What's hot at this year's AUSA annual meeting

A brand new Cyber Pavilion and the chance to hear from the new Army Chief of Staff are just some of the highlights of this year's Association of the United States Army annual meeting.

With up to 600 exhibitors spread across more than 300,000 square feet of space and numerous speakers and professional development sessions, there should be something for everyone at the conference, said retired Lt. Gen. Roger Thompson, AUSA’s vice president for membership and meetings.

"It's a large, multifaceted event that maximizes exposure to how America's Army is resourced and structured to accomplish the large variety of missions that American citizens expect them to accomplish," Thompson said. "The Army throws its all into making sure that all of its messages, its challenges, its opportunities and its concerns are laid out to those who come and pay attention, and that occurs both on the exhibit floor as well as in the professional development forums."

About 26,000 people are expected to attend this year's annual meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

For the "deeply interested" attendee, the annual meeting is "probably a three-day event," Thompson said.

"It is a tremendous opportunity for the visitor to really get to know America's Army," he said. "You go from medical to cyber to drones to infantry capabilities. It covers such a broad variety of what this Army's expected to do for America."

This year, AUSA is offering a brand new Cyber Pavilion on its exhibit floor and it has grown several other initiatives that have only been around for the last year or two.

"Every year we try to improve the annual meeting [so it's] relevant to the spectators who come," Thompson said.

Here's a closer look.

New Chief

Gen. Mark Milley was sworn in Aug. 14 as the Army chief of staff, succeeding Gen. Ray Odierno, who retired.

Gen. Mark Milley, currently in charge of Army Forces Command, arrives at his nomination hearing to be Army Chief of Staff before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.
Gen. Mark Milley, currently in charge of Army Forces Command, arrives at his nomination hearing to be Army Chief of Staff before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Army's new chief.

Photo Credit: Mike Morones/Staff

"This will be the chief's first annual meeting as the chief," Thompson said, so this is one of the first chances for attendees to hear his message.

"I would encourage those who want to understand how he views the Army to sign up for our Eisenhower lunch, which is his normal place to give a state of the Army briefing," Thompson said.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower luncheon is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Attendees must have a ticket or invitation.

New Cyber Pavilion

The pavilion (Hall E, Booth 8125) will be run by the Military Cyber Professionals Association — a "brand new organization," Thompson said.

There will be a mix of companies as well as government organizations offering displays and discussion, he said.

Small Business Pavilion

This is the third year AUSA has put a spotlight on small businesses. About 50 companies will be represented on the exhibit floor this year in Halls A and C.

"Small businesses have a lot to do with the success of the Army, and we are very, very keen in bringing in small businesses to exhibit on the exhibit floor," Thompson said.

Also taking place is a Small Business Seminar designed to connect industry with the way the Army does business, Thompson said.

Innovator's Corner

First featured last year, the Innovator's Corner features companies, think tanks, and the Army itself offering "new ideas, new technologies, new products, new services," Thompson said.

Located in Hall C, Booth 3725, several companies will demonstrate or give presentations on their offerings throughout the annual meeting. This year's Innovator's Corner focuses on several war-fighting capabilities outlined in the Army Operating Concept, including developing capable formations, delivering fires, developing agile and adaptive leaders, and conducting space and cyber electromagnetic operations and maintaining communications.

Among the items scheduled to be featured are a lightweight and man-packable 500-watt multifuel generator; a reusable insulated composite rigid wall shelter system; and an extended duration lethal miniature aerial munitions system. There also will be a presentation by the Army's Rapid Equipping Force.

"We're excited about the ideas that might emerge from that," Thompson said about the scheduled presentations.

Veterans Affairs and hiring event

This year, the VA will have a larger presence at the show, Thompson said.

The department will feature seven of its different sub-organizations in Hall A across from LEIDOS, to include the Veterans Benefits Administration, the Veterans Health Administration, the Veteran Employment Services Office, and the Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services.

The Veterans Hiring Event will take place nearby, in Hall A, booth 261.

About two dozen companies are expected to participate in the hiring event, and they will be on hand to conduct interviews, answer questions and take resumes, Thompson said. There also will be presentations on topics such as interviewing skills and building a resume.

Homeland Security Pavilion

The Department of Homeland Security also will have a larger presence at this year's AUSA. Their pavilion will be in Hall B between Rafael and SAAB.

Featured will be the department headquarters, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Army assembly areas

As the Army has consolidated its presence into one large exhibit on the floor, AUSA has developed two assembly areas for the service to connect with industry.

The Installations, Energy and Environment assembly area will be in Hall B, Booth 2325.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) assembly area will be in Hall E, Booth 7129.

The assembly area idea is not new, but it's evolving, Thompson said.

"The Army is making it every year a little easier for people and companies to come in and learn from the Army or to get feedback on the existing products and services or make suggestions," he said. "It's essentially two areas for professional discussions between industry and Army. The idea is to make a connection."

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