TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and Global Special Operations Foundation (GSOF) will host Special Operations Forces (SOF) Week in Tampa, Fla., May 8-11.
SOF Week combines a defense industry conference with an annual convention for Special Operators at a large downtown campus around the Tampa Convention Center, the Marriott Water Street and the Westin Waterside.
“Our nation’s Special Operations Forces remain a national advantage as we enter a decisive
decade. That advantage is amplified via the unique team composed of the Department of
Defense, the interagency, allies and partners, academia, and industry,” said Gen. Bryan P.
Fenton, Commander USSOCOM.
“This year’s SOF Week provides an unparalleled venue for the team of teams to gather for collaboration, education, and innovation for the betterment of our people, the profession and in support of SOF’s role in the National Defense Strategy.”
At SOF Week, SOF community members and stakeholders will hear the USSOCOM Commander discuss his priorities of People, Win and Transform. Attendees will also hear from the Acquisition Executive and many more defense leaders. Discussions will cover acquisition, emergent technologies, critical capabilities, military transition from active duty, warfighter health and wellness issues, and strategies for the current and future fight.
The exhibition will cover multiple floors and is organized by USSOCOM Program Executive Office (PEO) areas of focus (C4 & Special Reconnaissance, Digital Applications, Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, Maritime, SOF Warrior and Services & Support Activity) to facilitate the interaction between SOF and Industry.
Registration is now open for both participants and media, and is required for everyone who wishes to attend SOF Week at https://www.sofweek.org/attend/registration. USSOCOM military and civilian members wishing to attend should contact their organization for registration instructions.
“SOF Week is one of the most important events of the year for USSOCOM, and SOF Week’s industry conference is indispensable to the command’s acquisition program,” said Mr. James Smith, USSOCOM Acquisition Executive. “The industry conference gives us the opportunity to educate and inform more of our industry partners about USSOCOM’s acquisition requirements and priorities to support the National Defense Strategy in one week than in the rest of the year combined.”
SOF WEEK FORMAT
In 2021, USSOCOM decided to expand the event to a broader convention for the entire SOF community, akin to an “AUSA National Meeting” for the U.S. Army or the “AFA National Convention” for the U.S. Air Force.
The Global SOF Foundation (GSOF) was selected as the co-sponsor with Clarion Events, a premier global exhibition organizer, for SOF Week 2023. The contract was signed in November 2022.
GSOF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to build and grow an international network of military, government, commercial, and educational stakeholders in order to advance SOF capabilities and partnerships to confront global and networked threats.
THE SOF WEEK AGENDA
The SOF Week 2023 program has more than 100 speakers, beginning with keynotes from GEN Bryan P. Fenton, the USSOCOM Commander, and Mr. Jim Smith, the USSOCOM Acquisition Executive. City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will open SOF Week with an official proclamation.
The theme of SOF Week is “People | Win | Transform,” directly aligned with the top three Priorities for USSOCOM for 2023. The agenda includes programming that tackles each of those focus areas.
“People. ‘Humans are more important than hardware’ speaks to our center of gravity and our #1 Enterprise Priority–our People. Our Force and families are USSOCOM’s competitive and comparative advantage. Our People are the reason we ‘win.’ In support of current and future mission successes, we will recruit, assess, select, educate, train, diversify, equip, and transform our innovative and groundbreaking team.”
USSOCOM 2023 Fact Book
Programming focused on “People” includes panels and sessions on:
- Attracting and Selecting Key Talent
- Total Human Performance: Today and Tomorrow
- Impact of Brain Health on Mental Wellness
- USSOCOM Warrior Care and POTFF Update
- USSOCOM Awards Ceremony and Dinner, a Wednesday evening event that will honor some of the year’s greatest achievers in SOF
- Hon. Susan Gordan, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
- Mr. Darren Shand, Manager, New Zealand All Blacks
- Mr. Alex Guerrero, Co-Founder, TB12 Method
“Win. We will ‘Win’–every time, every place, in any environment. The ‘SOF Way’ is unconventional, irregular, asymmetric, asynchronous, and done alongside the U.S. Government Interagency, as well as with Allies/Partners.”
