Battlespace Tech

Special Forces eye the latest in urban warfare technology

The U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to round up and test seemingly the full range of the latest technology tools of urban warfare, from applications that let forces “see through walls” to holographic visualization tools.

The command has issued a Request for Information as part of an experimentation and collaboration effort to identify effective technologies for urban and unconventional warfare and get them into the field as quickly as possible.

Specifically, the command is looking for tools that can help counter the asymmetric tactics common in many of today’s hot spots in the Middle East and around the world. The solicitation notes that the Pentagon defines unconventional warfare as actions “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.”

A couple of the key technology areas the command wants to explore during its experimentation events include:

Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

This includes ground ISR for urban environments made up of sensors, video and tags, command and control capability and a low probability of detection (LPD). Socom also is interested in hidden chamber detection in buildings, such as a “see through the wall” device or tool that instantly creates a map of a room, as well as situational awareness tools that can combine mission planning data, GPS data, handheld radios and other intelligence tools in one device.


Stealth is always important, so Socom is interested in communications technologies with a low detection and interception rate. Another item on its list is a wearable omnidirectional antenna technology for dismounted soldiers. And the command wants to experiment with a ruggedized GPS device with anti-spoofing certification, at least 3G of memory, a resolution of 272 by 480 pixels, color touchscreen, high speed USB/National Maritime Electronics Association interface, wireless unit‐to‐unit data sharing, and waypoint and route storage.

The solicitation also lays out the specifications for weapons systems and armor to be tested, as well as some other technologies, such as man‐portable language translators that are in the form of either lightweight handhelds or wearable devices, and explosives detection devices. Along the lines of language translation, the event organizers also are interested in automated interview transcripts.

A number of other technologies the military has shown interest in before also could play into the experimentation events, according to the solicitation. Among them: Friendly and host-nation force handheld tracking devices capable of receiving Iridium and GSM data from other handheld devices;  a common visual augmentation device that can be worn as a pair of eye/sun glasses to display visual data while allowing normal vision; social network analysis tools and algorithms that can identify social media trends and predict group-level actions; 3‐D table/holographic visualization for command and control; and 3D technologies that provide a multidimensional view of an area of interest.             

Industry, academia, individuals and government labs are invited to submit technologies to Socom. Responses to the solicitation are due by April 2.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

Defense Systems Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.