Where on Earth can you see the King of Jordan and super SEAL Retired Admiral Bill McRaven give rousing speeches at the same place? A place where operators from all over the world gather with former military members and defense contractors exhibiting some of the latest and greatest high-tech equipment in existence. It is a venue where, just for fun, they give an hour-long capabilities exercise complete with an F-35 fly-by, tons of Little Birds buzzing the crowd, and SEALs being dropped into the Bay.

That place was Tampa Bay, Florida, during SOF Week (May 6-10), where SOFREP had a strong presence with yours truly and Loadout Room editor Fred “Garfield” Rowlands in attendance.

Welcome to SOF Week

Special Operations Forces (SOF) Week 2024 in Tampa, Florida, was a riveting, highly educational event highlighting special operations’ critical role in modern military strategy. Hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the week-long event drew thousands of participants, including elite military personnel, defense industry leaders, and international allies.

Keynote Addresses and Panels The event started with a series of keynote addresses from prominent figures, including General Bryan P. Fenton, Commander of SOCOM, who emphasized the evolving nature of global threats and the need for adaptable and resilient special operations forces. Other speakers included top defense officials and international military leaders who discussed strategic priorities, emerging threats, and the importance of multinational cooperation.

Technology Demonstrations and Exhibitions One of the major highlights was the technology demonstrations and exhibitions. Leading defense contractors showcased the latest advancements in military technology, including unmanned aerial systems (UAS), cyber warfare tools, and advanced communication systems. Live demonstrations featured new tactical gear and weaponry, providing attendees hands-on experiences and insights into how these innovations enhance operational capabilities.

Jet Boots
The Jetboots diver propulsion system by Patriot 3. A silent and powerful thigh-mounted propulsion system utilized by US Navy divers.

Training Exercises and Tactical Workshops SOF Week also included numerous training exercises and tactical workshops designed to hone the skills of special operatorsThese sessions covered a wide range of topics, from urban warfare and counterterrorism tactics to cyber defense and intelligence gathering. Participants engaged in simulated scenarios that tested their response to complex, real-world situations, fostering teamwork and strategic thinking.

Specialized Panels and Discussions The event hosted specialized panels that delved into critical issues facing special operations forces today. Discussions included the future of counterinsurgency, the integration of artificial intelligence in military operations, and strategies for combating global terrorism. These panels featured experts from various fields, providing a multidisciplinary problem-solving and strategy development approach.