know, I was a military guy and you know, there’s, you gotta have, you gotta have like street cred both on the civilian and the military side in this world as well. And she’s, I think she’s going to crush it. She’s also the foremost expert on Cibber and the entire DOD. I will say that with absolutely no compunction at all. She is a well-sought out expert on Cibber and operating with small businesses. Like she’s a virologist by trade, so she’s actually an S&T person, but she really like lasered in on how to use different resourcing mechanisms to support like small business and really large non-traditions. So Casey’s getting… Casey’s got all the advice in the world. But a couple things. Number one, your people are everything. The people you work with are everything. So again, there’s no wasted second or microsecond on people you bring in, people you move out. And you can extrapolate that to the people you work with. You make your investment choices, yes, based on priority, on need, tech capability, but at the end of the day, I’m gonna look a guy, I’m gonna look a CEO in the eye of that guy or that gal, and I’m like, okay, I trust you. Like you’re going to deliver. You want people that want that ball and want to carry it. And you want to work and you want to match them. You want to try to push each other. So it’s how you look at the human dimension, I think is a pretty critical thing. Alex Moore, a shot caller for AGC down in Austin. Super, super capable guy, really well known kind of in the private capital space. long time counselor guy. He, he and I were talking down here in Tampa and that’s kind of his mindset too. You know, there’s a lot of numbers, a lot of quant guys, if you will, there’s a lot of tech guys, but at some point you really just got to, you’re betting on people, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re making that bet. So honing that edge and that radar is critical. The other thing I’m telling you, and this is like really specific to the DOD, All of these things that we kind of have been talking about in terms of, you know, transformation, capability, technology, all those things. Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is continue to supply an asymmetric, unfair advantage to the United States. If you don’t attack that problem, like you would attack a combat problem, an operational problem, if you don’t synchronize that and understand that at the command level, That’s a problem. Like that is a flat problem. And you can’t like, as a combat guy, as an operational guy, you’re used to just reaching your hand out and something hands you stuff and you go, dude, then you bitch about it, you didn’t like, like, ah, but I really wanted it over here. I’m gonna do the button this way or that. You can’t play that, we can’t play that game. Technology moves too fast. You have to solve your problems and help the army solve bigger problems, which is. Ultimately, I want my son, if and when he joins the army, I want a better army than I left. So you have to treat these things, even if you’re not personally in like one of these kind of transformation domains, you have to treat that as though that is a command issue. If you are in a command, so this is one of the discussion points we have with STOCOM this week. STOCOM for the DoD should be attacking the problem of transformation modernization. The whole like, hey, we got to catch up or we got to stay even. That shit doesn’t work in the world. You have to be better than. So if you’re not treating that like a life or death combat problem, just like you’re deploying like a ranger company somewhere, you’re pushing a steel platoon somewhere, you’ve got a tier one asset going somewhere, if you’re not treating how you’re getting them that asymmetric advantage and you’re maintaining technological supremacy, capability supremacy, like you’re wrong. I’ll stand by that all day long. So I think it is a leadership and command problem in terms of transformation. And it cannot just be components or slices of the DOD. It’s gotta be something, if you’re a leader moving up through the chain of matriculating up that chain, whether you’re a non-commissioned officer or an officer or a civilian, you need to be figuring out how are you making the force better? What are you doing right now that’s gonna be better for the person that comes after you? or that’s a process, a mindset, a thing, capability, technology, but that feeds directly into your ability to execute modernization and transformation activities. That’s just kind of a broad spectrum piece. For the businesses that I’ve worked with, quite a few at this point, kind of getting into well into the thousands that I’ve looked at deep, at some level of depth at my level. One, thank you for wanting to work with us. Like that’s straight up. Two, like get aggressive about asking questions. Like the DoD is not awesome at trying to work with industry writ large. Anything that like an AppWorks does, a DIU, AAL, ASALT or, you know, like Crane Labs, anybody that’s associated with the DoD, they try but their footprint’s really small compared to the Galactica. problems of the DoD and the even larger commercial ecosphere. Get aggressive about asking questions. Go find the people that will help onboard you into the system and develop personal relationships with them. Not all are made equal. Because you had a bad experience with the Navy doesn’t mean the Air Force isn’t going to be awesome because you struggled with an aftworks, Sibber or stratified doesn’t mean that AAL is not going to listen to you. When AAL doesn’t doesn’t down select you and you thought you had the best solution in the world But we just we pick wrong or whatever which by the way, we’ve done that before we We’ve we’ve made mistakes too or at least like hey, we could have probably found a better solution than what we did that happens Maintain that that kind of relationship and oh by the way, don’t you know? Don’t don’t just like hey, I’ve talked to a couple guys in the army Therefore I’m working with the army and you know, I’m on the way to a billion dollar contract No, you actually got to like develop your business like All those things you learned and, you know, getting your MBA or all those things that people tell you about on this, like the masterclasses you get on YouTube, that shit’s true. You actually have to do those things to be a business. And you just have to treat the DOD in a slightly different way in terms of how you work with them. I’m a huge believer if you’re a venture capitalist, like you have a more critical role in national security now than you ever have. If you’re, if you’re in the private capital space, whether if you were a VC or a PE person. you have the ability to fundamentally, positively affect our national security and our national interests if you choose to do so. If you are going to choose to do so, educate yourself on how you want to do that, develop the relationships within the DoD on how you can interface, understand our priorities, understand what we need, and how you can best apply pressure and shaping through ways that you can in the military, you can’t from like a business. So all of those activities, what I just kind of described is like, hey, this is all the shit you have in America that you need to have like come together for the common defense. So that’s sort of my kind of walk off piece of advice to anybody is like, you all have a role to play, figure out what that is. And don’t kind of accept the envelope somebody gave you as like, this is your box to operate, keep pushing those limits forward and just get better at every rep.

ACME General: I think that is a great note to end on Jay. Thank you so much for joining us and good luck in your next move.

JW: Thanks a lot Ken, I appreciate it.

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