Tampa Bay was recently the host of many of the world’s Special Operations commanders as they visited the headquarters of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). They were there to share ideas and coordination, as they want to emulate the success the US has had in the Special Operations field.

The Global Special Operations Symposium was created by retired LTC Stu Bradin and he put together the meeting and the organization in Tampa that integrates the Special Ops units from the US with our allies.

Bradin, a former 7th Special Forces Group officer worked directly under former SOCOM commander and Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven.  McRaven launched a hub for all Special Operations forces called J3I which integrated all foreign and US operators in a single hub. The goal was to ensure that regional issues don’t snowball into larger ones.

Romanian Col. Claudio “CD” Dobocan, his nation’s representative to the J3I for 18 months, explained the value.

“Sometimes the distance between Rome and Madrid is shorter here than in Europe,” he said.

Being ensconced inside SOCom headquarters gives Romania’s commando force access to Thomas and to leaders at U.S. Central Command, which also has its headquarters at MacDill, while allowing for increased Romanian input, Dobocan said.

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“We contribute to forward planning,” he said. Representation in J3I also provides a “tool for rapid reaction in case of a crisis.”

The meeting between the commanders on allies and US SOCOM is invaluable. They can share ideas and training. They can work out coordination in advance of sensitive operations that will cut down on any potential problems the operators would face.

And most importantly, the commanders may share their thoughts on potential hotspots and problem areas in the world. The increasing Russian aggressiveness in the world in the past few years was not lost on the attendees.

“The next fight, which is staring us right in the face . . . is Russia,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Hix, the Army’s director of strategy, plans and policy, speaking at the symposium about a range of potential challenges.

“They study our playbook,” said Hix, adding that the Russians have made investments “to challenge us in a number of areas. Look at Ukraine and actions in Syria. We see harbingers of future war there in the speed of violence and lethality they bring to the battlefield.”

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Photo courtesy DOD