USSOCOM’s charter calls for near surgical precision; requiring that teams have as complete knowledge of their AOR, area of responsibility, as technology will allow. Cultural, language, situational awareness, surveillance and reconnaissance are essential to mission success.
The need to understand dictates that USSOCOM have access to integrated enabling technologies to fully support C4ISR and shortening the kill chain. These technologies include but are not limited to; attended and unattended sensors; computational enhancements – hardware and data mining; hostile force tag, track and locate (TTL); biometric data collection and analysis; special operations tactical video systems or SOTVS; Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) are some of the active projects that address SOCOM’s need to “Understand.”
For example, attended and unattended sensors are very much in vogue and you can be assured that development will continue to accelerate.
Sensors give SOF a standoff capability and enhance the intelligence collection function. As development of sensors accelerate, you’ll see them play an increasing role as a “soft” force multiplier.
The increasing deployment and employment of sensor technologies will place heavy demands on supporting technologies, like concealment. How do operators effectively conceal the devices used to collect, audio, video, data, positional and seismic data. Moreover, how will that data collection be transmitted to Command and Control or C2.
Should sensors continuously transmit data collected? An interesting question in that continuous transmissions will dramatically increase the risk of detection by an adversary with highly evolved SIGINT capabilities. Or, should sensors be periodically polled by a UAV or low orbiting platform. How do we mitigate line-of-sight constraints or propagation anomalies?
Going further, what systems will be required to quickly aggregate and correlate data, from potentially hundreds of sources, so that C2 is enhanced and operators are delivered near realtime situational awareness.
These needs and concerns are representative of the challanges USSOCOM will face in the years to come. Much of their developments will be directly transferable to the “Big” Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security.
Will Congress slash budgets as they struggle with increasing and debilitating budget deficits. Will they recognize the benefits that the broader economy will derive from the advances in communications, trauma care, optics, mobility and computation needed to support the USSOCOM mission?
Only time will tell, but from this blogger’s perspective the Net Present Value (NPV) of a robust and well thoughtout Defense Budget will exceed that of mindless slashing for the sake of expediency.