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The Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX) is a special operations and homeland security event that is held every two years at the King Abdullah I airbase in Marka, Jordan. The specialized event is held under the patronage of King Abdullah II, the supervision of HRH Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein and is fully supported by the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF)
I’ve been to hundreds of depressing media trade shows, and SOFEX’s salespeople are no different from the rest, except that their wares are designed to destroy things and kill people. I witnessed representatives from almost every nation spending millions of dollars on heavy munitions; I was wondering if the transactions were padded by foreign aid from the US and other countries. I heard high-ranking soldiers say things like, “When I retire I’m going to be on the other side of the table—ha ha ha ha.” What this means is that it’s not uncommon for generals with government-controlled salaries around $100,000 a year to spend the twilight of their careers purchasing billions worth of munitions from arms companies who, in turn, offer these same senior officers state-side “consulting” gigs with multimillion-dollar salaries. It’s blatant payola, the whole thing so corrupt it borders on absurd. Absurdity, as it turned out, was a running theme of the conference.