KEY POINTS

  • SOCOM plans to equip teams with advanced smart-soldier gear
  • The project is called the Hyper Enabled Operator 
  • The concept will provide an integrated smart tactical system

U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) plans to equip small isolated teams with advanced smart-soldier gear to keep them connected with intel assets all over the world. The gear part of the Hyper Enabled Operator concept can even use commercial phone networks.

According to National Defense, officials announced in a statement Tuesday that the Hyper Enabled Operator program is making progress. The announcement was made at the National Defense Industrial Association's VSOFIC 2020 industry conference by the director of SOCOM's Joint Acquisition Task Force, Colonel Ryan Barnes.

The Hyper Enabled Operator is a concept designed to combine existing data analytics, internet of things and communication technology into an integrated smart tactical system that allows isolated teams of special ops personnel to collect and analyze intelligence. The smart-soldier gear will enable special operations troops to make fast decisions on the battlefield based on enhanced cognitive capabilities. The gear will equip teams operating in an austere, remote environment.

Some of the technologies that will be integrated into the smart-soldier gear, such as facial recognition systems and the internet of things, already exist in the commercial space. SOCOM’s Hyper Enabled Operator concept will integrate government-off-the-shelf and commercial-off-the-shelf materials into a consolidated system capable of analyzing data real-time. The older technology could take hours or days to analyze the same amount of data.

Small, isolated teams equipped with the smart-soldier gear will be able to adapt fast to any changes in the environment. The system will still work even in congested or contested environments if an operator moves in any part of the world.

Previously, the U.S. Army had developed Nett Warrior, a smartphone-based smart-soldier equipment that connects into tactical networks in order to provide access to battlefield sensors such as drone feeds.

According to Military.com, SOCOM’s Hyper Enabled Operator concept is emerging out of a failed 2013 Iron Man suit concept that was designed to provide special ops a futuristic suit with capabilities for enhanced physical performance and full-body armor protection. However, the project had to be abandoned because today’s technology doesn’t allow such capabilities yet.

SOCOM plans to assess the smart-soldier gear over the next year. If the system is proving to be effective, the command will perform a field assessment with a deployed unit.

U.S. Special Forces troops preparing to leave a base in Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces soldiers are shown talking to one another before leaving their base in Helmand, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Omar Sobhani