Our Science, Technology and Experimentation program seeks to develop technology based capabilities to strengthen U.S. and partner nation ability to disrupt illicit trafficking, counter transnational organized crime and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
We aim to develop capability and enhance capacity in areas such as maritime domain awareness, countering improvised explosive devices, space-based communications, environmental and energy security, and geospatial information sharing tools for disaster response.
To address capability gaps in those areas, we pay close attention to the operational requirements that our partner nations and U.S. military identify during SOUTHCOM’s strategic assessment and requirement processes, training events, exercises, and other security cooperation activities throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
The Science, Technology and Experimentation division engages the most innovative minds in the defense industry, U.S. government interagency, academia, the private sector and the international research and development community. Together, we work to provide technical solutions that can be developed, demonstrated, assessed and implemented in a relatively short period of time and in an effective and budget-conscious manner.
Established in 2002 to help strengthen Colombia’s war on illegally armed groups, SOUTHCOM’s Science, Technology and Experimentation division has since spearheaded projects that are paying significant security dividends in the region.
Most recently, the division led the development and fielding of PEAK (Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit), a modular kit that assists first responders by providing power generation, communications, water purification and situational awareness (see more on PEAK). Pre-positioned close to areas prone to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural threats, PEAK makes a difference during the first hours after a disaster hits. The technology is currently employed at U.S. Joint Task Force-Bravo to immediately provide support to Central American countries, as required.
New intelligence sensors are also part of an extensive list of projects successfully completed in the past decade.
Rapid Open Geospatial User-driven Enterprise (ROGUE)
A mapping application that compiles geospatially-tagged data and makes it available to geographically dispersed organizations. ROGUE greatly improves information sharing and situational awareness for better decision-making during complex operations. We assessed a developmental version of the software with Honduras’s Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) – a government agency similar to the U.S. Federal Management Agency (FEMA) – in the execution of their emergency management activities. Other partners in this project are the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the Pacific Disaster Center, and the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit.
Counter improvised explosive device (IED) technologies and actions
Our collaborative efforts can help save lives, alleviate suffering and enhance security in Latin America, where Colombia ranks second in the world, after Afghanistan, in the number of IED incidents. Partners include U.S. Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Colombia’s Centro Nacional contra Artefactos Explosivos y Minas and others on the development of analytic techniques, protective undergarments, robotics, communications equipment and low-light cameras to detect mines and other IED devices.
Regional Domain Awareness (RDA)
This tool will provide the construct and technical backbone for Department of Defense-wide integration of land, air and maritime domain awareness and information sharing nodes, such as SOUTHCOM’s Cooperative Security Information Integration (CSII) system (see more on CSII). CSII will replace the Cooperative Nations Information Exchange System (CNIES) as the primary means to share air and maritime tracks and enable collaboration among partner nations for coordination of tactical endgames. RDA is in synch with SOUTHCOM’s priority of strengthening security cooperation in the region through improved regional maritime, air and land domain awareness – key to counter transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking. It could also be used in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. Partners collaborating in this effort include Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S), the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory, the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), SRI International, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, and more than 20 partner nations.
Space-based tactical level communications program that uses nanosatellites
Far less expensive to build and launch than traditional satellites, nanosatellites provide dependable communication capabilities for partner nations’ forces during operations in remote areas and triple canopy forests – secluded, high-risk areas where transnational organized crime and drug trafficking organizations find sanctuary. We are working with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) to build, launch and operate a small constellation of nanosatellites. Several partner nations will participate in the use and assessment of this technology. Besides SMDC, our growing roster of partners in this project includes the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and Brazil’s Comissão de Implantação do Sistema de Controle do Espaço Aéreo (CISCEA). The Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces will also collaborate with SOUTHCOM in this effort.
Bi-directional speech translation tool and an electronic data capture/medical records system
This effort is designed to improve the efficiency of SOUTHCOM’s engagements in medical readiness exercises and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the region. Developed by the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, the Medical Application of Speech Translation (MAST) software provides on-the-fly English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English speech translation of medical terms. The Humanitarian Medical Automation Project replaces medical records on paper with an electronic software that can be used by our military health care providers and partner nations’ health systems to enhance patients’ care. SOUTHCOM’s Command Surgeon’s Office, components’ Surgeon Offices, and the Medical Element at Joint Task Force-Bravo have been critical partners in these endeavors.
This list is only a small sample of the broad range of science and technology research and development activities that we are dedicated to further. The majority of our portfolio focuses in the near term; however, we also look at solutions in the mid-to-far term to support the Command’s vision to enhance security and promote stability in the theater.
We work hand in hand and synchronize the efforts of numerous technology organizations, the most prominent include the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Forward Element Command-Americas (RFEC-Americas), the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the U.S. Office of Naval Research – Global (ONR)
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