(CNN) – More Special Operations forces may head to Iraq and Syria to advise local forces in upcoming battles to retake Mosul and Raqqa. As troops move closer to the front line dangers, they need every advantage.
To get that advantage; students, professors and military personnel are working in a very nontraditional military lab on cutting edge gadgets that could mean the difference between life and death.
James Guerts of U.S. Central Operations Command said, “We found a thing called a ‘go-tenna,’ which is an antenna you can clip to your cell phone and turn into a radio, so if you lose a cell tower, you can still communicate.”
At a converted tattoo parlor in Tampa, the Special Operations Command is running an innovation project that seems more like a start-up tech company than part of the U.S. military.
According to Guerts, “What we wanted to create was an inviting place. Somewhere you would want to come to work. Where, if you’re a 19 year old and you have got a great idea, you’d be happy to come here.”
It’s not just about winning the fight, but surviving it.
Tony Davis of U.S. Central Operations Command explained, “This is actually a pellet that expands up to 20 times its size when it reaches fluids. So what you do is inject this into a wound. All these pellets will expand, rapidly clot the wound and quickly shut off the bleeding. So previously they would have been packing pieces of gauze into that wound in order to stop the blood flow.”
Guerts noted, “A lot of what we also do here is rapidly prototype things, talk to operators, get the idea flowing and try to get it from cocktail napkin to here’s an actual thing we are thinking about.”
3-D printed drones also show promise for Iraq and Syria. Imagine getting a part you need by printing it right in the battlefield.
Guerts said, “If something breaks they can repair it themselves and not have to keep coming back to us for parts.”
With a 3-D printer and yes, play dough, a standard-issue weapon can be molded to the individual.