Military Embedded Systems

USSOCOM commander warns of 'decade of consequence' ahead


May 09, 2023

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Photo courtesy of USSOCOM

SOF WEEK -- TAMPA, Florida. A "decade of consequence" is on the horizon due to growing competition from countries like China and Russia, and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) must be ready to respond, said USSOCOM Commander Gen. Fenton in his keynote address at the SOF Week 2023 annual conference today.

Fenton warned that the world is at an inflection point, with the rules-based international order facing significant challenges. He compared the current geopolitical landscape to "waves of consequence" in nature, noting that "challengers [like] People's Republic of China, Russia, and others [are] gathering against our international system." Fenton emphasized that this is a "decade of consequence," as the U.S. and its partners work to maintain strategic advantage and address emerging threats.

Fenton praised the capabilities of special operations forces, stating that they are "more credible and capable than at any moment in our history." He said they are prepared to tackle challenges such as integrated deterrence, crisis response, and countering violent extremist organizations.

USSOCOM is "harnessing data like never before, using artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and data-driven technologies to give your special operations...a decisive advantage," Fenton said.

The United States also has "an unmatched network of partners, allies and friends," built on "generational relationships and built upon decades of trust," and this network sets the U.S. apart from competitors like China and Russia, he noted.

In order to maintain its strategic edge, Fenton described three priorities for USSOCOM. The first priority, which he called "people," involves attracting and retaining talented personnel such as software engineers, data stewards, and cyber experts. The second priority, “win,” is about providing "outsized strategic return" for the nation across integrated deterrence, crisis response, and countering violent extremist organization mission sets. Finally, the third priority, “transform,” is about leveraging cutting-edge technologies and working closely with industry partners to stay ahead of adversaries, he said.

Fenton concluded by emphasizing that this "decade of consequence" will require innovation, collaboration, and determination from special operations forces, industry, academia, and allied partners. He expressed confidence that the special operations community is up to the challenge, and urged attendees at the conference to work together to solve the tough problems they face.

For more SOF Week 2023 coverage, visit

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