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Director, Strategic Capabilities Office visits USTRANSCOM

Dr. William B. Roper, director, Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office, speaks to members of U.S. Transportation Command and its component commands June 13 in the Seay Auditorium. Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

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Dr. William B. Roper, director, Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office, spoke to members of U.S. Transportation Command and its component commands June 13 in the Seay Auditorium.

Roper was the ninth guest in USTRANSCOM's 30-4-30 Distinguished Speaker Series, an initiative to celebrate the command's 30th anniversary in October 2017. Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, USTRANSCOM commander, has invited 30 four-star general officer, flag officer and equivalent strategic senior leaders to speak about how they view the globe, linkages between USTRANSCOM's and the leader's organization, and a vision for USTRANSCOM partnerships.

Roper is the founding director of the SCO. Established in 2012 by then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, the SCO imagines new uses of existing government and commercial systems, extending their shelf-life and restoring surprise to the military’s playbook.

During his remarks, Roper said Carter asked him to get the department ready to win tomorrow’s war.

“Across the military, our opponents believe we’re predictable,” said Roper, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t be dominant.”

Roper advocated a data-centric culture to evolve the department and bring back surprise by blurring the domains of conflict, teaming systems and using commercial technologies.

“Learning is the key to beating your opponent,” he said. “Once you have data, you can start learning.”

While here, Roper also met with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, deputy commander, USTRANSCOM, and participated in a strategic roundtable with command senior leaders.

Roper previously served as acting chief architect at the Missile Defense Agency, and as a missile defense advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory.


Both a Truman and Rhodes Scholar, he graduated with highest honor from Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s and master’s in physics, and a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University, where he specialized in string theory.

His awards include the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Secretary’s Award for Excellence, USD/AT&L Award for Innovation, MDA’s Innovation and Technology Awards and MDA’s Contractor of the Year.

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