The U.S. Special Operations Forces, which include Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Air Force Special Tactics, have 9,500 people deployed in 90 countries. So they have special needs when it comes to acquisitions from private-sector partners.

Colonel Amy Bogiel, Command Surgeon with the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, told the Medical, BioMedical & Biodefense: Support to the Warfigher Symposium in Chapel Hill last week that the Special Operations Command “champions a culture that embraces innovation in research and development and acquisition programs.”

That was music to the ears of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Bio Defense initiative and numerous other sponsors that helped the North Carolina Military Business Center develop the symposium.

Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, is the largest Special Operations Forces base and looks at about 160 medical and R&D proposals a year, said Tony Matcham, medical material requirement specialist in the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command.

Matcham said research areas of interest to fill capability gaps include:

  • Medical simulation and training technologies.
  • Prolonged field care.
  • Pain control.
  • Far forward blood, blood components and blood substitutes.
  • Portable lab diagnostics.
  • Field environmental medicine.
  • Rapid diagnostics.
  • Optimizing canine performance and nutrition.
  • Enhanced physiological performance.

They also seek portable medical devices that can be used at point of need or injury. Those include devices for infectious disease identification, and analysis of soil and water samples to show what soldiers may be exposed to.

Current projects include freeze dried plasma, more rugged containers for blood and other products, a blood filter, a resuscitation cocktail, a fluid warmer, and blood analyzer.

Matcham said developing a portable oxygen generator has proved to be a tough problem. A portable diagnostic smartphone system, universal anti-venom products and a universal wipe for patient decontamination are also on the wish list.

Kathleen Berst, deputy for acquisition, U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, said that in the last five years, goals have “gone beyond just saving a life to restoring form and function.”

She said needs include wearable sensors, telehealth, reduction of weight in items in medical sets, kits and outfits, and modernization of obsolete medical equipment.

Master Sergeant John Sims, medical research development test & evaluation in the Special Operations Command Combat Developments Division, said, “Medical research is an extensive and expensive operation, so we have to collaborate.”

For more details on Special Operations Forces needs and contact information see the slides used in the panel presentation.