'Power of partnerships' is focus of Special Operations Forces convention

By Matthew Olay, DOD NewsMay 10, 2024

Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton, commander of Special Operations Command, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter deliver keynote remarks at Special Operations Forces Week 2024 in Tampa, Fla., May 7, 2024.
Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton, commander of Special Operations Command, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter deliver keynote remarks at Special Operations Forces Week 2024 in Tampa, Fla., May 7, 2024. (Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marleah Miller) VIEW ORIGINAL

TAMPA, Fla. — Senior leadership from U.S. Special Operations Command today emphasized the significant role that partnership plays in accomplishing the mission of special operations forces during keynote remarks at the start of Special Operations Forces Week 2024 in Tampa.

While delivering a joint speech to roughly 3,000 convention attendees, Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter ­— Socom's commander and senior enlisted leader, respectively — spoke about how global challenges require international SOF solutions.

"We often speak about the power of partnerships, and we want to double down on that today because this conference is the manifestation of the power of partnerships," Fenton said.

Framing SOF Week as "a collision of differing perspectives crucial to solving intractable problems that our [partner and ally] nations depend on special operations to solve," Fenton and Shorter spent the early part of their remarks recapping Socom's three priorities: people, win, and transform.

"People are our number one enterprise priority, and they are our comparative and competitive advantage," Fenton said.

"And that team includes our partners — whether in our many courses in Joint Special Operations University or the 28 nations right in our headquarters, as well as the numerous SOF relationships we have around the globe."

This year's convention has 20,000 registrants attending from 75 countries.

As to the priority to win, Fenton said the global SOF team wins "today and tomorrow, through our people providing options for decision-makers and dilemmas to our adversaries."

U.S. Air Force Special Tactics operators, assigned the 21st and 24th Special Operations Wing, observe the range before conducting close air support training during Emerald Warrior 23 at Eglin Range, Florida, April 24, 2023. Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations exercise involving U.S. Special Operations Command forces training to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict.
U.S. Air Force Special Tactics operators, assigned the 21st and 24th Special Operations Wing, observe the range before conducting close air support training during Emerald Warrior 23 at Eglin Range, Florida, April 24, 2023. Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations exercise involving U.S. Special Operations Command forces training to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerreht Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL

He added that the SOF community's three missions of strategic competition, crisis response and counterterrorism are accomplished through the power of partnership.

Regarding the priority of transformation, Shorter credited Socom's partnerships with academia, industry and the entire international SOF team with keeping Socom "at the cutting edge."

"And, of course, there is tech," he added. "Seabed to space, cyber to fiber, your Socom team — fueled by the power of partnerships — is all about people."

While providing an overview of the current geopolitical landscape as viewed through the eyes of Socom, Fenton credited the international SOF community with helping form such an assessment.

"We see and sense more because of our partners," he said. "And what I outline is a shared-sight picture."

In laying out that picture, the two leaders made mention of global adversaries working to degrade the very partnerships that Fenton and Shorter spent much of their keynote remarks lauding.

"Our adversaries seek to divide and weaken the power of these partnerships, and to challenge us even more with their hardware and tactics," Fenton said.

Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton, commander of Special Operations Command, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter deliver keynote remarks at Special Operations Forces Week 2024 in Tampa, Fla., May 7, 2024.
Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton, commander of Special Operations Command, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shane W. Shorter deliver keynote remarks at Special Operations Forces Week 2024 in Tampa, Fla., May 7, 2024. (Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marleah Miller) VIEW ORIGINAL

Additionally, Shorter said, the U.S. and its allies are seeing the character of war rapidly changing — with uncrewed robotics, ubiquitous surveillance tools, and artificial intelligence all working in concert to create a set of "wicked problems" that "defy simple solutions, require ongoing management, and have far-reaching global consequences."

Despite such challenges, Fenton said Socom is rising to the occasion by "delivering asymmetric and asynchronous advantage and opportunities for our nation, across the globe, alongside our allies and our partners [and] providing dilemmas and challenges for our adversaries."

Prior to segueing into a question-and-answer session, the two senior leaders rounded out their prepared remarks by reemphasizing Socom's commitment to robust partnerships.

"The foundation for Socom's missions is our partnerships — forged by generational relationships and grounded in trust," Fenton said.

Jointly sponsored by Socom and the Global SOF Foundation, SOF Week — which runs through May 10 — is "an annual conference for the international SOF community to learn, connect and honor its members," according to the event's official website.

The highlights of this year's event include several keynote speakers, professional development seminars, industry engagements and a live capabilities demonstration.