The face of war has changed in the past two decades. While the world’s bad guys and the terrorists have been continually morphing and popping up around the globe, as they’re stomped out in one place and reappearing in another, the “good guys” of the world need to network, innovate, and operate, globally. 

That’s why SOFREP was happy to get retired Colonel Stu Bradin, the President of Global SOF Foundation, to spend some time with us and talk about what the Foundation does, what is coming soon, and what issues the Global SOF are facing in the present and will face in the near future.

Bradin spent 32 in uniform for the U.S. Army. Of those, around 25 were in Special Operations units and about 21 of those were spent in overseas assignments. He’s worked in every geographic area and has a wealth of experience from being the commander of a Special Forces A-Team to being the Chief of Staff at USSOCOM. 

As his career was winding down, the Special Operations community that he had joined in the late 1980s had grown tremendously (SOCOM had gone from about 20,000 active-duty personnel to about 75,000). When he was the Chief of Staff for Admiral McRaven in Tampa at SOCOM, he would frequently coordinate with leaders of industry who either did or wanted to do business with SOCOM. One of the things that Bradin heard often from industry leaders was “why doesn’t the Special Operations Command have a professional association?” 

About eight months short of retirement, Bradin started getting job offers from a variety of companies. “Frankly, they were offering me far more money, than I thought I was worth,” he said.  But he also began to believe that the best course for him was creating a non-profit (501c3): a truly professional SOF association. “My value was in my list of contacts within the community. While we didn’t have a dime, but we had an idea and put it on paper over our Thanksgiving break and I then showed it to Admiral McRaven.” McRaven loved it. “This is one of the smartest things you’ve ever come up with,” McRaven told him. 

Bradin founded the Global SOF Foundation in May of 2014. His first paid employee was the Foundations Chief Operating Officer, Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew. She had worked with Bradin at SOCOM and Central Command. They soon got their first seven founding partners, who invested in Global SOF. As Bradin put it, “it was an emotional business decision on their part. They invested in us because they believe in SOF.”

So what is the Global SOF Foundation and what exactly do they do? We’ll get to Bradin’s comments in just a second, but for a brief overview, this is right off their website.

The GSF fills a critical gap in the national security discourse: leading an effort to link like-minded public and private entities and to increase understanding of the role that Special Operations can play in addressing global security challenges, especially those emanating from unconventional and transnational sources. The GSF is not a traditional charity but a professional association for SOF dedicated to advocating for SOF globally.