USSOCOM 2023 Fact Book
Programming that will focus on “Win” includes panels and sessions on:
- Winning Left of Conflict
- The SOF Value in Strategic Competition
- The Role of SOF in Counter-Terrorism and Crisis Response
- Hon. Michael G. Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
- Retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, former Secretary of National Defense, Philippines
- Ambassador Anne Patterson, Kissinger Senior Fellow, Jackson School of Global Affairs, Yale University
“Transform. USSOCOM will trail-blaze, and lead, for DoD and the Nation. As stewards of precious resources, we will meet current and future challenges via optimizing, modernizing, innovating, inventing, and transforming our people, organizations, and technology.”
USSOCOM 2023 Fact Book
Agenda items that will focus on “Transform” includes panels and sessions on:
- Harnessing the Power of Tech Innovation for SOCOM
- Transformative Emerging Technologies
- SOF Week Innovation Theater
- Dr. Andrew Moore, former Director of Google Cloud AI
- Ms. Amy Gilliland, President, General Dynamics Information Technology
- Retired Gen. Terrence “Shags” O’Shaughnessy, Sr. Advisor & VP, Special Programs,
- Mr. Thomas Tull, businessman, entrepreneur, film producer
- Mr. Alejandro Villanueva, Lead NFL Analyst with FOX Deportes, Former NFL Player
- Mr. Nate Boyer, Co-Founder and President of the Board, Merging Vets and Players
In addition to the USSOCOM priorities, other events will occur across the SOF Week Campus.
- SOF for Life Transition Sessions: In addition to a full day SOF for Life Transition Seminar hosted by The Honor Foundation, there will be shorter sessions focused on topics like VA Benefits and Financial Readiness.
- Professional Development Sessions: The agenda features multiple opportunities for professional growth, such as Rapid DNA in Forensics, Cybersecurity, and Project Management.
- SOF Authors’ Forums: Authors who have written books on SOF-focused topics can apply to take one of our SOF Author’s Forum sessions, which will feature a Q&A and Book Signing.
- Community Networking Opportunities: The agenda has networking opportunities targeted toward some of the more niche facts of SOF, including a SOF Community
Corridor Networking Reception for SOF non-profits and a Partner Nation Meet and Greet for the visiting representatives from international partner nations.
To see the FULL SOF Week agenda, please click on the link below:
AMPLIFYING THE INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT
SOF Week’s multi-faceted agenda does not diminish the long-time nucleus of this conference: industry engagement.
SOF Week will continue all of the industry opportunities from previous renditions of this conference, including:
- Monday’s industry-focused sessions, such as SBIR 101, CRADA Crash Course, Intro to SOF AT&L, and the SOFwerx Overview. You can see the full Monday schedule here.
- PEO Overview Briefs, all of which will take place in the “PEO Row” of the Tampa Convention Center on Tuesday of SOF Week. You can see the full Tuesday schedule here.
- PEO Deep Dive Briefs, all of which will take place in the “PEO Row” of the Tampa Convention Center on Wednesday of SOF Week. You can see the full Wednesday schedule here.
SOF Week will amplify and grow opportunities for industry with more ways to engage:
- PEO 1-on-1 Meetings: These meetings have been a staple of USSOCOM’s previous conferences, but this year industry will have to apply for a meeting slot and USSOCOM representatives will select who receives the meetings.
- SOF Week Innovation Theater: This theater will be held in conjunction with USSOCOM’s Science & Technology Directorate (S&T). This theater will provide an opportunity for companies with innovative technology and solutions, addressing SOCOM priority capability needs, to present their solution to USSOCOM AT&L representatives and USSOCOM SMEs. This will also be done through an online application process.
- Maritime Demos: In February and early March, GSOF put out a call for industry to apply to conduct limited maritime demonstrations near the Tampa Convention Center dock area. Several companies applied and are looking forward to demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday of SOF Week.
