Military Budget Concerns Cut Into Meeting Attendance
Several military conferences are expecting fewer attendees, or are being cancelled outright, due to sequestration worries.
Although the Association of the United States Army intends to hold its annual winter tradeshow in February, uniformed presence at the meeting is expected to be much lower than in previous years.
Defense News reported that the Army will likely receive 100 travel waivers for uniformed personnel to attend the AUSA Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition—half of what it originally requested—because of budget pressures.
This news follows reports of reduced attendance at AUSA’s annual conference last October after the Army cut 88 percent of its conference budget. The service sent 5,000 fewer attendees to the meeting and reduced its exhibit booths from 75 to one.
AUSA is not the only military association to see a reduction in show attendance, or in some cases, to cancel an event.
The Association of Old Crows (AOC)—an electronic warfare and information operations trade group—cancelled its 43rd Annual Collaborative Electronic Warfare (EW) Symposium, scheduled for this week. Explaining the cancellation, AOC cited a recent Department of Defense memo telling armed services and defense agencies to reduce travel, training, and conference spending due to the possibility of sequestration, National Defense Magazine reported.
“Given the recent direction from the deputy secretary of defense dated 10 January 2013, it is not feasible to conduct an AOC-DoD conference at this time,” AOC President Robert Elder said in a statement. “The topic of EW collaboration is still of great importance, and we are exploring avenues to bring together our communities in a way that is not hindered by budgetary restraints which require extensive travel.”
Meeting cancellations and reduced attendance affect the ability of military associations to foster conversations between the government and industry professionals and find “the best ways to support our war fighters,” Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., president and CEO of the National Defense Industries Association, told National Defense Magazine, published by NDIA.
“If you can’t have events, then you can’t have that conversation,” Farrell said. These organizations are “trying to adjust to this as a new reality, but we are hopeful that we will get back to a normal kind of conference schedule at some point in the future.”