Army Association Conference Gets Official Blessing

Last year, uniformed personnel got approval to attend the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting only days beforehand. But the group is optimistic about 2013 now that the OK has come earlier this time around.

There wasn’t any fanfare, but the U.S. Army has given the go-ahead for uniformed personnel to attend the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2013 annual meeting.

The approval for the Oct. 21-23 in Washington, DC, comes at a sensitive time concerning federal spending on conferences in general. But the AUSA meeting is seen as a key for development and collaboration between the public and private sector, according to the group’s president, retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan.

“AUSA and senior Army leaders, with budget challenges at top-of-mind, have crafted another world-class professional development experience that benefits our Army, our industry partners and the American people by keeping key audiences informed about how our Army is truly ‘globally responsive and regionally engaged,’” Sullivan said.

More details:

Why they got the green light: In his authorizing memo, Army Secretary John McHugh said the event is “one of the Army’s three key strategic communication and outreach platforms, and also serves as a professional development forum for the entire Army, including its civilians and family members.” McHugh’s approval for uniformed personnel to attend comes month before the conference—much earlier than in 2012, when he gave it just days before the meeting, according to Federal Times.

Down, but not out: While the AUSA meeting has seen a steep decline in military attendance in recent years, it has a better track record of federal employee presence than some other conferences in that the military actually had a presence at the 2012 event—though the Army cut its conference budget by 88 percent and shrunk its expo floor presence from 75 exhibits to just one. But the annual meeting has not been immune to the scrutiny that other similar conferences have received—particularly the 2010 AUSA meeting, which saw the Army spend $10.7 million.

It’s unclear whether this year’s AUSA event will be bigger than the 2012 version, but conference organizers are optimistic. Even with the cuts last year, 6,000 members of the military showed up—a number AUSA officials hope will stay steady or even increase.

With federal budget cuts, this year hasn’t been a picnic for defense-related conferences. McHugh suspended attendance at outside conferences for the last two months of 2012, and as a whole, military groups have felt the pinch.

The AUSA’s winter conference was hit hard by the cutbacks—it was nearly cancelled due to a severe drop in military attendance.

(photo by tedeytan/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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