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Saab Global

Voices from Saab: Two Weeks on the Ground with U.S. CENTCOM

3 min read

Hear from Saab’s Devaki Raj as she traveled with CENTCOM’s innovation team to tour their ongoing operations in the Middle East. 

For two weeks in March, I had the honor of spending time with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) team in the Middle East to learn more about their mission, technology and needs in theatre. As the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence officer in Saab, Inc.’s Strategy Office, this tour epitomized the dialogue we aim to create with our customers and end users, especially through our new Skapa initiative.

During my time in the Middle East, I was thrilled to join CENTCOM’s Commander, General Kurilla, and Chief Technology Officer, Schuyler Moore, in addition to several other leaders focused on defense technologies. From eating at base dining halls to sharing interim housing facilities, we were truly embedded into CENTCOM. It was such a privilege to meet and spend time with so many incredible officers and soldiers from all backgrounds.


CENTCOM is one of eleven unified commands of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and one of my biggest takeaways was how fully committed CENTCOM is to harnessing advanced technologies to enable greater security in its area of operations (AOR)

This “central” AOR is more diverse than you might think, spanning three continents, 21 nations, and more than four million square miles. It is populated by more than 560 million people who practice multiple religions and speak 20 languages, not including the hundreds of dialogues from region to region. For the CENTCOM team, which is responsible for working in such diverse conditions, achieving innovative solutions that address evolving risks and conflicts in real time is imperative. CENTCOM’s innovation space is not only about building better defense technologies, but also building better analysts, warfighters and leaders. It’s about supporting the men and women who risk their lives every day. 

At Skapa, we are continuously focused on innovating, challenging the expected, and delivering impactful solutions at a fast pace, ensuring our front-line defenders are equipped with the very best. Working closely with CENTCOM, especially Colonel Huston, General Cogbill, Major Cercy and MSG Davis, our guides on this tour, provided a new perspective on how we can better collaborate on future opportunities.

This trip was just the beginning. Skapa is well-positioned to aid CENTCOM in its efforts to adopt these technologies. Understanding their needs, both from a high-level perspective and the operators themselves, will help us elevate and refine our efforts to create the best possible solutions to complex challenges. We will work closely with our customers – both within CENTCOM and the entire U.S. Department of Defense – to create a productive dialogue on what’s really needed in the AI and machine learning spaces, and how we might better incorporate end-user feedback in our existing and future solutions.

Article author


Devaki Raj

Chief Digital and AI Officer, Saab, Inc.