Global SOF Foundation | Empowering SOF through Global Partnership
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December 2014 

On 19 November 2014, the Global SOF Foundation (GSF) was officially six months old. As of this writing, we have seven Founding Partners, four Sustaining Partners, and 17 Small Business Partners. We have had several verbal commitments, and we know others are pushing to join in 2015. We look forward to having them join as Plank-Holders in the Foundation. The GSF also has 385 Individual Members, including 33 Lifetime Members.

 

We are on track to have 40 Corporate Partners and 1,000 Individual Members by the end of the first year. We have been able to reach these numbers because our partners and members have aggressively supported the GSF. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished in six months.

 

Meaghan and I had the opportunity to visit several of our partners. We saw how Air Scan provides some of the best manned ISR capability to SOF. They have 25 years of experience supporting operations all over the world, and they are without a doubt one of the most rapidly deployable and cost-effective ISR platforms in existence. Most SOF operators have no idea where the feeds come from, but AirScan has been providing a lot of the support to our SOF Task Forces.

 

Our visit to DigitalGlobe in northern Virginia allowed us to see the depth and scope of what it and its partners are doing to support SOF globally. DigitalGlobe's support to the Theater Special Operations Commands allows the U.S. to provide high-definition unclassified imagery and analytics to nations conducting combat operations. With the increase in multinational operations, the assets DigitalGlobe provides are invaluable, and I only hope there is a means to get more of this imagery to our international partners in the future.

 

We also visited the Textron Systems facilities in Hunt Valley, Maryland to see where it manufactures some of its Unmanned Aerial and Unmanned Maritime Systems, as well as develops cased telescoped weapons and ammunition. The weapon we saw is 35% lighter than the current Squad Automatic Weapon, and the ammo is 40% lighter than the current conventional brass ammo. The bulk of the facility is focused on UAS production, and Textron has produced over 500 Shadows. The new Shadow M2 is a capability that we hope can be provided to SOF globally. We were so impressed that we are working to get the Defense Attach�s Association in DC to visit the facilities.

 

I spent a day at World Wide Technology in St. Louis. If you are in the GSF and you have not seen WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) then you need to visit. At the ATC, WWT's customers have the ability to design, run, and evaluate a multi-vendor system based on their requirements to ensure they are getting the best system prior to purchase and going operational. I highly recommend you give them three hours of your time and see how they are supporting their customers.

 

On 2 October 2014, R3 Strategic Support Group hosted a reception on Coronado Island in California for the GSF. We spent time learning about how the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community plays a critical role in a lot of SOF operations.

 

We intend to visit every GSF partner, and we also are adding short articles in our newsletters to ensure that the global SOF community knows what capabilities exist and what can be done to improve SOF interoperability -- educating everyone on who is in the network.

 

We look forward to seeing you at our inaugural Global SOF Symposium in February 2015. 


Sincerely,
Stuart W. Bradin
President
The GSF will host its inaugural Global SOF Symposium on 24-25 February 2015
at the TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida. The theme is "Anticipate the Future," and this event for thought leaders. We are limited to 600 attendees, and it is first-come, first-served. The Symposium offers a truly global agenda and will deliver a truly unique experience.   

Partner Spotlight: R3 Strategic Support Group

R3 is an established, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business founded by career Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers and staffed largely by EOD officers and senior NCOs with extensive operational and leadership experience. Members of R3 have commanded EOD units as well as Joint and Navy Task Forces. Others have served on Joint staffs such as USSOCOM, JSOC, DTRA, JIEDDO, as well as Navy staffs. Many have significant tactical experience and been attached to a broad spectrum of conventional maneuver and special operations forces that include Naval Special Warfare Development Group and Coalition Explosive eXploitation Cells (CEXC).

 

R3 supports organizations across DOTMLPF-P from a unique perspective that includes, but is not limited to EOD, C-IED, asymmetric threat, counter threat network, diving-undersea, and weapons technical intelligence operations. 

Partner Spotlight: Special Applications Group

Founded in 2004 by former members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) and unit members from across SOF, SAG provides innovative, agile, and responsive solutions to enable customers from the U.S. and international defense, security, and intelligence communities to meet dynamic challenges and seize opportunities in today's increasingly complex environment.

 

SAG is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. Its services include: aviation training and support; training and readiness analysis and support; operational testing and evaluation; strategic planning; capabilities based assessments; cyber security solutions; strategic communications; exercise development and support; and program management and services.

Partner Spotlight: Thermopylae

The name "Thermopylae" originates from ancient Greece as the site of a historic battle where, as legend goes, 300 Spartans resisted the forces of the Persian army-the most powerful military force in the world at the time. Like those warriors, TST believes in accomplishing the impossible.

