If you want to take over a nation, then first take over its airwaves. Broadcast your messages and interdict the enemy’s ability to broadcast theirs. When the U.S. attacked Iraq in 1991, or NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, among the first targets destroyed were TV and radio stations. When there is a military coup in Africa, the first buildings the rebels usually grab are the radio and TV studios.
So it is illuminating that the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the organization that oversees America’s elite special forces, is quietly searching for equipment that will effectively give it control over every FM and AM radio station in an area. The short, innocuous-sounding announcement on the Federal Business Opportunities site states that SOCOM seeks vendors to provide “a radio broadcast system capable of searching for and acquiring every AM and FM radio station in a specific area and then broadcasting a message(s) in the target area on all acquired AM and FM radio station frequencies.” SOCOM wants equipment that is both lightweight and sophisticated enough to detect and broadcast over multiple frequencies simultaneously. And SOCOM wants it fast. The equipment must be at least Technology Readiness Level 8, a Pentagon measure of technological maturity that means that it is fully developed, tested and ready for use.
“It appears that SOCOM is looking to purchase a preferably commercial off the shelf friendly-foreign or domestic advanced form of Software-Defined Radio (SDR) as a solution for their tactical and theater Psyops or MISO missions,” says a military expert who asked to remain anonymous. “The exact platform – whether it’s ground-based or airborne – cannot be determined from the solicitation. It would appear to be an urgent request because of the TRL 8 or above stipulation. ”