TAMPA, FLA. – U.S. Special Operations Command hosted Special
Operations Forces Week from May 17 to 21 at the SOFWERX facility in Ybor
City. This year SOF Week consisted of
two virtual conferences, Special Operations Forces Industry Conference and
International Special Operations Forces Conference.
The week began with the Special
Operations Forces Industry Conference which took place May 17-21, and was
virtual for the second year in a row. The conference, co-sponsored by the
National Defense Industrial Association and U.S. Special Operations Command, brought
together senior U.S. SOF leaders, industry and academia to discuss USSOCOM
acquisition program priorities. This year’s theme was “Expanding the Competitive
Space” and focused on emerging requirements, trends, and technology USSOCOM
needs industry’s assistance with to compete and win in the future.
“We have to innovate to
transform our force,” said Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander, USSOCOM. “Investing
in both people and key technologies is going to be essential. Together, our
military and industry will answer the call to innovate for the nation for the
next 20 years and beyond.”
Expanding on Clarke’s comments,
Mr. James Smith, USSOCOM’s acquisition executive asked the audience of more than 3,500
participants, “Will the traits that have made us successful for the last twenty
years be the same traits that will enable success in the next twenty years?”
Smith explained that winning in the cyber, space and data environments remains
a key priority as the SOF community expands the competitive space by bringing
on new industry and academia partners and enhancing current partnerships.
Among the highlights of the
conference, Clarke participated in a recorded conversation with Microsoft Chief
Executive Officer Satya Nadella in a virtual fireside chat—Clarke in Tampa,
Florida, and Nadella in Seattle, Washington. They discussed the need for
industry and government to work together to solve challenges in developing and
adopting artificial intelligence solutions.
The conference also included presentations
by USSOCOM acquisition leaders and a virtual forum with USSOCOM component
The second virtual conference,
the International Special Operations Forces Conference began on May 20 and
ended on May 21. More than 230 representatives from 58 nations from every
continent except Antarctica participated. The international conference’s goals included
creating a common understanding of the global SOF network’s efforts and challenges.
Leaders also sought to increase SOF collaboration and alignment with common
objectives and to identify and socialize methods to increase interoperability.
“ISOF gives us a platform to
discuss and grow our SOF network and enhance our interoperability,” said Army
Col. Harold Miller, USSOCOM’s international division chief in the operations
directorate. “We learn from each other through senior leadership presentations,
as well as small group discussions to encourage cross-cultural communication
and problem solving. Together we are stronger and more capable to execute
national security initiatives.”
General Clarke addressed the
international partners stressing the importance of relationships as a source of
strength for all nations.
“If you go into an operational
headquarters, what you’ll see every single time is international partners
working side by side,” said Clarke. “Even at the most tactical level, our SOF
forces are working side by side. They’re integrated and they’re interoperable
in ways that did not exist 20 years ago. Taken as a whole, our SOF enterprise,
and our partnerships are undeniable. They are without question, a source of
strength for all our nations.”
To learn more about
SOFIC go to https://www.sofic.org/.