Global SOF Foundation | Empowering SOF through Global Partnership
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September 2014 

The Global SOF Foundation (GSF) officially rolled out at a reception on May 19, 2014. In less than four months, we have gained a lot of momentum - a direct reflection of the support we are receiving from our partners and members.

The GSF currently has seven Founding Partners, two Sustaining Partners, and 16 Small Business Partners. We are working with over 30 companies to add the GSF to their 2015 budgets. The recruitment of corporate partners is going very well, and our goal is to double the numbers in the first year.

Active duty military and police can join the GSF for free. We currently have over 275 Individual Members, of which 19 are Lifetime Members. As the GSF becomes more well-known, we believe this number will rise to around 1,000 members in the first year.

In early June 2014 we opened up our social media campaign, and we have had solid success. Our LinkedIn Group surpassed 1,000 members in the first six weeks, and it seems to grow 10 - 20 people a week. You can also follow us on Twitter (@GlobalSOF) and Facebook

On August 28, 2014, the GSF hosted a Happy Hour at Jackson's Bistro immediately after the USSOCOM Change of Command in the Tampa Convention Center. We had 170 people attend the Happy Hour.

In an effort to grow the Foundation to better inform the global SOF community, the GSF is hosting several events this fall. On October 3, 2014, there will be a West Coast Reception at the Hilton Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) from the House Armed Services Committee will be the guest speaker. This event is on the opening day of the Miramar Air Show and the same week as the 50th Anniversary for the Special Boat Units. 

On November 12-13, 2014, the GSF is hosting an Arctic Security Forum at the RAND Corporation office in Pentagon City, Virginia. We are inviting SOF from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Great Britain, the NATO SOF Headquarters, Special Operations Command North, and Special Operations Command Europe, as well as academia, think tanks and industry to attend. The purpose of the forum is to highlight the challenges of operating in the Arctic. This event will be the first in a series of events to develop appropriate materiel solutions that will help operators.

Additionally, in the evening of November 13, 2014, the GSF will host a reception at the Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City. We are inviting people from the entire D.C. area, to include the foreign military attaches assigned to Washington. We are honored that Ms. Michele Flournoy, CEO of the Center for New American Security and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will be the keynote speaker.

The Programming Committee is also working on the inaugural Global SOF Forum to be held at the Trade Winds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida in February 2015. We encourage our partners and members to participate in the committee to help us make this a unique event.

We want to thank our partners and members for the work they are doing in support of the Foundation. The GSF is a partner/member-run non-profit, and we rely on the membership to drive the direction of the Foundation. We greatly appreciate your time and passion for SOF.

Stuart W. Bradin
Joint SOF HQ Series
In This Issue
Upcoming Events

GSF Members enjoy happy hour in Tampa on Aug. 28, 2014 in honor of the USSOCOM Change of Command.

Partner Spotlight


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The first in our Joint SOF HQ Series

by Tess deBlanc-Knowles

A true SOF operation is inherently joint, and a joint command ensures a streamlined, organized, and logical conduct of SOF missions across the spectrum of operations. Joint SOF commands are critical: they bring a single SOF national voice to the SOF components; they become both a custodian and a champion of SOF equities within a defense establishment; and they establish unity of command over a nation's SOF. The consolidation of SOF effort under a joint command is a central component in the institutionalization of SOF as a national strategic asset that can be employed to meet a nation's most acute requirements and priorities. 

Since 2001, unconventional threats to global stability have not receded, but metastasized. The threat environment faced by the U.S. and its partners today 
demands an optimization of SOF assets. The primary threats to national security and global stability manifest in terrorist networks, transnational criminal organizations, rogue states, and the intersections and nodes of cooperation among these unconventional actors. The threats are global, networked, and adaptable, defying conventional approaches to counter them. 

The capabilities possessed by SOF: from direct action to unconventional warfare to military assistance to information support operations, have a central role to play in any strategy to counter current and future threats. However, the ability of SOF to exert this full range of capabilities in a coordinated, timely, and strategic manner rests on the simple factor of organization: whether national SOF assets are organized into a joint SOF command.

Take U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), for example. It took an act of Congress to legislate USSOCOM into existence. The failure of Operation Eagle Claw in 1980 had clearly demonstrated the inability of U.S. SOF to interoperate effectively to execute a joint mission. Thus, in 1986, Congress attached a bill to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1987 to establish USSOCOM, a Major Force Program (MFP-11) funding line for SOF, and its civilian oversight in the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; organizing all U.S. SOF under a four star commander tasked to man, train, and equip the nation's SOF. 