 

TST was founded in 2007 by AJ Clark and a team of seasoned executives with strong federal, intelligence, and technology backgrounds. This team, using their experience and expertise, put together a company built on hard work, innovation, and a desire to conduct business in a way that would change how technology is used within the government. Our approach melds a keen understanding of customer problem sets with leading edge implementation. We are Silicon Valley in the Beltway.

 

TST is a Google for Work Premier Partner, recently awarded the Global Partner of the Year for Maps 2013. Our work with Google has played a key role in developing a unique approach to geospatial software, culminating in our geo framework, iSpatial. Through this strong partnership, TST has supported USSOCOM through an array of programs, focused on building collaborative and highly scalable visualization tools in use today. Our work with the special operations community is also supported by our work with a multitude of Intelligence customers including DIA, COCOM JIOCs, NGA, and others. We provide a cross-section of highly trained engineers for cloud, mobile, big data, geo, cyber, and agile software development advisory and technical services.

In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Global SOF Symposium in St. Pete Beach, FL - Feb. 24-25, 2015
Recent Events
Rep. Scott Peters
  

West Coast Reception: On 3 October 2014, the GSF hosted a reception at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. About 100 people attended, and the venue was beautiful. Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) provided remarks: 

 

"Special Operations Forces play an important role in protecting America's national security, and as a part of San Diego's military community.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I am committed to the bipartisan approach that our Committee has taken to ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need. I want to thank the Global SOF Foundation for their work to support these brave, dedicated service members."

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DNI James R. Clapper

National Capital Region Reception: On 13 November 2014, the GSF hosted a reception at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City, and over 300 people attended, including representatives from nine countries. The Honorable James R. Clapper, the Director of  National Intelligence, provided opening remarks. Watch the video.

 

"The intelligence community and the special operations community both have a long history of doing incredible things together, oftentimes unsung and unpublicized... 
I hope this is the first of many engagements that [the Global SOF Foundation] will facilitate between the intelligence community and the special operations community."
Joint SOF HQ Series

MANDO CONJUNTO DE OPERACIONES ESPECIALES

The second in our Joint SOF HQ series

 

By Tess deBlanc-Knowles

On 10 October 2014, Brigadier General Jaime I�iguez received the official nod: Spain's joint special operations command was granted approval to proceed.  Establishment of the Mando Conjunto de Operaciones Especiales (MCOE) is the latest step in the evolution of Spanish SOF and of their role within Spanish defense. Currently assigned a physical headquarters and a staff of 20 or so officers; and under the capable leadership of Brigadier General Jaime I�iguez, MCOE is working towards achieving an initial operational capability by the end of this year, and a full operational capability by 2016. 

 

Spanish SOF emerged in the 1960s during the Cold War, with a primary mandate of unconventional warfare. Fittingly, for a time, Spanish Army SOF personnel were known as Guerrilleros, a label in which they still take pride. Spanish SOF are now made up of Army, Navy, and Air Force, with Army SOF comprising the largest component.  Spanish Army SOF maintain three Special Operations Groups, with the creation of a fourth Group presently under consideration. Currently, Spanish SOF are deployed across the globe, both on solely SOF missions and in support of conventional efforts.  

 

The MCOE will bring together Spanish SOF - for the first time - in a joint, operational capacity. SOF will remain assigned under the command and control of their respective services and service headquarters, falling under operational control of MCOE when deployed. The role of MCOE will be to coordinate capabilities among the branches of Spanish SOF - both in execution of operations and through development in joint exercises and training. It will be the responsibility of MCOE to develop joint special operations doctrine, enhance joint tactics, techniques, and procedures, and foster interoperability among the branches of Spanish SOF. At a strategic level, the mandate of MCOE will be to define and communicate joint SOF capabilities and requirements, as they relate to operations, to the Spanish Chief of Defense. Through MCOE, Spanish SOF will gain a single, coherent voice to represent the entirety of the joint SOF enterprise to national decision makers.

 

The MCOE did not emerge overnight. Rather, it is the result of a steady development of SOF within the Spanish defense establishment. The embryo of the organization came in 2004 in the formation of the J-3B within the Spanish Joint Operations Command (JOC). The J-3B, with a staff of only four officers, advised the Chief of Staff of the JOC on Special Operations-related issues, to ensure the proper application of SOF. This modest cell evolved in 2012 into the Special Operations Coordinating Nucleus, with a staff of 16 commanded by a full colonel. This office created the foundation upon which MCOE was then established. Once at full operational capability, the MCOE will have a staff of around 60, under the command of a General Officer. 

 

BG I�iguez, the general officer tapped to bring the MCOE into fruition, credits an increased understanding of the role of SOF and of the full spectrum of SOF missions among the military and civilian leadership as contributing to the development of MCOE. Yet, at the same time, he recognizes that there remains much progress to be made on this front: "We are quiet professionals," he says, "but this is not the time to be quiet."  BG I�iguez believes that this is the time for Spanish SOF to clearly communicate to Spanish military and civilian leadership the requirements associated with optimizing Spanish SOF. It is the time to promote an understanding of the strategic asset SOF can provide to Spain; and educate stakeholders on the benefits the evolution of a joint SOF command brings to the Spanish SOF enterprise. 

