To find out what’s on the mind of the U.S. Army, more than 30,000 people – soldiers, civilians, defense contractors and defense industry media – attend the largest annual Army conference, AUSA. And with three jam-packed days filled with educational sessions, technology demonstrations and more than 700 exhibiting organizations, AUSA 2019 is no exception.
Retired Gen. Carter Ham, president of the Association of the U.S. Army, expected that attendance this year would top last year’s – an indicator of customer confidence in the future of the Army. Still, he voiced concern that politics could get in the way of passing the all-important 2020 budget. “An extension to the continuing resolution, any extension, is better than a shutdown, but any extension is worse than appropriation and authorization,” Ham said, referring to the two congressional processes required for regular order.
A new budget is especially important to advancing the Army’s ambitious modernization effort. Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, deputy chief of staff (G-8) in charge of building long-term budget plans, recently outlined 10 major programs that need funding to move from small-scale prototyping and experimentation into production, four of them in 2021 alone.
Beyond budgets, politics and modernization plans, AUSA 2019 is filled with knowledge, insight and showcases of big and small innovations designed to advance the Army agenda, including:
- Army’s new multi-domain unit. Designed to reshape how soldiers plan and operate on battlefields, the first-of-its-kind Information, Intelligence, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space Battalion pulls together nonlethal, information-based Army specialties to coordinate with lethal Army specialties such as missile defense.
- Army’s first esports team. Initiated in 2018, the 16-member team “has become the darling of Army recruiting as the service goes all-in on meeting the youths where they’re at: the digital space.”
- This is My Squad. In a drive to support the Army in combatting challenges such as suicide and sexual assault, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston called on the AUSA 2019 audience, many of them NCOs, to focus on an initiative he calls “This is My Squad.” From fitness and nutrition to mastering the fundamentals, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston wants to empower noncommissioned officers to take care of their soldiers and build cohesive teams.
For updates on these and other topics from AUSA 2019, visit “Latest from AUSA” at https://www.ausa.org/.