Socom seeks Web-based collaboration tools

SAN DIEGO -- The Special Operations Command has several unmet technology needs, including Web-based collaborative tools, said Vice Adm. Eric Olson, Socom’s deputy commander, at the annual West 2006 Conference sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute in San Diego.

Socom wants a collaborative toolset that would allow its personnel to conduct real-time, Web-based chat sessions and do white board collaborative planning. The tool must be able to perform well in bandwidth-constrained environments in the field, he added.

Socom has talked to Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, about using departmentwide collaboration tools that DISA is developing, Olson said. But they have not decided which tools the command should use.

Socom is also shopping for satellite terminals capable of handling broadband data on the battlefield, especially unmanned aerial vehicles widely used by command personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.

Socom has “invested heavily in top-notch” radio systems, including the Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR) system from Thales Communications. The radio system is versatile enough -- it operates in the 30 to 512 MHz frequency range with both AM and FM modulation -- that Socom personnel now carry only three radios instead of six, he said.

A Thales spokesman said the company has delivered roughly 50,000 radios developed to Socom specifications to other users worldwide, including the Army and Marine Corps.

Socom also plans to use Joint Tactical Radio System gear when it is deployed. A Thales spokesman said the company’s JTRS MBITR radio, which received JTRS certification this week, has the same form and functionality as the original MBITR but uses a JTRS software waveform and has a different National Security Agency encryption chip.

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