Our Imperatives for Special Operations continues to be a top program for the Global SOF Foundation. The conversation driver is our annual Imperatives document, which highlights top policy issues based on feedback from our membership.
Discussions on the issues highlighted happen daily–from emails to phone calls to water cooler chats. But we have several events each year to formally discuss the issues with key decision makers in the arena, the biggest of which is our annual SOF Imperatives Forum.
Though the 2021 Imperatives Forum took place virtually this year, it still carried a lot of weight and featured some heavy-hitters!
That included 17 total speakers from Congress, the Department of Defense, USASOC, AFSOC, and USSOCOM to name a few, all of whom were able to interact with and field questions from attendees.
Check out some highlights in this quick recap video:
A Stu-Pendous Lineup
Global SOF President and CEO, Stu Bradin, opened the event from our “stage” in Washington, DC: “I never expected that I’d be introducing an event that featured former ASD SO/LICs, HASC and SASC Committee Chairs, multiple SOF Component Commanders, and some of SOF’s most visionary tech leaders.”
Better believe it, Stu, because that’s who we had on the agenda to join us and speak on the many important topics featured in our 2021 Imperatives document!
If you missed out on the event, here’s a snapshot of the whos and whats of the Forum:
- Senator Joni Ernst, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Senate: Sen. Ernst opened the event with keynote remarks that covered a broad spectrum of SOF topics. She opened by tackling the Great Power Competition and ended with a focus on the Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF).
- Ms. Melissa Dalton, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities: Ms. Dalton covered three key themes that are a focus of her office– to defend and nurture American strength, especially people, to defend against threats, and to lead and sustain a stable international system with our partner nations.
- Senior Leader Conversation with COL (Ret.) Keith Nightingale and The Honorable Jim Locher: Expertly moderated by our COO Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, this panel focused on policy that formed USSOCOM and the ASD SO/LIC office. It was a vibrant and frank discussion focused on the past, present, and future of SOF.
- The State of the Force with LTG Fran M. Beaudette, Commanding General of USASOC, and Lt. Gen. Jame Slife, Commander of AFSOC: Ms. Linda Robinson dove right into this conversation with two of SOCOM’s component commanders, who both provided in-depth updates on their respective commands. Our favorite line? “We want to be cognitively kinetic!”
- Senior Leader Conversation with Rep. Adam Smith and Rep. Mike Rogers: With Lt. Gen. Tom Trask in the moderator seat, these two Congressional Representatives shared their views on what Congress needs to be doing for SOF. Despite some conflicting views, the men did agree that in their roles on the HASC, “we are a very bipartisan committee, we don’t disagree on a whole lot.”
- The Future of Technology in Special Operations with Dr. Lisa Costa, LtGen Dennis A. Crall, and Mr. Nand Mulchandani: LTG (Ret.) Mike Nagata moderated this upbeat panel featuring tech leaders from USSOCOM, the Joint Staff, and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. They focused on mobility, improved communication, finding talent in new ways, and overall, changing the culture of technology adoption.
And of course, Mr. Jimmy Mott of Leidos was amazing as the Master of Ceremonies for the whole forum! He rolled with last minute changes and updates with ease, and we couldn’t have done it without him.
We also need to highlight a few people and organizations who made this event happen behind the scenes!
- Presenting Sponsors: MAG Aerospace and Leidos both chipped in to support this Forum (and a few surrounding networking events) as Presenting Sponsors
- Leadership Sponsors: EY and Akima also supported this event as Leadership Sponsors, and both support the Foundation as Corporate Partners
And let’s not forget Navigators Global, who partnered with us to put on the Forum!
The Imperatives Pipeline
So what’s next?
Continuing the Discussion: We will keep these conversations going, with smaller engagements, OP/EDs, and quarterly virtual roundtables. Most importantly, we’re closer than usual to our next SOF Imperatives Forum, which is moving back to our regular schedule in February 2022. So save the date for 8-9 FEB and we’ll see you there… in person in DC!
Topic Deep-Dives: We’re going deeper and canvassing the community on specific topics, especially Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Our EDI Call for Papers is open until the end of December 2021, and you can learn more about it here.
Looking to GSOF Imperatives 2022: Believe it or not, it’s almost time to restart our annual Imperatives cycle, which starts with asking the community about the topics that need to be addressed. If you’re not already a Global SOF Member, make sure you join ASAP so that you are able to participate in that call for input.
Stay informed, stay involved, and we’ll see you at the next event…