Special Operations Command is calling all creative technology futurists

It's an essay contest that asks for three to five pages answering what "new or evolved technology will have the greatest impact, either as a challenge or as an opportunity" for SOCOM.
Special Operations Forces, Air Force
A U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces airman with Special Operations Command South secures an airfield with Panamanian security force counterparts Feb. 1 during a culmination exercise in Colon, Panama. (U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite)

What does the changing world of technology mean for the military’s elite units? The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) wants your best guesses as to what the tech world will look like in 2029.

“What new or evolved technology will have the greatest impact, either as a challenge or as an opportunity, for [Special Operations Forces] in 2029?” An essay prompt for a Special Operations Command ideation challenge reads. “We want to know how you see the world in 2029 and the critical impacts it might pose for SOF.”

SOCOM wants a three to five pages on the topic. But unlike most school essay contests, this one comes with the promise of a cash prize. Writers can detail the evolution of an existing technology, or talk about how a yet-to-be-created one will rock the world, but the essay should be full of original ideas. “You can use others as references, but the bulk should be your own thoughts,” the challenge description reads.

Essays will be evaluated based on the novelty, impact and feasibility of the technology described. Once the responses have been ranked, the top five to 10 writers will be invited to join an “Innovation Foundry” design thinking event at the Capital Factory in Austin, during which participants will work with SOF Operators to “develop potential technological concepts to face a SOF SR mission, based off a fictional Future Operating Environment.”


Top essay writers are eligible for a prize of $1,000 — event participants will get $1,500 more. Essays are due March 3.

The Army Futures Command recently opened a Center for Defense Innovation at the Capital Factory in Austin — a new space for “collaboration and serendipity” between the Army, the Air Force’s AFWERX, the Defense Innovation Unit, The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and a team of Booz Allen Hamilton contractors.

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