1. Military

Global symposium brings military leaders, Green Berets documentary to bay area

More than a dozen high-ranking foreign and U.S. military officials are coming to the Tampa area this week to speak at the third annual Global SOF Symposium.
Published Feb. 20, 2017

By the end of this month, there will be about 500 U.S. troops, plus tanks, deployed to Romania. The nation is a key ally in the fight against jihadi groups and a major military supply hub bordering Serbia and Ukraine, two points of instability in Europe.

Against this backdrop, the Romanian chief of defense will be one of more than a dozen high-ranking foreign and U.S. military officials coming to the Tampa area this week to speak at the third annual Global SOF Symposium.

The symposium runs Tuesday through Thursday at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor. Speakers include Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command; Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and top military leaders from Israel, France, Spain and Sweden.

The symposium will also present the first screening of Legion of Brothers, a documentary about Green Berets in the early days of Afghanistan, since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

With Romania creating its own Joint Special Operations Command headquarters, the symposium gives its chief of defense, Gen. Nicolae-Ionel Ciuca, a key opportunity to share his experience with other nations seeking to create similar headquarters, said Stu Bradin, president and founder of the Tampa-based Global SOF Foundation, which is putting on the symposium.

The foundation has no connection to SOCom, but advocates on behalf of special operations issues.

"The opportunity to stand up in front of the special operations community and tell other countries what Romania is doing is really important," said Bradin, a retired Army colonel who served as one of the top aides to former SOCom head William McRaven. "A lot of nations are aspiring to build special operations headquarters and listening to him talk about this stuff is gold."

There also will be panels on special operations technology, international training, protecting the homeland and the future of special operations and conventional forces integration.

For Peter Bergen, the symposium is an ideal venue to present Legion of Brothers' first screening outside a film festival setting.

The documentary was produced for CNN by reporter Bergen; his wife, journalist and Emmy-nominated documentarian Tresha Mabile; Emmy-winning director Greg Barker; and Oscar-nominated John Battsek.

Among the featured Green Berets is Scott Neil, a retired master sergeant now living in Tampa.

"The symposium represents a cross-sample of the special operations community around the world," said Bergen, who was recently named the foundation's board chairman. "It is hard to imagine a more expert audience. We are thrilled to be able to screen it here."

The symposium, being held near the MacDill Air Force Base home of SOCom, offers an important chance for international partners to discuss the future of special operations, Bergen said.

"I think clearly there is no demand signal from the American public to send large conventional armies to other countries right now," said Bergen, who covers national security issues. "I suspect that there will only be a matter of degrees of difference between the Trump and Obama administrations when it comes to what they are doing in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Bergen and Mabile will speak after the screening, which is available only to those attending the symposium.

Contact Howard Altman at or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.


  1. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer drops from a helicopter during a training exercise off Honeymoon Island State Park in 2012. Jim Damaske
    The bizarre threat and fakes calls for help are being transmitted over marine radio. It sounds like the same man, the Coast Guard said.
  2. MacDill Air Force Base will observe a full-day, "resilience tactical pause'' Friday to address a growing number of suicides in the Air Force. Airmen will participate in team-building activities and small-group discussions on mental health. This is happening at military bases across the U.S.  [Times files].
    An estimated 78 airmen nationwide have taken their lives this year, prompting leaders to boost prevention efforts
  3. Dr. Dominick Gulli and Tammy Alsing recently launched Cope Well Counseling Associates at 415 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon. ERIC VICIAN   | Special to the Times
    Dr. Dominick Gulli and Tammy Alsing recently opened their office at 415 Lithia Pinecrest Rd.
  4. Researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa participated in a newly released study that links post-traumatic stress disorder to ovarian cancer risk.
    A researcher from Moffitt Cancer Center participated in the study, which found that those with six or more symptoms of PTSD had double the risk of getting the disease.
  5. Capt. Joseph McGilley, commanding officer of Air Station Clearwater, center, gives an update on Wednesday about the air station's work in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas. He stands inside a hangar on the Air Station Clearwater property in front of a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the same type being used in search and rescue efforts in the Bahamas. [JOSH SOLOMON   |   Times] JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon, Tampa Bay Times
    Cargo planes, helicopters and people are all part of the effort.
  6. KC-135 Stratotankers will be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Case to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas ahead of Hurricane Dorian.  [Times]
    The aircraft are being sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as a precaution with high winds projected during the storm
  7. A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit 300 yards from the runway at Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield in this 2012 photo. The Pentagon later built a trash disposal plant at the busy military base but a number of crude burn pits, still spewing toxic fumes, remain in operation. [Mark Rankin] HOWARD ALTMAN  |  Mark Rankin
    A number of veterans have been locked out of VA medical care and disability benefits for illnesses that often are terminal.
  8. Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, right, speaks while Clinic Director Karen Blanchette, left, Michael Sullivan, a Cohen Veterans Network Board Member, center, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, look on during a ceremony Monday marking the opening of the Florida Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] "OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Times
    The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners will fill mental health service gaps for veterans and their family members.
  9. The Veterans Resurgence Program inside the Falkenburg Road Jail houses up to 60 veterans who can receive resources and counseling while serving time. Courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Sheriff Chad Chronister’s Veterans Resurgence Program offers resources, counseling to incarcerated vets
  10. Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater’s new commander, Capt. Joseph T. McGilley, left, watches as Clearwater Mayor George N. Cretekos reads a proclamation recognizing the U.S. Coast Guard’s contribution to the city at a recent  City Council meeting. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Jose Perez