3 pieces of gear that give US special operators ‘super powers’

US special operations airman jump parachute
An airman with Special Operations Command Europe jumps out of a Black Hawk helicopter 12,000 feet above Stuttgart, Germany, August 17, 2016.
  • The US military special-operations forces are often the first to get new, sophisticated gear.
  • Some of that equipment endows those operators with capabilities verging on superhuman.

It's no secret that America's special operations units are at the forefront of military technology and training, but you still might be surprised at just how "super" some special operations gear can make our elite war fighters.

Over the past two decades of near-continuous combat operations in theaters all around the world, the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has been tasked with more varied and complex missions than ever.

In order to keep up with their high operational tempo while maintaining their safety and mission success rates, Uncle Sam has leaned on the private sector to develop new warfighting technologies that can give American troops the advantage in any environment.

As a result of this focus, the special operations gear stored in SOCOM's armories makes for warfighters that are about as close to superheroes as reality will permit.

Climbing walls like Spider-Man

Naval Special Warfare visit board search seizure VBSS
A Naval Special Warfare Group 2 member conducts visit, board, search, and seizure operations aboard USS Carter Hall during an exercise in Florida, January 24, 2020.

Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders are often tasked with boarding and taking control of vessels out at sea, but many commercial and cargo ships are significantly taller than the rigid inflatable rafts special operators often use to close with enemy vessels. That's where the REBS Magnetic Climbing System comes in.

The REBS system uses four powerful magnetic strips (one for each hand and foot) to allow special operations personnel to climb the side of the ship like Spider-Man.

The system is fully dive-capable, meaning Navy SEALs can actually approach vessels from beneath the surface of the water and then begin their ascent while submerged.

Looking through walls like Super Man

US Army Green Berets special forces Philippine soldiers troops Balikatan
US Special Forces soldiers and Philippine troops clear a room during close-quarters-battle training, May 12, 2017.

The US military is currently transitioning its focus away from counter-terror operations and toward the possibility of a near-peer conflict with nations like Russia or China.

As a part of this effort, there's been a renewed focus on urban warfare, where American troops could potentially be tasked with fighting in crowded cities and through large building complexes.

Clearing rooms or buildings can be particularly dangerous in these environments, but thanks to new advances in wall-penetrating radar, special operations troops will now be able to peak into rooms before they breach the door, identifying how many people are in the room they're about to enter and even where they're located in relation to the wall.

Lumineye, Inc., the company that won the Defense Department's contract, has already begun fielding the same technology with first responders, who are able to use the same special-operations gear for search-and-rescue operations in rubble-filled environments.

Reading minds like Professor X

US Army special operations psychological Operations Qualification Course
Soldiers at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School speak with indigenous role players during training, June 16, 2021.

Special operators aren't only tasked with combat operations. It's not at all uncommon for special-operations troops to serve at the forefront of America's foreign policy, engaging with local leaders and even interrogating potential suspects.

In complex environments like that, it pays to have a sixth sense that can tip you off when someone has ulterior motives or is trying to be deceptive.

That's why SOFWERX developed what they call a "physiological analysis tool" for SOCOM's operators to analyze data collected from a variety of sensors that can be used to predict how a conversational partner feels while they're talking. The system relies on cameras, temperature sensors, and even radar to assess a person's body temperature, heart rate, and physical mannerisms.

"We put a test guy up there [and] asked him some questions that made him fairly uncomfortable. Now, getting 'intent' is hard; but we could tell: 'Hey, this person is nervous when you ask this question. Their countenance changed.' Micro-expressions is another way to look at this." SOFWERX chief technology officer Brian Andrews explained.

Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list of super-powered tech employed by USSOCOM's elite operators, and chances are, the gear they don't tell us about is even cooler.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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