Special Ops Technologists Have Unique Wish List

By Stew Magnuson

xThe U.S. Special Operations Command’s advanced technology directorate has a long list of items it wants to put in the hands of elite commando teams during clandestine missions.

Richard Chandler, who heads the directorate, said the three overarching needs are in advanced power sources, command, control, computers and intelligence and “signature management,” which is shorthand for keeping clandestine operators and their equipment hidden from the enemy.

Here is a partial shopping list.

Advanced Power Systems. SOCOM, like most of the military, is looking for improved batteries. Of particular interest are micro-batteries with extended duration that can fit into small “tagging, tracking and locating” devices. These tags might secretly be attached to a person or vehicle.

Signature Management. The directorate is looking for any technology in the “low-probability-of-intercept/low-probability-of-detec-tion” category that can help mask operators and their equipment.

That includes suppressing infrared and seismic signatures as well as what can be heard, seen and even smelled, Chandler said.
Of particular interest is a noise suppression technology “that can drastically reduce the sound of medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicle engines.”

Tracking, Tagging and Locating. Breaking up terrorist networks has been a prime mission for special operators. Finding and following a foot soldier in a cell can lead to bigger fish. Tags that can be secretly attached to a person or objects are needed to help track suspects — the smaller and less noticeable the better. These tags should function in all environments: jungle, desert, maritime, mountain and polar.

The directorate also needs sensors that can track “natural signatures” such as unique biometrics, mechanical defects — perhaps in a car engine — and even stains and perfumes.

Warrior Systems. SOCOM is looking for “tunable weapons,” which can adjust from nonlethal to something more powerful. Like the Star Trek phasers of science fiction, such a weapon could presumably go from “stun” to “kill.” Such a weapon should “accommodate a broad variety of missions while limiting or eliminating collateral damage and casualties.”

Weather and Mobility. While on tactical missions, special operators need accurate weather forecasting. The directorate has such devices but is looking for improvements.

They may also need to receive ammunition or other supplies while behind enemy lines. SOCOM is searching for an advanced precision re-supply airdrop system capable of avoiding anti-aircraft weapons in areas “which denied use of airspace occurs due to political concerns.”

lease email your comments to SMagnuson@ndia.org

Topics: Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict, SOF Weapons Systems

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