Whats on the 2019 wishlist for JSOC Special Missions Units?

U.S. Navy SEALs and AFSOC members conduct military jump operations during exercise TRIDENT 18-4 at Hurlburt Field, Florida. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg)

In the never-ending quest to remain technologically ahead of current and future rivals, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has assembled two documents containing lists of capabilities and technologies that will enable its special operators to dominate the battlefield.

More specifically, the JSOC documents, which are titled Special Operations Forces (SOF) Capability and Technology Interest Items, have been issued to the industry, academia, and national technology labs in two versions (one classified and one unclassified). According to the JSOC release, the ultimate objective of the wishlists is “to provide industry the ability to request the 2019 JSOC Capability and Technology Interest Items list in order to help focus industry research and development decisions toward JSOC’s unique interests; to provide an overview of the planned events for 2019; and to briefly discuss various ways of industry engagement with SOCOM and JSOC.”

The unclassified version states an interest in the following categories:

1. Advanced Analytics
2. Breaching
3. Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives
4. Communications
5. Electronic Warfare
6. Explosive Ordinance Disposal
7. Fire Support
8. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
9. Knowledge Management
10. Mobility
11. Power and Energy
12. Situational Awareness
13. Soldier Survival
14. Target Engagement
15. Other Need Areas

According to the command, its mission is “to conduct studies; training; exercises; research, development, testing, and evaluation; and acquisition and procurement to ensure interoperability among SOF, general purpose forces, and interagency and foreign partners.” Although correct, that bureaucratic description shouldn’t confuse you about JSOC’s true character: JSOC is the national counterterrorism and emergency force. The command is composed of Delta Force, SEAL Team 6, the Intelligence Support Activity, and the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. It has been the go-to force since the early 1980s.

JSOC’s cooperation with the industry and other outside players isn’t a new concept. In his memoir, “The Mission, The Men, and Me,” Col. Pete Blaber described how in the weeks preceding the 9/11 attacks, Delta Force operators went to Silicon Valley to consult with industry experts on how to make operators more lethal and effective on the battlefield.

It is important, however, to remember that one of the five SOF Truths is: “Humans are more important than hardware.” At some point, technology will fail. That is one main reason why SOF units focus so much of their selection and assessment processes to find candidates who are adaptable and independent thinkers.

JSOC representatives will be attending both the SOF Industry Conference 2019, which will take place in May in Tampa, Florida, and the SOF Warrior Operational Requirements Discussion Symposium (SWORDS), which will be held in the fall.


About Stavros Atlamazoglou

Having completed his national service in the Greek army, serving with the 575th Marines Battalion and Army HQ, Stavros is pursuing his passion for history, international affairs, and words at the Johns Hopkins University. You will usually find him on the top of a mountain admiring the view and wondering how he got there.