I spent the week before Memorial Day in Tampa, FL at the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). For the past several years, Sealevel has exhibited at this show, and I am always amazed at the wide assortment of weapons and tools our military and private industry have developed to protect our national interests. More impressive are the people that I meet each year, warfighters of all ranks who have devoted their lives to serving our country.
This year I had the special privilege of attending the SOFIC Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation as the guest of Bill Rusher. Bill’s close friend and college roommate at Georgia Tech, Dr. Frank Butler, was honored for his lifetime of contributions to improving medicine and combat trauma casualty care for US Forces. Captain Butler is a former Navy Seal and was the command surgeon for SOCOM for a number of years. It was indeed an honor to meet and spend time talking with Capt. Butler that evening.
Capt. Butler’s award was presented by Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander U.S. Special Operations Command, US Navy, who also spoke and introduced the guest speaker, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One year ago, Adm. McRaven, then commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) planned and directed Operation Neptune Spear, the special operations mission that killed Osama bin Laden. Hearing Admiral McRaven’s comments that evening confirmed for me how fortunate we are to have such dedicated and talented individuals protecting our country.
The theme for SOFIC was “Building the Global SOF Partnership.” Secretary Clinton spoke on the importance of building international alliances to fight terrorism and protect our national interests, including new initiatives in the areas of counterterrorism and cyber security. There were many foreign military officers in attendance for the event, and Secretary Clinton commended their efforts. The secretary also noted that as terrorist organizations are weakened and become more decentralized, building an international counterterrorism network becomes even more important.