By Debbie Gregory.
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is researching, developing and testing a next-generation Iron Man-like suit called Tactical Light Operator Suit (TALOS) designed to increase strength and protection to keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat.
The Command is also looking at using nutritional supplements and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to push the abilities and endurance of its forces, increase operational readiness and relieve the physical burden of demanding mission sets.
Even though special ops forces currently have access to specialized resources such as physical therapists, athletic trainers and dietitians, SOCOM is looking to increase their ability to tolerate pain, recover from injuries, and remain physically able in challenging environments.
Another SOCOM goal is to develop “super soldiers” expanding the troops’ ability to operate in places not well suited for humans, such as high altitudes or underwater.
The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection.
Special Operations Forces play a significant role in U.S. military operations and, in recent years, have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations.
SOCOM has about 70,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four Service component commands, and eight sub-unified commands.
“Special Operations forces are playing a critical role in gathering intelligence—intelligence that’s supporting operations against ISIL and helping to combat the flow of foreign fighters to and from Syria and Iraq,” said Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, in remarks at the International Special Operations Forces Convention last year.