In the years since its establishment, USSOCOM has broken down the barriers to foster interoperability between the different branches of SOF, increased coordination with conventional partners, and worked to swiftly acquire and develop special operations peculiar equipment.  When USSOCOM was formed in 1987, the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) were commanded by an O6, and had less than 30 personnel.  TSOCs now come under the command of 1 and 2 star general or flag officers, and have expanded staffs and heightened responsibilities.  USSOCOM is strengthening the TSOCs, building their capabilities to enable the full spectrum of theater response options. 


This development did not occur swiftly.  In fact, it is still underway.  It wasn't until last year, in 2013, that USSOCOM was granted combatant command over the TSOCs, a development that streamlined command and control of all U.S. SOF.  Executed through the "Forces For" Memorandum issued by the Secretary of Defense, the change established unity of command of U.S. SOF in USSOCOM, while preserving the operational control of Geographic Combatant Commanders over deployment of TSOC forces. 


As it matures, USSOCOM is making progress towards interoperability and unity of command, better enabling the employment of U.S. SOF as a strategic asset to address national security priorities across the globe.  

Europe: The Influence of NSHQ
Despite the prevalence of Special Operations Forces around the world, it is only in recent years that we have seen many countries take steps to create joint SOF commands or joint SOF entities.  Currently in Europe, seven nations have joint SOF commands, and six more are in the intermediary stages of establishing a joint SOF command. Yet, in many countries, it remains common to have disparate SOF entities scattered throughout different services and/or ministries. 


The relatively recent trend in the formation of joint SOF commands, primarily in Europe, can be attributed to the growing recognition of SOF as a strategic resource; the influence of NATO SOF Headquarters (NSHQ), established in 2007; and the outreach and engagement activities of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe. The NSHQ is the primary point of development, coordination, and direction for all NATO Special Operations-related activities, with the goal to optimize employment of NATO SOF.  As a component of this mission, the NSHQ fulfills an advocacy role, advancing the understanding of SOF both within the NATO context and in the defense establishments of Alliance members and partners.  When the NSHQ was established, just three NATO SOF partners had joint SOF commands.


In 2008, the NSHQ commissioned a study on NATO SOF, a comprehensive analysis of how to best organize, conduct, and support SOF in terms of chain of command, funding, functionality, and service orientation - from the tactical to the strategic level.  In essence, the study charted a methodical approach for a NATO nation to establish the desired end-state of a legitimate, organized, and optimized national SOF capability.  


The need for a joint SOF entity to consolidate and protect SOF equities in terms of budgets, authorities, missions, and roles emerged as a core finding.  The study made clear the obvious: unless you have a seat at the table, you are not a viable force.  The study found that, without a joint SOF entity, a country cannot effectively implement a strategy for enhancement and adaptation of SOF to meet national security objectives, nor link resourcing to a national SOF vision.


In order to achieve the aforementioned, the study defined three models of joint SOF entities: a national military staff element, a component command, and a separate service; noting that a country's specific resources and requirements will determine the right model to pursue.


The findings of the study, and the continued advocacy of the NSHQ, have played a role in the emergence of SOF command entities across the Alliance.


Partnering for the Future

As the U.S. and its peers move forward with a strategic focus on partnership and building partner capacity, the formation of a joint SOF command should feature centrally in engagement with partner SOF.  For, as the NATO SOF Study found, having a joint SOF entity is the lynchpin for a viable SOF capability that is trained, equipped, and properly utilized to meet a nation's security strategy. 


Of course, given its impressive number of personnel and resources, the joint SOF command of a partner force will likely not look like USSOCOM. Nor should it. 


In working with partners who have a nascent SOF capability, emphasizing at this early stage the need for a joint SOF HQ is critical to ensuring the optimization and efficacy of the force in the long term.  In his recent commencement speech at West Point, President Obama announced his intention to establish a new $5 billion counterterrorism partnership fund, to "allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines."


In applying these funds to partnership initiatives with other Special Operations Forces, the formation of a joint SOF command should feature as a core component, and the ultimate end-state, in the capacity building strategy.  Focusing on joint SOF commands from the outset will enable both the U.S. and its partners to better address national security priorities and optimize the size and roles of SOF in support of countering current and future threats.  


The Joint SOF Series

Over the next few months we will profile various joint SOF entities, HQs, and trends from around the globe, taking stock of the status of SOF as a national asset.  

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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 nonprofit 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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