Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the commander of SOCOM, addressed attendees virtually on last Tuesday during the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). He stated that the number one priority for SOCOM operators remains the countering of Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs). He emphasized that extremism is a “generational issue.”

Nevertheless, General Clarke, speaking to the virtual crowd from the command’s SOFWERX facility in Ybor City, also said that the command will continue to address near-peer adversaries like Russia and China. Furthermore, he added that looking forward, SOCOM needs to address the “War on Influence” and “War for Talent.”

SOCOM’s primary mission for the past two decades has been fighting terrorist and extremist organizations and operating out of permissive environments, Clarke said. But with the Department of Defense’s shift in priorities, SOCOM must be ready for combating near-peer adversaries. Special Operations Forces, Clarke added, “will remain an integral part of our nation’s solution to tough strategic problems.”

Addressing the “War on Influence”, Clarke stated that the fighting against the terrorist groups of the world does not necessarily deviate from DOD’s shift to near-peer preparation. Our allies, and partnerships are a large part of preparing for future conflicts with near-peers as they are in helping counter-terrorist organizations.