The Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) is held once a year in Tampa, Florida as a place for venders to pitch their products to the Special Operations community to help stimulate some interaction between SOF and the private sector. For instance, I sat in on a panel were the Special Operations representatives of the various regions around the world to which they were assigned told the private sector exactly what type of kit they would like to see developed. SOF in Korea wants NBC gear that is as comfortable and flexible as the regular duty uniform for instance. It seems like everyone wants more ISR, and non-sensitive ISR platforms which can be given to our allies around the world.
Here are a few things I saw at SOFIC which I thought were interesting:
Speer Operational Technologies has a Abdominal Aortic Tourniquet out which has apparently saved some lives overseas already. I talked to the inventor to get some better understanding of it. From the website, “The Abdominal Aortic Tourniquet is the first device to provide stable and complete occlusion of flow of blood to the lower extremities. It has 510(k) approval from the FDA for difficult to control inguinal hemorrhage. It is applied to the mid-abdomen, tightened and inflated and may remain on for up to an hour safely.” In as far as I know, this is the only product that can stop this type of bleeding. In the past, you would have to use Quickclot or a similar product and hope for the best.
Another interesting product is Parasim’s Virtual Reality Parachute Simulator. The user gears up in a MC-5 HALO rig and is suspended in a freefall position by the harness. The VR goggles he wears simulate various parachute scenarios. After he pulls the ripchord he then has to use his toggles to navigate his way to the drop zone. When he lands, the harness is lowered again, dropping the user to the ground to simulate a landing. The system can also simulate various parachute malfunctions. Something like this may have a use in helping HALO jumpers become more proficient while in garrison. Check them out!
The search for a “Land Warrior”-esque system has been ongoing since at least the 1990’s with little success. Whoever can build a system that actually delivers on what it promises will be putting the holy grail of Infantry operations into the Army’s hands. Black Diamond’s Modular Tactical System (MTS) may be the answer. I got to talk to the programmer from Saab and a company rep for a few minutes. The system breaks down into a tablet worn on the chest with the computer system on the back of the plate carrier and everything rigged up to the soldier’s radio. The capabilities of the system look great for situational awareness and targeting, something that can really help out the Ground Force Commander and Squad Leaders, however I think these systems are still too big. Something the size of the Nexus 7 is more realistic as to what soldiers can carry into combat on top of their usual equipment.
Aside from that the conference was a good time. I ran into my old Team Sergeant from 5th SFG, hung out with some of the old school SOF dudes, and met up with some old friends. But like the SHOT show, you are glad when it’s over. Going out every night until five in the morning then waking up and doing it all over again takes its toll!