Day 2 of the Global SOF Symposium – Europe was a tremendous complement to the first day, expounding upon messaging from the first day and digging deeper into how positive change can come to special operations in Europe.
It began with a special Roundtable Session that was only open to government representatives from any of the 22 nations in attendance. Led by the Global SOF Foundation’s Vice President, Dr. Keenan Yoho, there was an active conversation with key contributions from Mr. Ernest J. Herold III (NATO), Brigadier Angus “Gus” Fair (NSHQ), Colonel Riho Uhtegi (Estonia), and Colonel Claudiu Dobocan (Romania).
As the Roundtable Session wrapped up, the rest of the Symposium attendees arrived, enjoying fresh coffee (Sponsored by our Partner, World Wide Technology) and pastries provided by the excelled staff of the JW Marriott. The exhibit hall came to life, with exhibitors beginning their demos and engaging other attendees in conversations about their capabilities. As kickoff neared, attendees made their way into the ballroom, where they were given the Fulcrum-sponsored lanyards that (finally) made their way through customs! Thank you, Fulcrum!
Our Master of Ceremonies, Mr. JP Patriarch from Erickson, Inc. (a GSF Small Business Partner) welcomed everyone back for Day 2 in the Grand Ballroom. After some brief remarks, we moved right into the first panel of the day: “Building a SOF Component Command.” This panel, moderated by CAPT (Ret) Steven Wisotzki, featured experts on the subject, including Brigadier Fair, Colonel Michael Hyldgaard from Denmark, Colonel Andrzej Trzaska from Poland, and Major General Mark Schwartz, the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command – Europe.
Brigadier Fair spoke about the issues that should be expected when standing up any sort of SOF capability, which included interoperability, Operational Security (OPSEC), and interagency coordination. During his remarks, Major General Schwartz discussed his command’s “full spectrum special operations,” and said that his is “fully confident in the ability of my operators as long as they’re given the enablers that they need.”
The panel was followed by the last Networking Coffee Break of the Symposium. As the clock ticked down, attendees scrambled to make final introductions and finish seeing all of the available technologies. The thirty minute break flew by, and everyone moved back into the ballroom for the day’s Keynote Speaker- the U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Ambassador Hans Klemm.
Ambassador Klemm spoke about the strength of the bilateral relationship that the U.S. has with Romania, as well as Romania’s importance to NATO. He also discussed the upcoming launch of Romania’s SOF Command, which will be headed by Colonel Dobocan.
After our final lunch of the event, sponsored by exhibitor RTO Consulting, we moved into the final panel of the event, which was called “Defense Transformation.” For this Panel, expertly moderated by Dr. Keenan Yoho, we welcomed back Romanian’s Chief of Defense, Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, to participate as a panelist. Joining him was Mr. Herold and His Excellency Mr. Arvydas Pocius, Ambassador to Romania from Lithuania. This panel was punctuated by looping satellite imagery of the region, provided by GSF Partner DigitalGlobe.
The Symposium would not be complete with remarks from GSF President, Mr. Stu Bradin. He spoke about the importance of the Symposium and what was accomplished in just two short days. He also thanked Nick and Johnny, two representatives from Romania’s SOF without whom the event would not have happened, as well as Colonel Dobocan with GSF Flasks and locally made brandy.
Although the “official” part of the Symposium was over, we had one more event to go…a final Reception hosted by the Romanian Ministry of National Defense. It. Was. Spectacular.
The Reception took place the the Military Circle, a 100 year old building that was once the Romanian Military’s Officers’ Club. Now a National Monument, it is used to host only very special events. Our hosts went all out, with amazing food, delicious desserts, and most importantly–the Romanian Military Band. Despite the beauty of the building and caliber of the attendees, the band was the evening’s focal point. From the vivacious pan flute solos to the cultural dancing, it was a performance that none of the attendees will ever forget.
We’ll see you next year for our European Symposium in Madrid!