I am all for developing and fielding the best technology to accomplish the mission. These technologies appear to be very innovative and "unconventional." But we need to ensure we are investing with equal if not greater priority in people and most importantly their training and education as well as continuous and long term deployment of the US or special warfare force overseas. And we should keep in mind that even though some cutting edge technology can be defined as unconventional does it not mean that it is necessarily suited for unconventional warfare. It may be but then again it may not be. But now that unconventional warfare is regaining notoriety, importance and priority there will be a great push to connect everything to unconventional warfare just as we did counterterrorism after 9-11. The truth is we still need to invest in counterterrorism technology as well as training and education. What we need to do is ensure we have balanced investment across all the SOF disciplines and not keep chasing the shiny new thing (or in the case of UW - the old traditional thing). Yes I am a strong proponent of and believer in UW but I am a bigger believer in all the disciplines of SOF as well as our conventional forces and capabilities. We need to balance our investment across the entire force and not become single focused on one type or another, i.e., we cannot keep chasing the shiny thing and it will be counterproductive if UW becomes that shiny new thing at the expense of the other disciplines.
Socom seeks unconventional technology
Published: | Updated:
Published: | Updated:
Always looking to give commandos an edge in combat, U.S. Special Operations Command has put out its latest technology and capabilities wish list, calling for, among other things, a see-through-the-wall device, equipment that can disable vehicles without harming occupants and technology that can remotely gauge an individual’s credibility through physical characteristics.
Several times a year, the command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, puts out requests for information for a variety of goods and services it feels would serve commandos. This latest request is for research and development organizations, private industry and academia that might have technologies to display during an upcoming Technical Experimentation Collaboration event in June.
Being held at the Atterbrury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations in Indiana from June 16-19, the event is geared to highlighting technologies supporting urban and unconventional warfare, according to the request.
Unconventional warfare, a core activity for Army commandos, is described as “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area, according to the military’s Joint Publication 3-05.
To that end, Socom wants to “explore emerging technology solutions and revolutionary improvements in relevant technologies,” according to the request, posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
The command is seeking candidates who can provide potential solutions in a number of areas, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, communications, target engagement, unmanned systems and scalable effect weapons.
Among the specific solutions Socom wants are:
A “see-through-the-wall” device that allows the detection of hidden chambers in buildings and instantly creates a map of a room.
Wearable omnidirectional antenna technology for dismounted operators.
Scalable Effect Weapons that can subdue or incapacitate without killing single or multiple targets in closed and open environments, stop or disable moving vehicles without killing the occupants and deterrent, control or distraction technologies for use against dogs.
Man-portable language translation devices.
Automated interview transcription.
A common visual augmentation device allowing users to wear a single pair of eye and/or sunglasses which display all visibly consumable data and allow normal vision.
Credibility assessment technology to analyze physical credibility indicators to perform remote assessment of individuals.
Lightweight 5.56mm/7.62mm crew-served and automatic weapons ammunition.
Socom has been running the collaborations for about a decade, Lisa Sanders, then head of Socom’s Science & Technology department, told the Tribune last year. Three or four times a year, the command puts out the call for innovations to be assessed and holds events where operators try things out. Aside from the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, they are usually held at the Avon Park Air Force Range and Camp Roberts in California.
“This is a chance for them to give it to operators, to try it and see how it works, then give positive feedback,” Sanders said in an interview last year.
The program is a rare opportunity for people to take their ideas from the pristine environment of a lab to see how it works in a field environment, Sanders said.
The urban training center offers a mini urban and rural environment, said Sanders, complete with a mini city hospital that has a power plant, laundry and tunnels.
“You can practice or assess how things work for an operator in close quarters,” said Sanders. The tunnels allow commandos to “go underground and see if signals are affected.”
Interested parties must present solutions in the mid-level of technology readiness, ranging from active research and development to prototypes ready for demonstration. They have until April 2 to submit a nomination package, according to the request. After a review, the government may invite select candidates to demonstrate their technologies.
Those selected must be self-sufficient, according to the request, pay for their own submission and transportation and all costs associated with the experiments.
Socom will make invitations based on the extent to which the technology represents a potential capability increase for commandos, as well as technical maturity, relevance and adaptability to military operations and missions, relevance to operational needs and to the focus area.