I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to San Diego where I hang out with all my favorite defense contractors to learn all-things-Navy and all-things-SPAWAR (West). As usual, it was an extremely productive trip where I was able to bundle multiple meetings into a short time because EVERYONE I knew was there! Despite concerns about the travel restrictions that DoD faces, AFCEA was able to pull off a meaningful event full of informative sessions.
The theme this year was: “Pivot to the Pacific: What are the Practical and Global Implications?” However, despite this lofty and needed discussion, the schedule revolved almost completely around hand-wringing discussion on the budget, such as: “The Budget Clock is Ticking: What does it Mean”, and “The Fiscal Cliff: How do you make it Add Up?” One of the more memorable quotes of the conference was when the Honorable Robert O. Work, Undersecretary of the Navy, told the luncheon crowd that “Flat is the new UP.” Talk about an appetite suppressor!
The most notable change from years past was the near absence of DoD military and civil servants from anywhere BUT San Diego. Travel restrictions are at legendary heights. Being “grounded” had an impact on the San Diego DoD folks: they were very receptive to meetings and attended more socials than in years past. As we all are aware, without the cross-pollination that occurs at these types of National Conventions, ideas become stagnant and solutions become regional. We energize each other and we enable each other to have a global reach beyond our duty station.
This year we saw a greater emphasis on Continuing Education Units (CEU’s). AFCEA committed a lot of time and resources to make many of the events this year CEU eligible. By codifying the educational impact of attending these sessions, AFCEA has made it more accessible to DoD.
Although SPAWAR cancelled their booth at AFCEA (a first!), they did provide a continuous stream of SPAWAR speakers to educate the audience on current and future C5ISR opportunities. It was professional and informative.
Despite the fact that conferences are out of vogue right now, I was reassured that folks have found ways to continue to interact and take advantage of what is available to them. It’s clear that Navy will have a key role in attaining our Defense Strategy and keeping this talented work force connected through these types of events will continue to provide return on investment!
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