Special Operations: Turning Patterns Into Algorithms


December 29, 2021: The U.S. Army has long encouraged innovation, knowing that its Special Forces as well as active duty and reserve troops realize the importance of new ideas that can be tested, improved and enhance current concepts, equipment and weapons. The army identifies and honors the best new ideas each year and now holds regular competitions, called Dragon’s Lair Tournaments, where active duty and reserve military personnel from all services can enter their concepts in a competition, similar to the TV show Shark Tank.

These competitions are attended by defense contractors as well as special operations and intelligence agency personnel. After only six Dragon’s Lair Tournaments, each with up t0 five winners, several useful ideas have come up and proved to be very valuable. Some demonstrated how some aspects of army operations were much improved by new ideas and some of these set off a process of further improvement with more development. Once such concept was an algorithm developed by an army reserve officer, 2nd lieutenant Christian Lance Relleve, whose academic studies covered architecture as well as HSGI (Human Security and Global Intelligence) and International Relations. Relleve presented an algorithm that could predict the internal layout of a building with 70 percent accuracy based on what country the building was in, what the apparent purpose was and obvious external features. Relleve noted that there were many external indicators of how the internal layout was and he examined layouts in many countries for various types of structures. Such a predictive algorithm would be useful for mission planning when good estimates are an adequate substitute for no information at all.

Over the last two decades several such algorithms have been developed, most of them applied manually but more complex ones can be built into a military-grade cell phone app and used by combat troops. Relleve’s algorithm was one of five winners and attracted the interest of defense contractors who wanted to buy it. Relleve declined those offers for now so he could refine the algorithm further before discussing who to sell or assign the rights to.


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