As I approached my retirement from U.S. Special Operations Command in 2014, I decided to keep serving my nation and the wider Special Operations community through the formation of a new professional SOF association – the Global SOF Foundation (GSF). Since 9/11 U.S. special operations forces (SOF) had over doubled in size and were responsible for the bulk of the fight against terrorism. As a result, the community needed an organization outside of government to support it and help educate the public and policymakers on the proper use of SOF and what it takes to develop these amazing forces. Additionally, it was important to us to support the creation and advancement of SOF among our international partners and allies.

We cannot win this fight alone.

War drives change, and the defense industry in Tampa Bay and Orlando has grown at an incredible pace. SOF is a big reason why. Many companies see that doing business with SOF often leads to product proliferation into the larger conventional forces, as well as with our international partners. This combination has made Tampa Bay and Orlando the epicenter for SOF and international training and readiness. SOF often gets equipment years before their conventional counterparts, and their training and readiness must be top-notch to sustain their incredible survivability and lethality.

SOF also tends to challenge industry and push technological growth.

The GSF is entering its seventh year and the need to continue educating leaders, policymakers, and industry is still our major focus. There is a lot of talk about technology and innovation in Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but I submit that Tampa Bay and Orlando are rapidly gaining on these tech hubs because of their roles in the global security arena.

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