SOCOM taking innovation foundry to London to focus on special ops in ‘smart cities’

The event “will explore the challenges of physical and remote SOF operations in a range of future complex smart city scenarios,” according to SOCOM.
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Green Berets with 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), and an augmentee with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, clear a corridor of threats during the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat course, Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, 2022. (U.S. Army courtesy photo)

Personnel from U.S. Special Operations Command will be heading across the pond in April to meet with U.K. defense officials, tech experts and others to brainstorm the capabilities and concepts of operation that will be needed for conducting missions in “smart cities” of the future.

The gathering in London, dubbed Innovation Foundry 15 (IF15), will be hosted by the Tampa, Florida-based SOFWERX hub in partnership with SOCOM’s Science-and-Technology Futures Directorate and U.K. Strategic Command, which oversees the British directorate of special forces.

Selected participants from industry, academia, labs, government, futurists and other subject matter experts are expected to be on hand.

The event “will explore the challenges of physical and remote SOF operations in a range of future complex smart city scenarios,” according to a special notice published on


“The rapidly changing nature of the future operating environment will increasingly involve operations in smart, interconnected cities. More than 50% of humanity resides in cities, and by 2030 there will be more than 60 cities with populations between 5-10 million … These dense urbanities are becoming ever more complex; socially, physically, and technically,” the notice states. “This presents new challenges and opportunities for SOF operations across the full breadth of potential mission sets, in an interconnected environment where access and [maneuver] will be challenging … Virtual and physical theatre entry, combat operations, sustainment, and partnering will all require novel approaches.”

Attendees of IF15 — the latest in a series of innovation foundry events — are expected to brainstorm how technologies might be used to overcome these challenges. Participants will also be tasked to identify the investments special ops organizations need to make in the near term to set them up for success in future urban battles. After the event wraps up, SOCOM and U.K. Strategic Command may negotiate awards with contractors, according to the post.

“This Innovation Foundry is the first phase of the Innovation Cycle and will be focused on idea generation. Deliverables for the IF15 event will include preliminary capability concepts targeting the defined problem areas which may impact SOF and operations in the 2035 timeframe in interconnected smart cities. This event will be followed by 1) a Rapid Capability Assessment (RCA) to further develop the preliminary capability concepts, and 2) a series of Integrated Technology Sprints (ITS), to demonstrate proofs of concept,” per the special notice.

People with expertise in AI and machine learning; robotic and autonomous systems; advanced energy systems; communications tech; biometric systems; cyber ops; edge computing; influence operations; sensors; wearable technologies; Internet of Things; smart cities and other areas of interest, may apply.

The deadline for CV submissions is March 4. Those who make the cut will be invited to attend the confab, which is scheduled to take place April 17-19 in London.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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