On June 5-6, 2013, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA) and the International Security Studies Program of The Fletcher School of Tufts University will convene a high-level conference in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). “Positioning Special Operations Forces for Global Challenges” will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown Washington, D.C. (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). This will be the fortieth IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy and Policy, in a series widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier strategic dialogues.
This meeting will include top U.S. and allied/partner country officials, senior military commanders, Congressional leaders, academic-policy specialists and other non-governmental experts for a two-day exchange on the growing importance of special operations forces (SOF) for twenty-first-century security. Among the topics to be addressed are the role of SOF in combatting transnational threats, enhancing the ability of USSOCOM and the Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) to work with allies and partners to build essential SOF capabilities, and new opportunities for USSOCOM and the Department of Defense (DoD) to collaborate with the broader U.S. “whole of government” community, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other civil and military partners to fashion a more robust SOF network to meet global challenges.
Special attention will also be given to the question of how best to leverage SOF capabilities as a key tool for crisis prevention and crisis response in an era of tighter defense budgets and post-Afghanistan military downsizing and force restructuring. Admiral William McRaven, USN, commander, USSOCOM, will be an active participant in the conference, together with other combatant and service component commanders, their senior staff, and prominent U.S. and allied/partner country national security officials and experts.
In addition to Admiral McRaven, confirmed speakers include Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, chairman, House Armed Services Committee; Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, vice chair, Hills & Company International Consultants, and former under secretary of state for political affairs and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Michèle A. Flournoy, board of directors, Center for a New American Security, and former under secretary of defense for policy; General John F. Kelly, USMC, commander, U.S. Southern Command; Ambassador Frederick “Rick” Barton, assistant secretary of state and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization operations; Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, foreign correspondent for the Atlantic, and best-selling author; Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland, Jr., USA, deputy commander, USSOCOM; Vice Admiral Michael LeFever, USN, deputy director, strategic operational planning, National Counterterrorism Center; Rear Admiral Sean A. Pybus, USN, commander, U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command; Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, commander, Canada Special Operations Forces; Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore ambassador to the United States; Beth Cole, director, USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation; Thomas Debass, acting special representative for global partnerships, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Camille Grand, director, Foundation for Strategic Research, France; James Thomas, vice president and director of studies, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Dr. Michele Malvesti, lecturer and senior fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University, and vice president in the national security sector, Science Applications International Corporation; and Dr. Sarah B. Sewall, lecturer in public policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.