Special Operations Pacific Goes to the Cloud
The Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) is examining a cloud-based tactical network, as well as quick response codes, known as QR codes, and high-frequency communications, among other efforts to support its tactical mission operations, said Col. Ronnie Geronimo, USA, director of Communications (SOJ6), Special Operations Command Pacific, speaking November 1 at AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific in Honolulu.
SOCPAC, which is a sub-unified command of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), coordinates, plans and deploys all special operation missions in the Pacific theater in support of the region’s combatant command, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Given that the SOCPAC area of responsibility is the Department of Defense’s priority theater covering 51% of the globe, the special forces need technologies that will support their stealth, lethality and agile missions while protecting the warfighters, Col. Geronimo said.
SOCOM selected SOCPAC to be the host of a cloud-based network pilot program. “We are the pilot organization for developing a cloud-based commercial enterprise tactical mission network that will support not only our operators but our partner forces out here across the region,” he said. The cloud-based tactical network will support several of SOCPAC’s platforms, including a force protection interface.
“We do this through our dynamic force protection interface that provides it to both partner forces and operators,” the SOJ6 explained. “This gives the operators and especially our partner forces, some shared map data and some Blue Force tracking at the unclassified level. It also provides chat, voice, photo and video file cataloging. And we have a passive survey tool that we deploy with this that consolidates networks, your cellphones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. It also identifies any potential threats to that network, which we can go inform the operator with as we assess that from the back end of our infrastructure.”
SOCPAC is rolling out the pilot capability for digital devices not just to special forces elements, but also to an Army Security Force Assistance Brigade and a Marine Littoral Regiment.
“We're serving out there in 17 different locations across the region,” Col. Geronimo said. “[We are] really getting this out to get more data back. It's not just a BYOD, bring your own device. It is also ‘bring your own data to the fight,’ so we can go in, assess and analyze and provide more refined information to operate on the ground.”
The SOJ6 is rolling out access to the platform in a unique way, through QR codes.
“In future, we'll be deploying these in QR codes where you could just buy a phone off the shelf, flash the QR code and reestablish the capability with a phone that you picked up at the country that you are in,” Col. Geronimo stated.
This is how we support our partners and allies and get a little more information sharing and understanding of how we execute operations.
In addition, SOCPAC is working to leverage more publicly available information. “It reinforces things that we're seeing and it gives us real-time information to validate certain things that we're really after, based off what operations are doing here in the Pacific. Really, [we are doing] a lot of work on PAI,” he offered. Those efforts will also benefit allies and partners, a key element for the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy.
“It is part of the Pacific deterrence initiative that we've been tasked to do for Indo-Pacific as it's tied to the building capacity for our allies and partners,” the SOJ6 continued. “This is how we support our partners and allies and get a little more information sharing and understanding of how we execute operations.”
Additionally, SOCPAC is pursuing low high frequency (HF) “as a complement to our suite of radio systems that we’ve already employed in the Special Operations community,” Col. Geronimo stated. They are working with industry, the Department of Energy and Idaho National Laboratories to identify a low probability of intercept HF solution, which is manufacturer agnostic.
“It's a software-defined waveform and radio capability to be deployed out there,” he continued. “And it's capable of passing traffic from Idaho National Labs to Hawaii, Australia and many other places across the region using very, very low power, data transmission and detection, well below the noise. And that's how we like it.”