January 23, 2013: U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is spending half a billion dollars to create pre-packaged TACLAN (Tactical Local Area Network) systems. TACLAN is a system that integrates a lot of commercial equipment with military communications and security (encrypted transmissions). TACLAN includes both hardware (lots of laptops and other commercial gear) and software (usually commercial stuff with government modifications, mainly for security). TACLAN also includes a satellite link to a 24/7 help desk back in the United States, staffed with personnel trained to deal with the kinds of problems SOCOM units might encounter with TACLAN. Each TACLAN kit contains several dozen laptops already set up for different tasks (intelligence, operations, mission planning, system management, and so on) along with all the other gear (routers, cables, and such) needed to connect to a satellite or landline link. TACLAN also enables communicating via military radios. The entire kit will usually fit into a shipping container that can be carried by a C-17.
Thus a Special Forces or SEAL team out in the bush can use a satellite phone to connect with their support team several hundred kilometers away or anywhere on the planet. Using TACLAN the support troops can provide anything the operators in the field need. In effect, TACLAN enables a SOCOM taskforce to land anywhere in the world, have their TACLAN operating within an hour or so, and be at work planning and carrying out missions in the area. As is often the case with other new equipment and weapons, once SOCOM has debugged TACLAN, the army and marines can adapt it to their own needs.