Insights from SOF Week: Collaboration, Data Challenges, and Cybersecurity in the Special Operations Community

By Francis Rose
Host, Fed Gov Today

Industry-government collaboration was theme number one for leaders at SOF Week, the premier national convention dedicated to Special Operations Forces, May 8-11, 2023. The evolving data landscape and cybersecurity concerns were prominent topics of discussion too.

Government and industry leaders agreed that understanding the government mission was critical to success in that collaboration. Open dialogue has driven the successful examples both sides discussed at SOF Week. Industry leaders said government’s clear messages about mission needs, instead of prescriptive requirements lists, would help them tailor solutions to meet the unique needs and objectives of their government partners. Industry leaders said they were eager to share “the art of the possible” with their government counterparts, and openness on the government side to solutions instead of requirements would help them do that. SOF leaders said the conference served as an ideal platform for facilitating these interactions. Industry leaders pointed to innovative contracting vehicles like Other Transaction Authorities, and commercial solutions, to show potential to streamline acquisitions and improve operational efficiency.

Data challenges face special operators at every level. Industry experts recognized the power of self-service analytics in harnessing the potential of data. They also highlighted the need to bridge the gap between individuals and data. Those industry experts proposed simplifying data access through streamlined acquisition processes, self-service platforms, and commercial industry solutions. Military leaders say empowering users to ask complex questions and perform advanced analytics without extensive data science expertise will be vital in modernizing the department’s practices and adopting a data-driven approach to optimize mission outcomes.

Cybersecurity emerged as another top focus during these discussions. The zero trust concept is the heart of the department’s cyber protection, and the SOF community is no exception. Industry leaders stressed the importance of strategic implementation, not just “sprinkling some zero trust” onto the department’s cyber challenges. Cybersecurity, those leaders say, will be the means to securing the extended perimeter, and protecting data integrity at the edge. Cyber protections will also allow the department to realize the full potential of edge computing, allowing data distribution and analysis in the field without the data having to return to home base.

All of these conversations highlighted the importance of open dialogue, collaboration, and the strategic utilization of cutting-edge technologies to address the ever-changing needs of the government and enhance mission capabilities. By actively engaging in these discussions and fostering a culture of cooperation, the SOF community and its stakeholders believe they can make transformative progress in navigating the complexities of the modern era.

National Security Insights from SOF Week:

Maj Gen Matt Trollinger, USMC, Commander, Marine Forces Special Operations Command



Snehal Antani, CEO, Horizon3 ai



Schuyler Moore Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Central Command



Brian Drake - Federal CTO, Accrete AI





Conner Kirkham, Director, DoD - Alteryx



Alex Levy, Co-founder & CEO -



Rich Campbell, Sr., Systems Engineer - Cohesity



William Sullivan, GM & SVP Public Sector - Denodo



Chris Holmes, CEO -



Larry Whiteside Jr, CISO - RegScale



Craig Mueller, VP, U.S. Public Sector - Recorded Future



Lloyd Dabbs, Director, Public Sector Business Development - Sandbox AQ



Quay Barnett, Executive Vice President - Striveworks



Dan Goslee, GM - US Federal Business Verkada