Every year we do an event in Washington, DC, which is usually a reception with a keynote speaker at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. It’s a good way to connect with the DC audience, but we wanted to add more substance. Last year was the first time we included a pre-reception, which featured remarks from the Vice Commander and Acquisition Executive of SOCOM.
It was well-received, but we decided to do more this year.
Last week we hosted the 1st SOF Policy Forum and it went well. We had Democratic and Republican leaders from both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees speak, and stress on the force and the need to develop partner SOF were the two main topics.
It is clear that Congress wants to relieve the pressure on US SOF and they are looking at supporting those initiatives. It is not just about cutting deployments – they talked about growth and additional support to the force and their families.
Congressman Mac Thornberry emphasized this point, saying: “We need to focus on our people. We spend so much time and effort talking about the stuff we’re going to buy, but I don’t think we spend enough time on our most valuable tool, our people.”
This follows perfectly with what most of us know is the first SOF Truth: Humans are more important than hardware.
Partnership was the other main topic, and is also a means to relieve pressure on US SOF. As Congressman Adam Smith said, “Partnerships are so crucial…it can not be the US Government saying, ‘We’re here to do this for you.’”
An example of such a case that was discussed in detail was Afghanistan. We had both the CEO of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Ambassador to the US speak, so we had some of the most informed people on the subject sharing their thoughts. Afghanistan is doubling the size of their SOF in 3 years – a tough task. Dr. Abdullah, the CEO, made it clear that SOF and airpower were forces of choice. He also discussed the importance of uniting the people of Afghanistan, working toward one mission, and working toward the right level of support from other nations.
As Afghanistan starts the budget build for 2019, we think Congress will help provide that right level of support.
The SOF Policy Forum was exceptional, and we plan to continue it in upcoming years. I especially want to thank our “Think Team” members that helped make this happen: New America, The University of Texas, and Arizona State University.
We moved the evening reception this year to make it walking distance from the Policy Forum. For everyone who joined us at the reception, we truly thank you. We never get to talk to everyone, so if you wanted to talk to us about something, please reach out via email or we can set up a meeting next time we head up.
General Dynamics and Victor42 were great sponsors, and we are honored to receive their support as Corporate Partners, as well. We also want to thank LTG Mike Nagata for stepping in at the last minute to speak in place of ADM (Ret) McRaven. LTG Nagata moved mountains to make that happen and we are extremely grateful to him and his staff for their enthusiastic support.
Our next big event is the 2018 Global SOF Symposium (19 – 21 Feb) at Innisbrook. We have a lot of speakers already confirmed so we are excited. If you go to the symposium website, you can see the agenda and register.
We have a lot to be thankful for so we wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and we hope you take advantage of this time with your family and friends.