The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) kicked off its annual SOFIC Conference in Tampa on June 15, 2010. There were over 300 vendors exhibiting and exhibit staffers out numbered paying attendees to the parallel Small Business session on Tuesday morning.
Naturally the exhibits leaned heavily on lethality, protecting and transporting the force. Speakers were all focused on acquisition as the target audience was as much the vendors as it was the special operators who drifted in after lunch.
Exhibitors also included Special Forces from the United Arab Emirates as well as a contingent from the Dubai tourist bureau, but alas not one exhibit that dealt with PSYOP or even Civil Affairs.
Of course this was not a surprise to anyone – least of all me. The take away for me is that PSYOP lacks more than a single, unifying association, it lacks a business oriented association whose purpose is to support the PSYOP community by harnessing marketing dollars of the vendors that supply it.
PSYOP equipment and services are likely to account for a hefty business, but it is difficult to quantify it all. From a payroll perspective the Army alone as 3 PSYOP Groups with a total manning of 4,000 people. SOCOM PSYOP purchases are buried in the C4 (Command, Control, Communications & Computers) Program Office and must account for $100 million or more annually. The Army Special Operations (ASOC) budget for PSYOP equipment and services is likewise non-trivial, yet there is no trade association to catalyst the market or benefit from vendor dollars.
The closest thing to a trade event for PSYOP is Regimental Week, which heretofore has been the exclusive province of the 4th POG. The jungle drums are saying that the next PSYOP week will be in October 2010 at Fort Bragg. Hopefully the POGs, the JMISC are working together to insure an event that reflects and involves the entire community. Continued lack of community unity will result in PSYOP continuing to be the SOF step child.