TAMPA, Fla. — The U.S. Special Forces have always operated with the world’s state-of-the-art weaponry and technology to accomplish feats of legendary valor. While that fact remains the same, in 2016 it is not so much the what but the how that has changed.
SOFWERX, which stands for Special Operations Forces Works, is a Special Operations Command (SOCOM)-funded technology developer in Tampa, Florida that opened up its doors late last year. Instead of being housed in the traditional sentry-guarded confines of a military base, SOFWERX is located downtown in a facility that looks no different than a local vendor.
The hipster-esque millennial vibe is meant to appeal to young intelligent minds that would not normally want to work for SOCOM; the type of minds that similar set-ups in Silicon Valley attract. “A door next to an old cafe is a lot easier to walk into with an idea than, say, a base with armed sentries and a gate,” SOFWERX Director Tambrien Bates said to the Washington Post.
“With only five full-time staff members, SOFWERX acts as a sort of marketplace,” Bates says. The organization, which is funded to the tune of $2 million, has the ability to hire all kinds of people that can solve whatever problems Special Forces need solved.
Not only does the lab craft new technology such as 3-D printed drones, an Iron Man-like exoskeleton that should be prototype-ready in 2018, and standard weapons, but it also runs a program to train special operations soldiers on how to use new technology. The program, called DIRTYWERX, even goes as far as to teach spec ops troops how to create their own 3-D fabrications.
The full original report on SOFWERX can be read on the Washington Post’s website here.