SOCOM has higher technology in mind for special ops forces

SAN DIEGO'They engage in covert operations, often with faces painted black, and operate in Iraq in the dead of night, parachuting from helicopters and capturing and killing terrorists.

But special operations forces are on the path of transformation, and that transformation entails improving their technology processes, said Vice Adm. Eric T. Olson, deputy commander of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

"We've invested heavily in top-notch systems and have reduced our load from five to six radios per person to two to three radios per person," Olson told an audience today at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's West 2006 show, referring to special operations forces deployed around the world.

SOCOM'established in 1987 as a joint, unified command to lead, plan and execute global operations against terrorist networks'has a rapid acquisition process which has seen equipment for force protection and specialized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sensors fielded in as little as seven days, Olson said.

The command has partnered with the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation to conceptualize the Stiletto/Wolf ship, a prototype vessel that operates at high speeds and includes an electronic keel that was created for mission reconfiguration and clustered supercomputing and the capability to launch UAVs. The Stiletto is on display during the conference.

Still, Olson told the audience that SOCOM needs more bandwidth to run streaming videos and an ever-growing data flow. Olson said special operations forces are also looking for Web-based collaboration software systems and the capability to conduct audio chats and whiteboarding files.

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