In the SOF world, BTB means “Blind Transmission Broadcast,” which is a type of messaging system used in clandestine operations. Our BTB Blog Series focuses on how the Foundation is using communication to keep the network thriving.
In the spring of 2020, we quickly made a big vector shift and started doing more virtually. We already work remotely, so the shift was more seamless for us than many other teams.
We’ve provided recaps of some of the bigger virtual events we had (i.e. SV + SOF and Modern Warfare Symposium – Virtual), but what we’re even more proud of this year is our consistent schedule of virtual engagements that we’ve shared with our community almost weekly since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Sharing SOF Stories
Early in this year of reflection, we made a decision to feature Special Ops stories, especially those stories from eras where the men who were there were becoming harder and harder to come by.
As Stu said in a recent podcast episode, “We suck as a community at talking about our history.” From OPSEC to protecting TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures), there are obvious reasons to leave out some stories and details.
BUT we are firm believers that we as a community will continue to repeat past mistakes if we don’t learn from our history. So with everyone on lockdown, we saw a ripe opportunity to do some virtual interviews and get some SOF Stories on our channels.
Easy Access: Using Our Team
With 60+ years of SOF experience spread across Stu (COL, Retired, and Global SOF President) and Rick (CSM, Retired, and Global SOF Director of Gov’t Relations), we didn’t need to look far to find some serious SOF experience. Stu and Rick both shared stories ranging from standing up the NATO SOF Headquarters to Operation EAGLE CLAW.
Expanding Our Reach…to South America
Feeling confident in our new-found virtual Interview skills, we reached out to some men both Stu and Rick knew from their experiences in the SOUTHCOM AOR. We talked about Plan Colombia with Kevin Higgins and the Penonome Surrender in Operation JUST CAUSE.
The Next Level: LIVE!
After a few more SOF Story interviews, we decided to take things up a notch and do a monthly event LIVE. CMSgt (R) Randy Anderson, former Air Commando and a member of the Global SOF Advisory Council, joined up with Rick to lead this charge.
So we did some scrambling and researching and experimenting to figure out the smoothest way to execute a live event pulling in feeds from various speakers and allowing some audience Q&A. We think we’ve found the right formula and as of the end of 2020 we’ve done four “SOF Stories: Live!” events.
- “The Immediate Aftermath of 9/11”: This September event brought together some current and former AFSOC Operators, including current USSOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Greg Smith, to discuss their experiences *immediately* after the attacks of 9/11 in 2001.
- “Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu”: In October we commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu with four Army veterans who were there. You can even hear about how Rick Lamb got that pesky bullet in his head.
- “Operations EAGLE CLAW & HONEY BADGER”: In November we invited CMSgt Taco Sanchez to talk with Rick about their experiences in and around Iran in the failed hostage rescue mission that was Operation EAGLE CLAW.
- “Operation JUST CAUSE”: The 2020 finale in December dug into the early days of this mission to stop Manuel Noriega in Panama. Former operators from the Army and Air Force share their inside stories from that month-long mission in 1989/1990.
When the lockdown ends, the stories will NOT. We intend to continue this trend both in-person and virtually for as long as we can!
Bonus: Brown Bags
Our SOF Stories are public, but we’ve also been working very hard on a smaller scale to put on a Virtual Brown Bag series for our Global SOF Corporate Partners and Advisors.
The coronavirus has drastically limited the private sector’s ability to engage with government or other professionals on critical topics. In an effort to connect the private sector to government as well as international partners, the GSF established a series of “Virtual Brown Bag” presentations.
The brainchild of our VP of Member and Partner Relations, Steve Jones, these are ~30 minute, unclassified sessions that feature a speaker from government or academia focused on a specific SOF topic.
As Steve says, “short and pithy updates on a regular basis keep our audience engaged and informed on our actions and the state of SOF across the globe.”
All in all, Steve hosted 14 Virtual Brown Bags in the second half of 2020. Some noteworthy Brown Bag speakers in 2020 included:
- Col Sean Berg, DCDR SOCPAC: SOF and Great Power Competition
- Mr. Dennis Blasko, an expert on Chinese Military Personnel System
- Lt General (Ret) In Bum Chun, ROK Army: Regional Perspective on China
- MajGen (Ret) Daniel Grammatico, Head of the EU Council and Coordination Cell in the Sahel: Current Situation in Africa
- Capt Steve Lauver, Co-founder AF Ventures: AFWERX
- Col Walter E. Richter, U.S. Army Military Attache Berlin: Security Cooperation
- Mr. Jim Smith, Acquisition Executive for USSOCOM: Armed Overwatch and USSOCOM’s Hyper Enabled Operator
- COL Paul Weizer, PEO SOF Digital Applications at USSOCOM
… and more!
We do want to thank some of our wonderful Partners for supporting these events by sponsoring:
- TACG Solutions
- Black Cape
- Crisis Response Company
As with most things, we couldn’t have done it without you!
MORE to Come!
We are optimistic that we’ll be holding several in-person events again in 2021. However, we aren’t going to let that stop our virtual engagement train.
We will continue our monthly “SOF Stories: Live!”
We will have 1 to 2 Virtual Brown Bags for our Partners each month.
And we will, knowing us, find even more ways to keep our network active and connected in 2021!
THANK YOU and we’ll see you soon…