Military, industrial, and medical applications have expressed interest in using ~1550nm laser diodes as efficient laser sources for reduced eye safety concerns, especially where free-space propagation is concerned. In addition, covert military applications, including pointers and illuminators, benefit from the spectral insensitivity of common sensor types to ~1.5um wavelengths. While more efficient than other sources, high-power broad-area laser diodes can sometimes require complex packaging and beam shaping/combining optics in order to meet requirements for brightness, uniformity, stray light, and environmental insensitivity. This paper will highlight and discuss a range of developments exploring laser diode components near 1.5um for free-space military applications, including broadarea high-power illuminators and highly-collimated pointers. Options for tailored beam conditioning and performance results will also be presented.