Although most of our staff is based out of Tampa, FL, the GSF puts a trip to Washington, D.C., on the schedule at least every two months. Visiting the U.S. Capital allows us to accomplish a range of activities, including meetings with Congressional representatives, attendance at defense-focused events, and connections with our Corporate Partners.
This week, our President, Stu Bradin, accompanied by his schedule-holding sidekick and Director of Marketing, Chelsea Hamashin, embarked on one of those trips into the Beltway.
The initial lure for this trip was a screening of Legion of Brothers. While we’ve seen this incredible documentary several times—including at Sundance Film Festival and our own Global SOF Symposium in February—this screening would mark the launch of the documentary on CNN (catch it Sunday, 24 September). When we received the invitation from Peter Bergen, the documentary Producer and Chairman of the GSF Board of Directors, we knew this would be the perfect excuse to build a trip to D.C.
The Legion of Brothers event took place on the evening of Monday, 18 September, at the Navy Memorial, which brought some maritime flair to the screening of this Army Special Forces-focused film. It was great to see many of the hard-working individuals who brought this documentary to life there, including Bergen, his wife and the film’s producer, Tresha Mabile, and director Greg Barker. Stu was also happy to see Vince Ogilvie, a former DOD Public Affairs Officer who worked with Stu on the initial push to make this documentary happen (read more about that here).
Most importantly, several of the film’s subjects were in attendance, including Jason Amerine, Mark Nutsch, and his wife, Amy.
As it does every time, Legion of Brothers had the audience of 250+ attendees captivated—there were no glowing phones from a bored viewer or whispered conversations from someone who lost interest. When the lights came up after 78 minutes, the quiet held as the weight of the film settled. We then had the opportunity to learn more about the film, as its creators and stars came forward for a Q&A moderated by CNN’s Barbara Starr.
The next day brought an early start—we had a 0830 meeting at The Pentagon. Even though we were staying in Crystal City, anyone who has been to The Pentagon as a visitor knows that means you need to leave no later than 0730. So that’s exactly what we did—and after a twisting and turning walk through the maze-like halls of the building, we arrived at our meeting at the Assistant Secretary of Defense-for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD-SO/LIC) at 0825.
After a great meeting at ASD-SO/LIC, discussing opportunities for event participation, we high-tailed it across town for visits at two embassies. Starting with Spain, we had a lively conversation about our 2018 Global SOF Symposium in Madrid with the Defense Attaché and his staff. The Spanish were excited about the event, which will focus more on Africa and Latin America than Europe, and they even gifted us with sweet coins! Muchas gracias!
Next we snagged an Uber to M Street, where we met with the Ukrainian Attaché to discuss his country’s participation in future GSF events. The Ambassador was very knowledgeable about the GSF, which, at just over three years old, we took as a huge compliment!
With the hard work done, we focused the rest of our trip on showing some love to our Corporate Partners. Ready for some food and some cold beverages, we moved back across the river and on down to Old Town in Alexandria, VA. There we met with representatives from two of our Corporate Partners—Oracle and BAE Systems—who we thought should meet. After some introductions we spent a few hours discussing ways the two could collaborate, the current defense landscape, and the topic of the month—hurricanes!
On our last morning of the trip, we headed out to visit two more Corporate Partners. The first was one of our Patron Partners, Permuta, to talk to them about their future ops, how to capitalize on their participation in our Romania Symposium, and the many, many impressive capabilities of their DefenseReady software. Both sides brought a lot of information to the table, and our Permuta representatives called the meeting “fantastic.”
We wrapped up our trip with one of our Founding Partners: General Dynamics. We do our best to meet with our Corporate Partners in this fashion at least once a year, allowing us to talk
about what we can do for them, share our perspectives on the global SOF landscape, and get up to date on their needs and capabilities. We hit all of those topics in our 2.5 hours with GD—and we were even able to do so over a delicious lunch of BBQ (and it was Rib Day).
With less than 48 hours on the ground, it can be a challenge to get much done in a city like Washington, D.C. But the GSF dives in and moves fast, and we were able to accomplish everything we set out to do in our two days there. We look forward to returning for our upcoming event in Capital: the 2017 Global SOF Foundation NCR Reception on 15 November—we’ll see you there!