Today, the bistro is overrun with the United States Military, because this conference is not for golf balls or gaming or the International Council of Shopping Centers.Today is the second day of the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC), where U. Special Forces meet the companies that hope to sell them the latest additions to their arsenal. ) There appears to be a gun-smuggling operation going down on a yacht. On the boat’s bottom deck, a dead ringer for Ben Affleck is stalking around in wraparound sunglasses.The whales are the Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics personnel, for whom defense contractors pull out the good swag from under the tablecloths. P, who has now alleged that much of the actual business at a conference like this goes down after-hours, at bars around Tampa. have shoulders, a soft-spoken ex-British army member named Paul Graham.My plastic pouch, meanwhile, is construction-cone orange, with the word in all caps stamped across the front of it. “Hattricks is very popular for this kind of thing, because the waitresses are quite attractive,” he says. (He prefers not to give details of rank or unit “for security reasons.”) Graham is the international sales director of Ultimate Training Munitions, which is a company that makes fake bullets.It moves very quickly in the government agencies.” What about Mr. On the one hand, as Special Forces perform more difficult (and more overall) warfighting around the world, Special Operations Command needs the most top-of-the-line technology, and employing the same tactics venture capitalists use is kind of a brilliant way to procure it.
To someone who has never been before, the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference can be an—let’s say unusual—experience. For example, the most secret thing I can get into at SOFIC is a social event called Operation SOFtalk, which NDIA pitches as an opportunity to “further discussions outside the conference” in casual attire.“My main weapon was a pistol,” he says in a Southern accent so delightfully thick you could top a pie with it.“It’s hard to crawl in and out of a tank with a gun on your back.” In between calling me ma’am, Madison explains how SOFIC works: You don’t just buy military equipment on a show floor.There aren’t many places to go for lunch, so every conference that comes through Tampa creates cliques of people waiting at Jackson’s.Depending on the conference, you might get a load of lumber salesmen or squads of teens dressed in superhero costumes.