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Special operations symposium opens on Fort Bragg

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: August 22, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Special operations leaders from more than a dozen countries are at Fort Bragg this week, coming together to help chart the future of modern warfare.

More than 300 attendees, including senior Army leaders, international partners, defense industry experts and figures from across academia are attending the Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo, officials said.

The three-day event offers a mix of keynote addresses, panel discussions and demonstrations united by a single purpose: Ensuring American’s special operations forces and their partners have every advantage they need to win on any battlefield.

“Our ability to maintain our competitive edge is critical,” said Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Beaudette, who opened the event on Tuesday, said the Army’s special operations forces must keep pace with a rapidly advancing world.

He said he expected candid discussions on the future of warfare that feature debate and disagreement.

USASOC co-hosted the symposium along with the Global SOF Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting special operations forces.

In a letter to attendees, Global SOF Foundation president and CEO Stuart W. Bradin said the symposium was the first of its kind held jointly with USASOC, but likely not the last.

He said the event was meant to help connect attendees to key special operations commands to foster better understanding of the mission of special operations forces.

“Most people in this nation have no idea what SOF does and why it is critical to our national security, let alone global security,” Bradin said. “SOF is being used at an unprecedented rate, and that is not going to change.”

The event’s agenda includes panel discussions of multi-domain battle, the synergy between conventional and special operations forces, countering hybrid threats and tactics and the use of neuroscience and neurotechnology in national intelligence and defense.

Beaudette began the symposium with an introduction to Army special operations, which is the nation’s largest special operations component.

USASOC includes Special Forces, Rangers, Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations and special operations aviators.

All work to support one or more of the command’s four complementary capabilities, Beaudette. Those capabilities are indigenous approach, precision targeting, developing understanding and wielding influence and crisis response.

USASOC provides low-cost, high-impact options to address state and a nonstate threats, set conditions for conventional force success and execute discrete activities with minimal force commitment, the general said.

And its soldiers, deployed around the world, provide the nation with an early understanding of threats and areas of opportunities.

“USASOC prides itself as the premier practitioners of irregular warfare,” Beaudette said. And the command is readying its force for peer and near peer fights in both armed conflict and “the competition space short of war.”

“Preventing or deterring conflict is demanding. There is no off-season,” the general said. “It requires persistent forward engagements at points of vulnerability around the world. It requires soldiers to understand the political, cultural and geographic complexities of austere operating environments and the unique challenges faced by our allies and partners. It also requires an advanced understanding of our adversaries and the methods and tech they are employing to shift the competitive space to their advantage.”

Beaudette said USASOC was already adapting to near threats with tactical cyber training and heavily investing in countermeasures for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

But to maintain the nation’s competitive advantage, he said it would take the collaboration of all the services, international partners and industry.

The Modern Warfare Symposium continues Wednesday with speeches from Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, director of the Force Management Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army G-3/5/7, and Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threats Project and senior advisor to the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thursday’s events will include a transition seminar open to active duty special operations troops, their spouses and veterans who have retired or separated less than two years ago.

More information on the event at the Global SOF Foundation is available at globalsoffoundation.org.

©2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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