AUSA 2021 Annual Meeting and Exposition

Photo Credit: Rod Lamkey for AUSA

The Association of the U.S. Army “got back to business” with its in-person Annual Meeting and Exposition 2021, held at D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Oct. 11-13. AUSA is the top professional association for soldiers, family members and concerned civilians. Held every October, the event is one of the largest land warfare expositions and professional development forums in the world. Designed to deliver the Army’s key messages, the dynamic meeting was packed with educational programming, informative presentations, panel discussions on pertinent military and national security subjects and important AUSA business meetings. Presentations on the state of the Army and related defense subjects were given by the Secretary of the Army, the Army Chief of Staff and other senior Army and Department of Defense representatives.

Retired General Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army, praised AUSA by saying, “Despite the many challenges facing the Army and the country, the Association of the U.S. Army remains strong and focused on its mission of being a voice for soldiers and the service.” Brown, who became AUSA’s president and CEO on Oct. 1, said there has never been a time like the present. “These are challenging times for the Army — active, Guard and Reserve,” citing the onset of new cyber and space warfighting domains, the COVID-19 pandemic and current aggressive adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Transforming for the Future

The enterprise modernization of today’s Army was front and center as leadership encouraged pushing the boundaries in working with industry to deliver next-generation capabilities to soldiers.

One example of teamwork between the service and industry is how quickly the Army developed the Integrated Visual Augmentation System — a leap ahead in capability. IVAS, which leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal and soldier-borne sensors into a unified heads-up display, went from a rapid prototyping effort into production and rapid fielding. Without middle-tier acquisition authority, “something like IVAS would take 10, 15 years,” said Karen Saunders, senior official performing the duties of the assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology. “The ability to continually test a capability allows the Army to move more quickly in determining if something is or isn’t going to work,” she added.

Digital Transformation Plan

In further support of pushing the boundaries, it was announced that the Army is releasing a digital transformation plan to synchronize all its technology modernization efforts and better posture itself for multidomain operations, according to the service’s chief information officer. Technologies associated with the plan include cloud, data, cybersecurity and mission networks.

“This is a new way of doing business for the Army,” said Raj Iyer, CIO of the Army and 2021 Wash100 Award recipient. “What digital transformation is about is us operating better with industry, leveraging commercial technologies like we never have before. This is about changing culture and empowering our workforce to do things differently.”

Several of the Army’s cross-functional teams provided updates on their modernization efforts during Warriors Corner presentations. Topics included the critical ties between aviation modernization and the new modular open systems approach; the role of the Unified Network in enabling decision dominance; the asymmetric advantage provided by synthetic training; and advancements in next-generation combat vehicle development.

Unified Network Plan

Released a few days prior to the show, the Army’s Unified Network Plan is the critical enabler in establishing the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations capable force by 2028. The Unified Network enables Army formations, as part of the Joint Force, to function in highly contested and congested operational environments with the speed and global range to achieve decision dominance and maintain overmatch.

Exhibit Hall

More than 650 exhibitors were on-site to highlight the capabilities of Army organizations and showcase a wide range of industry products and services to key Army and DoD decision-makers. Occupying over 250,000 net square feet, the event provided an opportunity to discover new developments in defense technology and meet with colleagues from the worldwide defense community. The exhibitors covered the gamut of businesses from A (Accurate Energetic Systems) to Z (ZMicro). Service and product categories were just as diverse, ranging from ammunition and fuzes, antennas, masts and towers, and body armor to tactical gear, training and simulation, and unmanned aircraft systems.

Mark your calendar today for AUSA 2022 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Oct. 10-12, 2022.