he Global Special Operations Forces (SOF) Foundation (GSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to build and grow an international network of military, government, commercial, and educational stakeholders in order to advance SOF capabilities and partnerships to confront global and networked threats.
Special Operations Forces, better known in the community as SOF, are by nature somewhat mysterious. Much of SOF conduct their missions in the shadows and strive for anonymity.
For that reason, a professional association for the community may seem odd. But behind every Operator is a support network responsible for everything from the equipment they use, to the intelligence they obtain, to the training they’ve received. The more connected and refined that network is, the sharper and more capable the Operator. Additionally, there are many SOF mission sets that do not focus on “door kicking”, nor do they require absolute secrecy.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the business and the proclivity for “stove-piping” SOF organizations, those networks are often small and disjointed. And that’s the case in just the U.S. Army. When you add in other U.S. SOF units (Navy SEALS, for instance) and the special operations units and commands of U.S. partner nations across the globe– you’re looking at a huge web of overlapping communities with no real nexus.
And a nexus is needed. The conduct of war continues to shift: from large-scale clashes between nations to those characterized by unconventional methods, as well as longterm engagements with and against non-state transnational groups. Countering these globally networked threats requires a global “good-guy” network that can innovate and operate at speeds that traditional governments cannot.
The Global SOF Foundation (GSF) was founded in 2014 to begin forging that network, bringing together military, government, industry, and intellectual leaders from around the world for the purpose of advancing the capability and efficacy of SOF.
Stu Bradin and Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew realized that the SOF community had no institutional organization that supported it like other professional associations supported the Services. That led them to team up and form the Foundation, which in five years has become a thriving community.
While the GSF does develop educational products, from an annual SOF Imperatives document that is provided annually to the U.S. Congress to the SOF for Life Survey on Military Transition, the primary focus of the Foundation is growing and nurturing the network.
Nothing beats face-to-face engagement and conversation to build relationships and–more importantly–trust. Because of that, the GSF hosts multiple events throughout the year to convene the community.
There are three annual Symposium events–the Global SOF Symposium – US, which always takes place in Tampa Bay, the Global SOF Symposium – International, which is held in a new country each year, and the Modern Warfare Symposium, which is held at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. In addition to ample opportunities for networking, these events include impactful speakers and interactive panels.
The U.S. Symposium is held in Tampa, not just because it’s the home of the GSF, but because it is also home to USSOCOM, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), and U.S. Special Operations Command – Central (USSOCCENT). Plus–it’s held in the early spring, which is a great time to visit Florida no matter where you live.
The year 2019 will mark the fourth international symposium, which will take place in Brussels, Belgium, from October 1-3. Previous events were in Vilnius, Lithuania; Bucharest, Romania; and Madrid, Spain. The locations are based on demand from the host nations–each one has been held with cooperation from the local SOF community with high-level speakers ranging from the Chief of Defense of Spain to the President of Romania!
NOTHING BEATS FACE-TO-FACE ENGAGEMENT AND CONVERSATION TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
The Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo is the newest addition to the GSF event arsenal. Ft. Bragg is the hub of U.S. Army SOF, so it’s a desirable location to get a strong military presence. For this reason, the GSF is focusing this event on exhibits and live demos–which will even include opportunities at a live-fire range.
You don’t need to attend one of these events to get involved with the GSF–you can dip your toe into the network by becoming a GSF member or attending one of our many smaller-scale receptions or huddles.
You don’t need to attend one of these events to get involved with the GSF – you can dip your toe into the network by becoming a GSF member or attending one of our many smaller scale receptions or huddles.