The U.S. Navy has invented a device that promises to revolutionize Close-Quarters Combat (CQB).

The Room Breach Digital Sensor Alert Device (RBDSAD), a combination of an LED light and sensor, is able to mark and monitor a room that has been cleared by friendlies. But the revolutionary part comes in its ability to alert operators if an enemy has entered a room that has already been cleared.

Additionally, the device is able to take photographs or capture video of the room and transmit it to the operators who might be elsewhere on the target building.

Currently, the military and law enforcement SWAT teams utilize chem lights to mark a cleared room, a practice that began in the 1990s. But there are a couple of downsides to this method: a) in the heat of the battle, operators will often forget to drop the chem light; b) it offers a false sense of security once operators re-enter a cleared room — bad guys could have crept back in without touching the chem light.

The brief description of the patent states that the “the present invention serves as a force multiplier, allowing the military or law enforcement team to not leave a member behind in order to ensure that a previously cleared room is reentered [sic].”

An artistic depiction of the device (Navy).

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Re-clearing rooms is a standard operating procedure (SOP) in a CQB environment. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, this can be neglected or not performed properly. In such a case, 99 out of 100 times, there will be no issue. But that one time is enough to cause a casualty. And even Tier 1 Special Operations units can fall victims of complacency.

Back when the insurgency in Iraq was reaching its height (2005-2007 timeframe), the British Special Air Service (SAS), part of Task Force Black, was conducting a High-Value-Target (HVT) raid somewhere in Baghdad. The operators stormed the building and began clearing rooms. Any enemy combatants who offered resistance were killed. In one room, however, the SAS operators failed to kill a terrorist and just wounded him. He, cleverly, played possum. And when the SAS operators had finished clearing the building and were conducting Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), the terrorist sprang and wounded an operator.

This incident resulted in the SAS creating an SOP for re-clearing rooms: reengage targets. With all the back and forth that takes place after a building has been cleared, the new SOP would result in operators re-engaging terrorists dozens of times as they navigated through buildings.

“Sure, chem lights work,” said Sean Patten, senior technology manager at TechLink. “But the increased functionality and ease-of-use of this technology make it an attractive product for SWAT teams, Delta, or DEVGRU [the Naval Special Warfare Development Group is another title for SEAL Team 6].”

TechLink, a company that acts as an intermediary between the Department of Defence (DoD) and U.S. businesses that are interested in DoD technology, is looking to pair the device with companies that might be interested in manufacturing it.

The device was invented and patented by the Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic (NIWC-A)