Last Chance in the Expo Hall

The second morning of an event is always a little more relaxed than day 1, but as it was already the final day of the Modern Warfare Expo it was busy from the minute the doors opened.

Registration was once again expertly managed by the GSF’s Shannon Coker and eventPower’s Megan Carroll. We’d like to say a huge thank you to those two for their patience and perseverance through issues…even when the internet didn’t always choose to cooperate!

The Modern Warfare Expo was only open until the end of lunch, so Exhibitors lured in attendees for conversations with free 2019 GSF Calendars and Expo Hall Raffle Tickets–through which a few $100 Visa Gift Cards were on the line! Business cards were passed, introductions were made, and we are overall very happy with the interactions and relationship building we saw in the inaugural Modern Warfare Expo.

Speakers focused on Security from Defense, Policy, and Industry Viewpoints

Next door, in the Modern Warfare Symposium, the first of two Keynotes came from Major General Brian Mennes, the Director of the Force Management Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army G-3/5/7. That sounds like a mouthful of a position, but MG Mennes provided a more simple explanation of his job at the opening of his remarks, stating that he “helps the Chief modernize his Army.”

Although that explanation makes it easier to understand, it is certainly no simple task. As MG Mennes said, the U.S. Army is one of the largest organizations in the world, which presents many challenges to modernization. He was a very dynamic speaker, abandoning the podium and walking through the audience while he shared his insights on the need for intimacy with technology, considerations for near-peer competitors, and overcoming the obstacles of bureaucracy.

The next Keynote came from a more policy-focused viewpoint, featuring Dr. Seth Jones. His slew of roles and accolades includes the Harold Brown Chair, the Director of the Transnational Threats Project, and he’s also the Senior Adviser to International Security Program at CSIS.

Dr. Jones opened by saying he was going to present a more “controversial” view, which as one attendee later pointed out during the Q&A was because it was the “polar opposite” of MG Mennes’ presentation. While MG Mennes focused on the steps needed to modernize and update the structure of the Army to compete with peer or near peer adversaries, Dr. Jones is of the opinion that the U.S. should not devote the bulk of its resources to prepare for a large conventional fight. Instead, it should focus on the irregular wars that will prove much more likely.

The Q&A for this session lasted nearly 30 minutes; Dr. Jones was asked about everything ranging from socialism in the U.S. to the impacts of economic warfare, which he was able to provide educated and eloquent responses to. In the end, his main point was that, “we need to think about how our adversaries are thinking about and competing with us, and what we can do to stay ahead of them and be prepared.”

Mr. Mike Fong, CEO of GSF Corporate Partner Privoro, presented next with a SOF Slam on Mobile Espionage. SOF Slams are shorter, more focused talks on an interesting subject relevant to SOF. Mr. Fong spoke for around 30 minutes on the risks presented by everyone’s favorite toy–your mobile device(s).

We took a poll before the SOF Slam to see if attendees thought their phones were secure… we’re pretty sure these numbers skewed even more after this SOF Slam!

The Last Lunch and a Trip to 3rd Group

It’s hard to believe how fast two days can go by! The final lunch of the Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo allowed for closing conversations and demos from the exhibitors, one of whom said, “I love the family atmosphere and seeing each of you a few times a year.” That tight-knit environment is what we strive for, and how we can build trust and productive relationships over time.

We even have some real family members here! You can see GSF Director of Marketing, Chelsea Hamashin, and her father, Lloyd, “hamming” it up in the photo to the left. Lloyd is the Director of Tampa Operations for Fulcrum, a GSF Small Business Partner and Gold Sponsor of the Modern Warfare Expo!

Before the end of lunch, GSF President Stu Bradin did the drawing for the winners of the Expo Hall Raffle. Three numbers were drawn to be announced during the next General Session… suspense!

Meanwhile, the GSF team realized we had a TON of extra boxed lunches, and we were given the idea to donate them to a local unit. So retired Special Forces operator and former 3rd Group Company Sergeant Major Rick Lamb led the charge, and with the support of Shannon and some other helping hands (thank you Blake from Privoro!), the extra lunches were loaded into the “STU-Haul” and brought to 3rd Group.

A jump and a newcomer’s orientation were both going on at 3rd Group, so our timing couldn’t have been better. They were very appreciative of the surprise delivery, which we were told would go out to the drop zone, enable a team dinner that night, and that some would even be going home to families who were attending the orientation.

We were so glad to see that our over-order turned out to do some good! Rick even did some bonding with his old unit, and is most likely going to go back in September to speak about his experiences.

It’s the Final Countdown!

This was our first time using a raffle as a means to boost booth traffic, and we were pleasantly surprised with its success. Some attendees were walking around with a whole stack of raffle tickets, while others were banking on the value of one or two.

In the Ballroom, Keenan took to the mic for the lead-in to the final panel, taking a moment to announce the raffle winners! Luckily for us, the three holders of the lucky tickets were all still present, and ran to the back of the room quickly to claim their prize… a Visa gift card!

The final panel, which was focused on Indigenous Approaches in the 21st Century, was expertly moderated by MG (Ret) Michael Repass and featured panelists from the U.S. and Norwegian Special Operations. The group discussed many topics, to include the importance of cultural respect and trusting Partner Nations to move missions forward.

The Modern Warfare Symposium was closed by Brigadier General Thomas Drew, Deputy Commanding General of USASOC. BG Drew thanked the audience, saying that there were “some very high level people and speakers from the SOF community, intelligence community, and our national government.”

He also strongly encouraged attendees to take the event survey to help improve for 2019.

The Global SOF Foundation would like to pile on to BG Drew’s remarks, thanking the 449 checked-in attendees of the inaugural Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo!! We never could have pulled this off without your support.

So, thank you very much, and we’ll see you in Madrid next month!


Don’t miss the recaps of the The Lead UpDay 1, and Day 3 of the inaugural Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo.

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