SOFIC NEWS: Special operators must learn to exist without “ties”
air force photo
TAMPA, Florida— After two decades of relatively free movement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Army’s elite commandos will have to learn to operate in contested environments without being “tethered” to lines of support.
These lines of support can be anything from traditional logistics systems to radio waves that allow special operations forces and their equipment to link to higher headquarters, technology change officials said May 16. development at Special Operations Command.
“The term ‘contested logistics’ is at the top of a lot of our discussions right now,” Col. Joseph Blanton, SOCOM program executive officer for SOF Support Activity, told reporters at the industry conference. special operations forces in Tampa, Florida.
Supplies needed in Iraq and Afghanistan were either delivered to forces operating on the ground or organized, Blanton said. “Now that we’re looking to enter contested environments, how are we going to do that?” He asked.
SOCOM is looking for new ways to push supplies to the tactical edge, called the “autonomous logistics concept.” His office created a new program manager position to help find solutions, he said.
“We’re certainly interested in hearing from the industry what’s within the realm of possibility,” he said. The solutions could either be stealthy ways of delivering supplies to units operating in austere environments or technologies that help them manufacture their own supplies on site, he added, mentioning 3D printing as something that has been done in forward operating bases for the past 20 years and could be part of the solution in the future.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of logistics as Russia struggles to maintain its own supply lines, Blanton said.
“If you go in and you run out of logistical support, it can end an operation or thwart an operation,” Blanton said.
Everyone across the U.S. military sees the Russian-Ukrainian war as a contested environment and seeks to learn from it, Blanton said. “What were those challenges and what can we anticipate in our future operating environment that we can learn from today to start piloting these hardware solutions?” he said.
SOCOM is only at the beginning of considering what logistics will look like in future operations, Blanton said.
David Breede, director of the special reconnaissance program, said the SOCOM logistics community came together last month “to look at each other and identify what we are going to expect in the future. How do you support it? And then what are the current capacities.
The next step will be to sort through what was learned at the meeting and then identify the capability gaps, Breede added.
Breede’s office – which, among other technologies, has sensors in its portfolio – is considering being “disconnected from radio frequencies”, he said.
“Over the past 20 years, this [radio frequency] the environment was not much contested,” he said. The sensor suites his office develops — whether unattended ground sensors or mounted on air or ground vehicles — will be in a contested environment, he said.
“We know the environment will be more contested, more crowded and being able to operate without that RF environment is a goal,” he said.
“It’s a difficult problem,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s not something we can do now,” he added.
Topics: Special operations