More than 16K participants set attendance record at 2022 SOFIC
TAMPA, FL – The 2022 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference came roaring back in person to Tampa, Florida, with a record-breaking 16,000-plus attendees from more than 100 countries during the May 16-19 event, said the National Defense Industrial Association of Arlington, Virginia.
The event featured 585 exhibitors -- the highest number of companies and organizations displaying their products and services at SOFIC – at the Tampa Convention Center and a new SOFIC Campus that encompassed several city blocks. Everything from high-tech vehicles, aircraft and gear to artificial intelligence, machine learning and big-data analytics and more was on display.
Industry members attend SOFIC to gather information about the latest equipment and mission needs of Special Operations Forces, and SOFIC in 2020 and 2021 had been virtual because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. While those events were successful in and of themselves, the record-setting numbers affirm the power of an in-person gathering, said officials of NDIA, which hosts SOFIC for U.S. Special Operations Command.
“We adapted as needed for the last two years but being live in Tampa is SOFIC at its best,” said Christine Klein, NDIA’s senior vice president of meetings, divisions and partnerships. “Hands-on products and demonstrations and sharing information via addresses and panel discussions brings information and business intelligence to attendees firsthand,” she said. “You could feel the enthusiasm in the air at the convention center. It’s exciting to see the partnership between USSOCOM and industry happening in real-time each year at SOFIC.”
Speakers from industry, Special Operations Command and key government offices gave their perspectives as well as challenges, trends and capability gaps facing the force now and in the future. SOFIC annually brings these people together with industry to meet the forces’ needs.
Also back live was the Capabilities Demonstration, a mock rescue event featuring approximately 75 Special Operations Forces from 11 countries in a display of what a coordinated operation would be like for them. With Tampa Bay as the setting, these highly skilled operators came up from the deep and fast-roped from helicopters onto a local ship turned pirate vessel for the event as they “rescued” John Bennett, chief of staff for the city of Tampa who played hostage for the event.
Media contact for NDIA: Evamarie Socha esocha@NDIA.org.