The case for new, portable, real-time mid-infrared (MIR) molecular sensing and imaging is discussed. We set a record in demonstrating extreme broad-band supercontinuum (SC) generated light 1.4-13.3 μm in a specially engineered, step-index MIR optical fiber of high numerical aperture. This was the first experimental demonstration truly to reveal the potential of MIR fibers to emit across the MIR molecular ”fingerprint spectral region” and a key first step towards bright, portable, broadband MIR sources for chemical and biomedical, molecular sensing and imaging in real-time. Potential applications are in the healthcare, security, energy, environmental monitoring, chemical-processing, manufacturing and the agriculture sectors. MIR narrow-line fiber lasers are now required to pump the fiber MIR-SC for a compact all-fiber solution. Rare-earth-ion (RE-) doped MIR fiber lasers are not yet demonstrated ≥4 μm wavelength. We have fabricated small-core RE-fiber with photoluminescence across 3.5-6 μm, and long excited-state lifetimes. MIR-RE-fiber lasers are also applicable as discrete MIR fiber sensors in their own right, for applications including: ship-to-ship free-space communications, aircraft counter-measures, coherent MIR imaging, MIR-optical coherent tomography, laser-cutting/ patterning of soft materials and new wavelengths for fiber laser medical surgery.