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SOCom’s wish list includes propaganda drones, building a better commando

By Howard Altman
Published: December 26, 2017 Updated: December 26, 2017 at 06:52 PM
U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for technologies including true-color night vision goggles to replace the eerie green glow of current equipment. This image was taken during a U.S. Air Force exercise in August. [Air Force]

TAMPA ó As people take stock of their new holiday gifts, the folks at U.S. Special Operations Command are waiting to see if anyone will check items off their list of whiz-bang commando gear.

SOComís latest wish list is focused on optics, long-range facial recognition, drugs and technologies to improve the brain, and propaganda.

The request mentions no specific adversaries, but among the technologies sought are pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods of enhancing commando cognitive abilities, gear that will allow snipers to positively identify targets at and beyond the effective range of sniper rounds, and drones that can drop Wi-Fi systems and other tools behind lines to spread information.

Interested parties have until Jan. 12 to submit their ideas. More information is available by contacting [email protected] or at (813) 826-4646.

SOCom, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, spends billions of dollars every year on goods and services for Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force, Green Berets and Rangers, Marine Raiders and Air Force commandos.

A major part of the commandís mission is developing new gear. To help meet that goal, it solicits ideas and hosts technical experimentation events so innovators can get their ideas into the hands of the people who will use them.

The latest request for information seeks candidates from research and development organizations, private industry and academia interested in showcasing their ideas at the SOCom Technical Experimentation Event to be held from March 26 to March 30 at the Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations in Indiana.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, commandos have been at the forefront of U.S. military operations. But with such a heavy load, the force of nearly 70,000 is strained.

To help offset that, SOCom is seeking ways to make the human body function more effectively through what is known as neuroenhancement and neuromodulation technologies. The command also is seeking medical therapies for the nervous system to help restore function, relieve pain and control symptoms.

SOCom also is looking to expand the tools available to commandos.

One objective is to track high-value targets ó enemy leaders or other important people such as al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, killed in a 2011 Navy SEAL raid.

So the command is seeking long-range facial identification technology that can work in areas with poor or no communications. The technology would match potential targets against a watch list, allow the user to edit the watch list, and correct for turbulence and other conditions for ranges greater than 500 meters.

Commandos also are responsible for what the military calls military information support operations, or psychological operations, including whatís better known as propaganda.

Toward this end, SOCom is seeking drones that can enter heavily defended airspace or terrain to disseminate information on the battlefield. The command is looking for drones that can make precision leaflet drops, carry and place Wi-Fi transponders and broadcast equipment anywhere on the globe itís needed.

SOCom is seeking other capabilities as well, like true-color night vision equipment that will eventually replace the eerie green glowing images now in use, and technologies that will improve the abilities of troops that call in airstrikes ó called Joint Terminal Attack Controllers ó to find and point out targets.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.