When I learned that Nick Coffman was departing SOFREP for greener pastures I felt as many of you do. Gut punched. I’d known Nick for about a year in total and only worked with him for a handful of months, but in that short time, I witnessed his unerring quality and his commitment to the work, the writers, and the SOFREP community. Nick’s the guy you want in your foxhole; the guy you want next to you on the firing line. His departure marks a huge loss for SOFREP.
To make matters worse, his departure is preceded by that of Stavros Atlamazoglou, a man who’s earned the respect of everyone who knows him. While I’ve only ever conversed with Stavros online, I could sense immediately that he possesses the rare combination of grit, selflessness, and intellect. For every article he wrote or edited, there were a hundred tasks — most of them thankless — that he carried out every day without so much as a raised eyebrow.
It’s in this difficult place which I find myself.
Let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a relative nobody, maybe even an interloper. I’m an Army Reservist who did a single tour in Afghanistan. I don’t have any tabs. I’m neither an operator nor a grey man.
In fact, you’re probably wondering why the hell I’ve been tapped to be Nick’s replacement as Editor-in-Chief.
From day one, Nick and Stavros told me that what makes SOFREP unique is the community that it has cultivated. Emanating from the center of this publication are the rings of people — readers, listeners, viewers, subscribers, members — all clinging onto the notion that what’s happening in this world is deeper than the oceans of content on the 24-hour news cycle. More complex than a hashtag. More nuanced than 280 carefully crafted characters can possibly express. It’s the devotion of readers like you that makes this publication more than a URL, a message board, or a Reddit thread.
But SOFREP is also a place for exchange. Pick any article and you’ll see hundreds of comments from readers deeply invested in the topics, passionately sharing their own experiences, ideas, and insights. Our team of unrivaled staff writers make SOFREP exceptional, our readers make it extraordinary.
I may not be a highly trained or decorated veteran, but I share the key ingredient that put each of us in uniform in the first place. It’s got a lot of names: patriotism, courage, loyalty, bravery. I call it the burning building complex. It’s the unstoppable impulse to run into a burning building to get everyone out or die trying. To do any less means not living. The day I learned Nick was stepping down I did the only thing I know how to do: I called Brandon and told him I wanted the job.
I bring with me a well of experience on which I will draw in support of our writers. With experience in a fast-paced newsroom, years spent running a startup in New York City, and long stints in commerce for digital publications, I’m well prepared to take on the challenges of shepherding a digital publishing business in the digital age. I’m also a former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (a rank of which I am proud). I spend my decade in uniform learning how to train, support, and lead soldiers. I’m fluent in Arabic and well versed in the Middle East and North Africa. I’m looking forward to using all of this experience in my new role at SOFREP.
I know that I won’t be able to fill Nick’s shoes. I know that trying to match his writing quality and cadence will be excruciatingly hard. I know that earning the trust of our writers while living up to the expectations of our readers will test my mettle and push me to the edge of my capabilities. The job is a tough one. It doesn’t know vacation. There is no timecard to punch. Few roles carry with them the gravity that this one does. But that’s the point. When the call goes out, you step forward and hope to God that you’ve got what it takes to get the job done. I’m here because I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I feel a sense of honor and humility in knowing that you know what I mean.
The months ahead will test us. Losing bright minds like Nick and Stavros is tough to stomach. Throw in the worst economy since the Great Depression and a global pandemic and you get what my drill sergeants called a soup sandwich.
But make no mistake: SOFREP isn’t going anywhere. We’ll keep the torches burning brightly as I work with our staff to explore new ways to bring you A1 writing, expert analysis, news briefs, and coverage of global events. We’ll continue to focus on military matters and we’ll endeavor to keep the hard-hitting investigative pieces coming. Our weekly podcast will continue with what I hope will be a whole host of interesting and entertaining guests. We’ll continue to work with veteran writers to publish ebooks and printed works. We’ll continue to syndicate the best content from partner sites and bring you exclusive reporting.
To Brandon: Thanks for putting your faith in me. It’s an honor to usher SOFREP into the next era.
To our writers: I expect you to keep me on-task and on-target. At the end of the day, I work for you. It’s my job to make sure that you have the access you need, the resources you require, and the outlet you deserve. I look forward to gaining your trust.
To our readers: I expect you to keep me honest. I’m here to be a facilitator and to make sure that SOFREP delivers for you. We’re nothing without you and the time out of your busy lives that you give us. I look forward to earning your respect.
To Nick and Stavros: Good luck and Godspeed. You’ll always have a home here at SOFREP. I’m looking forward to working with you as regular contributors in the months and years ahead.
Today is a new day and I’m proud and honored to be here with all of you.