One of the more interesting items to come out of the recent vSOFIC (virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference) in Tampa last week was that the Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) concept for a Hyper Enabled Operator (HEO) is progressing.

The two-year program, built off a failed concept program, is designed to give special operators enhanced cognitive capabilities on the battlefield, said James Smith, an acquisition executive for SOCOM.

“We’re talking about improving your cognitive overmatch at the edge,” Smith said during the vSOFIC gathering in Tampa. “The edge for us, is this small unit, individual operator, operating in a remote, austere environment.”

Five years ago, SOFREP reported that SOCOM was developing the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), a hardened exoskeleton suit for special operators. And while TALOS never proved to be a viable option, there was hope that many of the associated technologies connected with the suit would bear fruit for America’s special operators.   

Colonel Ryan Barnes, director of SOCOM’s Joint Acquisition Task Force, told the virtual audience that the HEO concept program is designed to combine the troop’s communications and data analytics technology into a tactical system. The system will allow special operations small units to gather and analyze battlefield intelligence to help them make decisions faster than ever before.

It is also supposed to speed up the process of operators sending data to and receiving it back from their tactical headquarters. “We are looking to put the internet of things and data analytics on an operator at the edge, so he can make more informed decisions faster,” Barnes said.

SOCOM is integrating new technologies with off-the-shelf programs to give special operators an edge on the battlefields of the future.

“We are looking to put those types of sensors and communication devices on an operator collecting information in the operational environment,” Barnes said. The system would be able to analyze data in near real-time using advanced analytics, which could be relayed back to the operator. That would be a marked improvement over older technology that could sometimes take hours, days or even weeks to analyze data.