Second gathering of SOF professionals convenes almost 450 attendees from 28 countries for three days of special-ops-focused discussion

By: Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew

The Global SOF Foundation’s second symposium, held in February at Innisbrook Resort in Florida, was a resounding success. The keynote speakers and panel discussions were exceptional, and our well-informed audience asked great questions. This was not your typical conference. After three days of discussions with an elite group of global SOF professionals, here are seven takeaways:

  • Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon of Colombia eloquently summarized the evolution of his country’s SOF. Their tactical successes led to strategic success and ultimately transformed the entire country
  • Peter Bergen of CNN and New America talked about the disconnect between how terrorism is not a big threat to the U.S. homeland and yet Americans are disproportionately concerned about it
  • DARPA is working to re-create the asymmetry that night vision goggles used to afford our allies in their engagements with the enemy at night
  • Catherine Herridge of Fox News Channel explained the power of messaging and social media by saying: Even if you kill a high-value target, you can’t kill his ideas. They live on online
  • Michael Lumpkin said that the U.S. and its allies are conceding the information battlespace to ISIS and that it’s essential to stem the flow of recruits. Even if we defeat DAESH on the battlefield, they will re-brand themselves
  • The Vice Minister of Defense for Lithuania, Marijus Velicka asserted that Europe is starting to realize that its under-investment in Defense has to stop, now that a revanchist Russia is increasingly on the scene
  • The U.S. Army Research Lab is envisioning a time in which 3D printers will produce tailored nutrition for military personnel in the field

Those are just a few of interesting items that came up during the proceedings. Here are some of the comments we received about the event overall:

  • “I had more meaningful conversations with both government and industry than any other conference in the last few years.” – Lori L.
  • “I attend a lot of these events, and yours was among the best… I believe our organization will prove to be one of SOF’s most useful tools to both its members and the Command(s).” – Daniel M.
  • “A really great symposium — better than last year, which means it will improve each year!” – Lance M.

The GSF team is happy with the result, but we are not resting on our laurels. We’re already hard at work planning our big SOFIC reception in May and our next symposium in October in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Check out photos from the event here!