Information Warfare: May 1, 2005

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Reality is catching up with Hollywood. For decades, movies have portrayed increasingly elaborate and spectacular looking war rooms. In most cases, the Hollywood versions were more impressive than the real thing. The troops were envious, but hard as they tried, they could not come up with something to match the imaginations, and budgets, of set designers. That may have finally pulled ahead with the development of  the SOJICC (Special Operations Joint Interagency Collaboration Center). Actually, this operation (no reporters allowed) is less an eye popping war room, and more the center of a global network of high speed data links. From, or, rather, with, SOJICC, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) commanders can coordinate, in real time, operations taking place anywhere on the planet. Live feeds from satellite and UAV cameras (and other sensors) come in, as does a stream of data showing where Special Forces troops, vehicles, ships and aircraft are. Massive databases, as well as newsfeeds, are added to the mix of information. The object of all this effort is to get the job done with the lest effort, and risk. SOCOM only has about 6,000 highly trained operators (Special Forces and commandoes), and only about half are available for combat operations (the rest are training, in transit, on leave). SOCOM works with other troops, from all the services, but prefers to do the most difficult jobs with SOCOM people. 

SOCOM is not hung up on grabbing credit. Many of the more spectacular military operations of the last three years were either SOCOM, or involved SOCOM people on the ground. SOCOM prefers to let the regular troops involved get the credit. This is a matter of practicing what you preach. Special Forces has always advocated establishing good relations with the locals, in order to gain their trust and cooperation.

All major military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan involve SOCOM, and SOJICC. This is because no one else has access to as much real time reconnaissance assets, and also has the ability to plan an operation, and carry it out, within hours. Most SOJICC plans are longer term. One thing that SOCOM doesnt get a lot of credit for is the thousands of times Special Forces teams have staked out suspicious locations, and waited for the enemy to show up, or just do something, to provide a target for a raid or attack. The Special Forces also dont get much credit for the thousands of targets, in out of the way places, that have suddenly blown up, because a Special Forces surveillance team called in a smart bomb once they realized they had identified some bad guys, preparing a hostile act. SOJICC has the resources to keep track of, and keep an eye on, all these teams. Often deep in hostile territory, SOJICC can quickly get in extra firepower, reinforcements and transportation if a Special Forces gets hit by unexpected enemy forces. 

SOJICC is very much a technical solution. Its geeks in support of the guys with the guns. Special Forces in particular, and SOCOM in general, have always been technology oriented. Dont let the image of tough looking guys with guns fool you. These folks like their gadgets, and SOJICC is gadget central. But in addition to the hardware, theres a lot of software involved. With all the data coming in, its taken some innovative new software to sort it out, and quickly make sense of it. Speed is important, because the guy with the gun, who is confronting the enemy, has a satellite phone, and will call SOJICC if he has a problem, and will expect a quick solution. SOJICC has shrunk the world, making any battle, anywhere, a fight right inside SOJICC. And every day, 24 hours a day, SOJICC tracks the problems, and organizes quick solutions to any problems that pop up.

 


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