 

Recent deployment of Spanish SOF under the EU mission in the Central African Republic presents a prime example of the changing political and military tide in Spain, of the increased willingness to deploy SOF as a strategic tool. Spain's parliament voted readily to commit Spanish SOF to the mission, which has since been extended by the EU. Furthermore, in recent years, Spanish SOF have been enabled to lean forward in engagement with the global SOF community: members of Spanish SOF played an integral role in the establishment of the NATO SOF Headquarters (NSHQ), and have maintained a robust level of involvement with the institution; and Spanish SOF have invested in the global SOF network initiative championed by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) by posting a permanent Spanish SOF exchange officer to USSOCOM's J3-International division. 

 

Yet, beyond the increasing recognition of the value of SOF as an instrument in Spain's foreign policy toolbox, two primary factors motivated the development of MCOE: the role of SOF in Spanish national contingency plans and the Spanish commitment to provide the Special Operations Component Command (SOCC) for the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2018.

 

Spain has twice provided the SOCC for the NRF, both times basing it in the Army Special Operations Command HQ. In 2005, the first time Spain took on the NRF SOCC commitment, Spanish SOF attempted, unsuccessfully, to build an ad hoc joint SOF HQ to execute the SOCC. While based out of the Army SOF HQ, the intent was for the initiative to be a joint enterprise, realized through the creation of a joint leadership staff - the Chief of Staff, heads of branches, etc.  These key positions were opened up to all three services. 

 

But, when the positions opened, only a single person volunteered for an assignment. A lack of clarity in exact tasks, duration of the assignment, and C2 relationship, among other uncertainties, plagued the effort.  Facing this situation and a rapidly approaching deadline, the initiative to build a joint key staff was scrapped, and the Army SOF HQ stepped in, with the approval of leadership, to provide the full framework staff for the SOCC commitment. In 2011, a similar situation unfolded: the Army SOF HQ suffered difficulty in recruiting participants from other services, maintaining continuity in joint participation, and building cohesive joint teams.  With this second failure to operate jointly, the takeaway was clear: a permanent joint SOF HQ was needed. 

 

 Spain intends to continue to offer the SOCC capability to NATO every 5-6 years, an effort that will now be managed, in a joint capacity, through MCOE. Both this requirement to coordinate Spanish SOF to regularly execute the NATO SOCC commitment and the standing requirement to coordinate Spanish SOF jointly for a national contingency situation clearly demonstrate the value of establishing a permanent joint SOF command.

 

MCOE is on its way to becoming a critical node in the structure of Spanish SOF, as well as in the broader SOF community.  MCOE will be the coordination and synchronization point not only for joint Spanish SOF activities and operations, but also for combined SOF activities and operations. International engagement - be it operations or exercises - will be coordinated through MCOE to streamline planning and decision-making and maximize opportunities to strengthen interoperability with partner forces. 

 

A press release from the Spanish Chiefs of Defense announcing establishment of the MCOE called it "one of the most important steps in the Armed Forces in recent years, along with the creation of Cyber Command and empowerment of the Intelligence Center of the Armed Forces."

 

MCOE will soon be the focal point for joint SOF in Spain, following the trend across Europe of development of more coherent joint SOF structures.  In fact, many see the influence of the NSHQ in this evolution. In accordance with its mandate, NSHQ has been a strong advocate for European SOF across the continent, promoting and educating on the institutional configurations that enable better utilization of SOF as a national strategic asset.

 

MCOE has cleared its first hurdles, but many more lie ahead of it: it must coherently communicate to the Services the benefit a joint SOF command will provide, it must officially articulate into law its mandate and mission, and it must build out its staff - which is currently manned at less than 50%. 

 

Once these issues are addressed, MCOE can take full responsibility for furthering joint capabilities and capacity of Spanish SOF, and act as the node to clearly communicate SOF operational requirements to Spain's military and civilian leadership. As the tempo of activities of the Command accelerate, so must the understanding of the strategic value a permanent joint SOF structure can add - to the benefit of Spanish SOF, the whole of the Spanish Armed Services, and the country writ-large.   

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Global SOF Foundation
4644 W Gandy Blvd, Suite 4-140 | Tampa, FL 33611
The Global Special Operations Forces Foundation (GSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advocates for all aspects of Special Operations Forces (SOF) development, employment, and sustainment in the fight to defeat globally networked threats. The GSF leads an international effort to increase understanding of Special Operations; advance SOF capabilities; and responsibly promote the role of Special Operations by strategically linking public and private sector initiatives.

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