- Industry Matchmaking: This affiliate event taking place on the Wednesday of SOF Week will allow industry to apply for slots as a Prime or Small organization in order to meet each other. Register to participate here.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for industry is the SOF Week Exhibition Hall. Some highlights of the Exhibition Hall include:
- It will span multiple floors of the Tampa Convention Center
- It will be organized by USSOCOM PEO
- It will have a maximum exhibit space size so as to offer space to more organizations
- It is expected that the full area will feature 600+ vendors
The Upper Level of the SOF Week Exhibition Hall, or the 3rd floor, will feature exhibitors primarily focused on the SOF Warrior, Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, and C4ISR areas of interest. The Mezzanine level will feature Government Booths hand-selected by USSOCOM to participate.
The Lower Level covers the Ground floor of the Tampa Convention Center, and will feature exhibitors primarily focused on Service & Support, Maritime, and Digital Applications.
It will also feature the SOF Community Corridor–a hub for 30+ non-profits, and a Small Business Bunker. We have over 35% Small Businesses across the Exhibition Hall. Small Businesses have some of the most innovative capabilities around, this corridor is intended to bring those capabilities to the forefront.
The Outdoor Exhibitions, which will be in the areas around the Tampa Convention Center, feature static displays and dock spaces.
See the floorplan in its entirety here: https://www.sofweek.org/sof-week-floor-plan.
A SECURE SOF WEEK CAMPUS
SOF Week has been designed as a “campus” event. The primary buildings in the Campus are the Tampa Convention Center, the Marriott Water Street, the JW Marriott, and the Westin Waterside.
The Tampa Convention Center will primarily house the Exhibition Hall, PEO Row, meeting spaces, and registration.
The Marriott Water Street will primarily house the Conference Sessions.
The Westin Waterside will be home to a variety of breakout sessions, such as the SOF Authors’ Forums, Industry Matchmaking, and the GSOF Partner Nation Meet and Greet.
The JW Marriott will be home to the USSOCOM Awards Ceremony and Dinner on Wednesday night. With so many buildings involved, we understand that the event security must be world class.
The event security has been fully funded by GSOF and includes:
- Attendee verification: Before any individual’s registration is confirmed, they will go hrough a vetting process that confirms they are who they say they are;
- Attendee checkpoints: Before accessing any areas of SOF Week, attendees will be required to have their badge scanned to a) confirm via photo that it is their badge, and b) ensure that they have access to that area or session;
- Advanced weapons detection systems: Our team is adopting a state-of-the-art security technology that provides touchless security screening that delivers safety without sacrificing the visitor experience.
ADDITIONAL NON-SOF WEEK EVENTS OF INTEREST
These include, but are not limited to:
- SOFstock: A concert happening on Tuesday night, featuring headliner Brad Paisley, and hosted by the Spookstock Foundation.
- 38 Challenge: A fitness opportunity happening on Wednesday morning in memory of former USNA linebacker #38 and USMC Captain Matthew Brewer, who died by suicide in 2021.
This list will continue to grow, so stay tuned to the Additional Events page for details.
A WIDE-REACHING ATTENDEE BASE
The primary objective for SOF Week is to include and engage as many members of the SOF community as possible. Industry can and will come to the event, but a key group doesn’t always have ample opportunity to attend is military and government representatives.
For that reason, GSOF is funding the TDY costs for 80 – 89 military personnel from the USSOCOM Component and Theater Special Operations Commands. We are doing this to ensure that more stakeholders from the geographically dispersed community can participate and offer their expertise.
GSOF has increased the number of Per Diem hotel rooms available within 1 mile of the SOF Week Campus and also grew the number to 324 Per Diem rooms for military and government attendees – 223 more rooms than in 2022. This is important because, often, if a government or a military representative can’t get a per diem rate hotel room, they won’t be permitted to travel.
GSOF has ensured that the pool of attendees who get free access to SOF Week includes ALL U.S. DoD employees–not just those within the USSOCOM bubble. This also includes the Active Duty Military from our international partners.