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SOCOM explores new Tactical Mission Network concept

A US Air Force Special Operations Weather Technician sends intelligence to the Reconnaissance Operations Center during the Marine's Reconnaissance Team Leader Course's final exercise on 31 October 2017. SOCOM is soliciting industry proposals to improve its Global Analytics Platform to process, exploit, and disseminate battlefield intelligence. (US Department of Defense )

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is exploring a new edge networking concept, focused on operationalising chat and data-sharing environments patterned closely after commercial applications like WhatsApp, Signal and Facebook Messenger.

The concept, dubbed within the command as the Tactical Mission Network, from a technology perspective is centred around “a commercially cloud-hosted set of collaboration tools, where we have a file share chat, instant messenger, [and data] typing for basic mapping that allows [partner nations] to consume at the edge and collaborate,” US Army Colonel Joseph Pishock, director of global networks and services (J63) at USSOCOM, said.

The network concept being fleshed out by Col Pishock and others in the command is predominantly focused on enabling USSOCOM's security forces assistance (SFA) missions and other non-clandestine ‘white' operations carried out by US special operations units worldwide.

“USSOCOM exists, in large part, to make sure that we don't get into war by partnering” with allied forces and host nations, according to Pishock. A majority of that combat diplomacy practiced by special operations teams “happens with a cell phone in your hand and by means of a commercial [application] like WhatsApp, Signal, [and] Facebook Messenger,” he said during a May briefing, explaining the thinking behind the Tactical Mission Network concept.

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