SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Afghanistan Still Job No. 1, TALOS Suit a Priority
UPDATES: To restore photos, links, tags; also fixes name of Talos suit to Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit.
WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) says Afghanistan continues to be the most important operational region for his people even as Western forces begin a scheduled troop drawdown after more than a dozen years of war.
“Afghanistan is, and will remain, my Number One war fighting priority,” Admiral William McRaven told a defense industry symposium in Washington Tuesday (February 10).
U.S. and coalition allies are slated to end their combat role in Afghanistan by year’s end and troubled negotiations between Washington and the Afghan government over how many – if any – U.S. troops remain in country are still up in the air.
But no matter how many special ops troops remain in Afghanistan, “our future military-to-military engagement with the Afghans will remain vital in the region,” McRaven told the opening session of the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA).
McRaven stressed that Spec Ops’ role will be largely one of training and advising Afghan National Security Forces, which took the lead for security across the country in June.
On other issues, McRaven said he is very bullish on the Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit (TALOS) project to create a ballistic protective suit for special operators, which has been likened to the metal suit of comic book superhero, Iron Man. “If we do TALOS right, it will provide a huge comparative advantage over our enemies and give our warriors the protection they need,” McRaven said. He envisions an “X-Prize” type competition to engage industry in developing a protective combat suit. He’d like to offer as much as a $10 million prize to the competition winner and is working with Pentagon leadership to get the authority for spending that much.
Already 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities and 10 national labs are involved in the product. McRaven said three prototype suits without a power system will be delivered to SOCOM in June to begin testing. The goal is to develop a deployable combat suit in August 2018, he said. The SOCOM commander acknowledged that providing such a high technology suit with an independent power source is “the biggest stumbling block to having an independent suit that a person can wear.”
He said SOCOM is planning a “Monster Garage-type” event in the future to attract “local garage tinkerers” and have them collaborate with professional engineers, designers and craftsmen to build components for TALOS and “potentially even a complete suit.”
McRaven said solving the problems of powering the suit “will have greater applications across the SOF (Special Operations Forces) enterprise.”
To see a video of an industry demonstration day in Tampa, Florida last August, click here.
Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Special Operations, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Adm. William McRaven, Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, Special Operations, Special Operations Command, TALOS, Topics.