Welcome Aboard, Capt. Plew! NavalX has a New Director – navy.mil

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The ceremony welcomed new NavalX Director Capt. Casey Plew, who took the reins from Capt. Benjamin Van Buskirk. Vice Adm. Frank Morley, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RDA), and Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, chief of naval research, attended the event.

“NavalX is a valuable component of ONR that inspires and empowers the naval workforce to rapidly deliver high-impact capabilities across the Department of Defense [DoD], by connecting them with stakeholders across the acquisition ecosystem and by leveraging the innovation pipeline,” said Selby. “These stakeholders include the Naval Research and Development Establishment, the Department of the Navy [DoN] and partners in industry and academia.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Capt. Plew and to say thank you and well done to Capt. Van Buskirk,” he continued. “Capt. Van Buskirk has done an outstanding job in expanding the capabilities and growing the influence of NavalX, which has proven itself as a disruptive force for good within ONR and the DoN as a whole.”

NavalX serves the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as an innovation and agility cell, supporting and connecting initiatives across the DoD. The organization enables collaboration; accelerates the pace of discovery, learning and experimentation; and fosters the naval workforce’s capacity for innovation and agility. It gives Sailors, Marines and DoN civilians valuable tools, training and resources for solving problems and translating ideas into actionable solutions.

This allows naval organizations like ONR to better serve warfighter needs by linking individuals who promote innovative ideas with experts who can experiment with those ideas, invest in them or help turn them into something tangible for the Navy and Marine Corps.

One of NavalX’s most important methods for doing this is its Tech Bridge network, which spans 18 national and international locations. The network is designed to bridge the gap between the DoN and emerging entities like startups, small businesses, academia, nonprofits and private capital that aren’t traditionally part of the military development and acquisition process.

“Capt. Van Buskirk has done an outstanding job of taking NavalX from a start-up environment to an established organization with codified processes and procedures for innovation,” said Plew. “I look forward to building on the valuable work he’s done by using those processes to bolster innovation partnerships, find game-changing ideas and technologies, get them into requirements for acquisition, and ultimately deliver them as capabilities to warfighters.”

Prior to assuming the role of director, Plew was at NavalX supporting the transition and combining of the ASN RDA agility cell efforts with the ONR technology-acceleration cell efforts. Before that, he served as commanding officer of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, in Virginia.

Plew has a bachelor’s in history from Oregon State University, a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and a master of business administration from the Naval Postgraduate School.

He succeeds Van Buskirk, a naval aviator with extensive experience in technology innovation.

During his tenure as NavalX director, Van Buskirk oversaw impressive growth, including expanding the Tech Bridge network to 18 locations. Most recently, the London Tech Bridge celebrated its grand opening in June.

Van Buskirk also led the transition of NavalX from a small, independent organization reporting to ASN RDA to an entity under ONR’s command structure. Though still small and reporting to ASN RDA, Van Buskirk said being a part of ONR gives NavalX a budget, the ability to hire people, and access to ONR’s legal and contracting departments.

“Capt. Plew is the ideal person to scale up NavalX and grow its capabilities within the acquisition world,” said Van Buskirk. “He has two decades of experience as an acquisition professional, has been a resource sponsor, has overseen large budgets and has served as commanding officer of a warfare center. He brings a valuable perspective that will help NavalX reach the next level.”
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