We’re 10 days from the Global SOF Symposium in Belgium (already!?), so you would think we’d all be heads-down into that event… but not at the GSF!

Instead we were very busy this week, with action happening in DC and San Fran… 

Running Hard with Navigators Global

As we recently announced in our 5 Year Report, the GSF has partnered with an organization called Navigators Global for support in educating policymakers about the needs of U.S. SOF. 

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers

This will enable growth and wider distribution of our annual SOF Imperatives document. Its release in 2020 will be accompanied by a forum on Capitol Hill in early February.

We’re very excited about all of that, but the main focus of the mission is the education of policymakers. So the GSF’s President Stu Bradin headed to DC first this week to join the Navigators Global team for a first round of visits to members of Congress.

Stu was “blown away” by the meetings and the conversations that were had, and is feeling very optimistic about our forward movement.

PLUS: We met back up with the Navigators Global team a little later in the week to record a podcast with Lt. Gen. (Ret) Tom Trask, talking about this new relationship and what it means. And yes, this was our first ever *video* podcast… so double the pressure to sound (and look) cool!

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Recording our first “video podcast” at the Navigators Global headquarters in D.C.

Subscribe to the GSF’s podcast, SOFspot, so that you’re notified when the episode comes out!

GSF + Worldwide Risk Management Huddle

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
When the button to your floor doesn’t want you.

More of the GSF Team headed to DC on Tuesday–COO Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew and Dir. of Marketing Chelsea Hamashin. #dreamteam

It was right to the hotel to drop things off, and despite some minor snafus (wait, where’s the button for floor #9?!), the duo headed right to downtown DC to set up for the evening’s event… a GSF Huddle!

GSF Huddle (gee-ess-eff huh-del)

n.  An casual networking opportunity with members of the global special operations community

Ex: “We hold GSF Huddles a few times a year to bring together representatives from our Corporate Partners, our members, and military from around the world.”

This huddle was Sponsored by one of our Small Business Partners– Worldwide Risk Management!  WWRM assists companies from all parts of the world in developing insurance and risk management programs that will suit most any situation.

We love WWRM because they take such an active role in the organization, so it’s great to have them on board.

With over 50 attendees from all corners of the SOF spectrum, everyone was really excited about the turn-out. 

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers

As long time GSF Partner Bobby Boucher of Victor42 told us: “This is the best one of these that you’ve done yet! The turn-out and the conversations were great.”

Thanks to everyone who joined us for this fun opportunity, and thanks to Del Frisco’s Grille for hosting.

2019 Special Operations Policy Forum

The next day led us to the real reason for the season: the 2019 Special Operations Policy Forum. This is the third year that we’ve held this event, although it has previously taken place in November. New America, a DC-based think tank, and Arizona State University, have been steadfast partners in this event each year, and we were thrilled to have The John McCain Institute and the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Happy to be in good company!

The purpose of the forum was to convene senior government leaders, leading academics, and national security policy professionals and discuss how to confront the unconventional threats facing Special Operations Forces and how the U.S. military, government, and its Partner Nations should respond to these threats. 

Speakers at this event included, but were certainly not limited to:

  • Rep. Adam Smith, U.S. Representative, Washington’s 9th District
  • Rep. Michael Waltz, U.S. Representative, Florida’s 6th District
  • Rep. Seth Moulton, U.S. Representative, Massachusetts’s 6th District
  • H.E. Roya Rahmani, Afghan Ambassador to the United States
  • ADM (Ret.) William McRaven, Former Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
  • BG Matthew Easley, PhD, Director, Army Artificial Intelligence, Army Futures Command

And of course, our own Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, who was the very first speaker of the day!

The topics ranged from the “future wars” that Congress needs to plan for, counterterrorism, the future of Afghanistan, and artificial intelligence.

We also had the opportunity to record a podcast with Nelly Lahoud, PhD, and Senior Fellow for International Security Program at New America. Nelly was kind enough to sit with Meaghan and Chelsea after her presentation and elaborate on terrorism in Afghanistan, and her impressive reading and analysis of the 6,000+ pages of documents recovered from Bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad. Another episode to stay tuned for…

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Meaghan and Nelly, post podcast recording!

The final presentation of the day was ADM (Ret.) William McRaven, the former Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and former boss of almost everyone who works at the Foundation. Needless to say, we were all in the room to hear his conversation with Nick Rasmussen (another former guest of SOFspot!). Stu even got to make the introductory remarks!

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Stu introducing the conversation with ADM (Ret) McRaven and Mr. Rasmussen.

They talked about everything from training for the Bin Laden raid to addressing the mental health of special operators to what it was like establishing the NATO SOF Headquarters with Stu in Belgium.

“I’m all about training our Allies,” he said, highlighting that the war on terror is not over, but through working with our Partner Nations we are making progress.

Side Note: It was great to see representatives from many of our Corporate Partners in the audience, one of which said, “This has been a great event. I see the tactical level a lot, but I don’t get to hear this type of detail at a strategic level in other venues, so this really helps frame what we do.” 

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Our Partners stick together!

And as you can see in this photo, it was especially great to see how our Partners gravitate toward one another during events like this. Our network is strong.

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
The GSF Team with New America and CNN’s, Peter Bergen. (L to R): Peter, Meaghan, Stu, Chelsea, and Rick Lamb.

Being Global at Oracle OpenWorld

As you may have noticed from the above photo, a key player on our team was MIA…. Stephen Jones, our Director of Partner Relations, spent this week on the other coast, attending the Oracle annual conference in San Francisco. 

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers
Steve Jones (far right) with the Oracle team!

Steve stayed busy at the conference, meeting new companies and engaging with our friends at Oracle.

“Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison gave two personal keynote speeches about significant Oracle application differentiators and Oracle’s Second-Generation Cloud,” Steve said.

He also said he “really enjoyed meeting a number of Oracle’s sales team beyond their Federal division and learning more about the strong relationships between Oracle and their primary customers.”

…And of course, he got to attend the event concert and see John Mayer AND Flo-Rida. 

The “energizing performances” in San Francisco’s brand new Chase Center were a great end to the week. This was only the third event that the arena has hosted, so Steve said it felt like being part of a new era. 

The Road to Educating Special Operations Policy-Makers

We’re sure we’ll stop hearing about it…. Some day. 

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