The Association of the United States Army – "Voice for the Army – Support for the Soldier" – is the Army’s professional organization.
AUSA offers specialized programs and exhibitions for soldiers of all ranks – active, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve – Department of the Army civilians, retirees, veterans, civilians, military academy and ROTC cadets, family members and the men and women who work in the defense industry.
The Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, held each October in Washington, is the Association’s premier event that focuses on and highlights strengthening the Army’s professional development.
With nearly 30,000 attendees, the 2012 Annual Meeting had more than 670 military and industry exhibits occupying three city blocks – covering the entire exhibit space at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Throughout the three-day Annual Meeting and Exposition, there were 11 contemporary military forums, four family forums, three noncommissioned officer forums and a series of special presentations.
The 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition with its theme: "America’s Army: Globally Responsive – Regionally Engaged," will be held Oct. 21 to 23 with, according to Association officials, "new and technologically dynamic exhibits, thought provoking contemporary military forums, military family forums with interesting topics and well-informed speakers, and special presentations and Army events."
Here is what some of the participants said about AUSA’s 2012 professional development forum.
Cadet Zach Stark
Virginia Military Institute
"I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, this is my first time coming to a conference of this stature. … I was really looking forward to, just in general, being able to network with some of the defense contractors and to be able to see a lot of the hardware, technology, personnel capabilities that the Army is going to field in the future.
"What I liked the most is the amount of capability that’s represented here, and the joint operations information, not just between different branches of the American military but foreign services as well.
"I’ve seen so many foreign officers here, and I’m really looking forward to being able to work with officers from different military backgrounds – to continue to have joint operations for national and global security.
"I’m definitely going to share my experiences in regards to being able to network with a lot of different individuals here, a lot of VMI alumni and different specialists in many different fields from the defense industry.
"It’s just an awesome experience."
Command Sgt. Maj. Damon Owens
U.S. Army Reserve
335th Signal Command (Theater)
"This is my first year at the [AUSA Annual Meeting], and the expectation was I’ve been to some [similar] conferences, and you see the vendors’ set-ups, and a lot of the time it’s just small set-ups.
"Having walked through the [the exhibit halls] and seeing the layout, I thought, Oh my goodness. It’s just a lot of equipment to look at, a lot of things that my soldiers use.
"A big surprise compared to what I expected.
"All the vendors I’ve spoken with, about the equipment that’s specific to my soldiers, have been real outgoing, helpful.
"There’s a lot here to put my hands on and I think that’s the biggest thing.
"A lot of times, we want to use the electronic media, and when we look at this equipment on the computer you can’t put your hands on it; you can’t feel it; you can’t see how the soldier is going to feel when he actually has to handle this equipment.
"I’ve made some contacts up here. The biggest thing I’m going to take back to my soldiers is: ‘Look, I’ve had the opportunity to get this equipment in my hands. I’ve got an easier way to get it in your hands, to get you what you need, both out on the battlefield and in the homeland defense arena.’"
Capt. Curt Fulmer
Fort Meade, Md.
"I was expecting and saw a lot of exhibitors, definitely looking at the future of the military.
"I got a packet beforehand from the AUSA team, describing the conference, and that enabled me to choose which seminars I would attend while I was here.
"I attended a leadership development conference that was outstanding; the forum was very informative about [new regulations] and the new FM process.
"I liked the wide variety of equipment that the exhibitors have available. Logistics is my passion, and there’s a lot of logistics support here.
"This was a great learning experience.
"I have a lot of materials, pamphlets, and other information to distribute and teach when I return to my unit, to ensure that the knowledge I’ve gained here doesn’t die with me, and continues on with my unit."
Lt. Col. Racheau Lipscomb
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff
Department of the Army
"I’ve saw some of the displays, some of the vendors, some of the weapon systems or defense systems with which we work in our office – requirements and such.
"I liked being able to talk with the vendors face-to-face, get answers to questions, especially technical questions that we have about the systems we’ll be responsible for, and also some things we don’t know about yet, stuff that may be coming up.
"You always see new technology out here.
"Everyone comes to shake hands, meet and greet, but I’ve learned things about the new systems that I’ve picked up for my portfolio.
"It’s going to make me more knowledgeable and better at handling requests that are coming from in theater."
Warrant Officer 4 Adam Wagner
12th Aviation Battalion
U.S. Army Military District of Washington
Fort Belvoir, Va.
"I’ve seen some of the upgrades, the companies’ newer technologies coming out.
"I’m an aviation guy, so the aircraft upgrades are really exciting for me.
"The ballistic armor, the spun fiber instead of the steel plates is really amazing; the weight reduction in that change.
"Probably the biggest thing I’ll take away is how far we’ve come in technology.
"Not just for aviation, but for the ground guys as well, all the new stuff that’s out there, how they’re making everything lighter and placing more focus on the warfighter, which, in turn, allows them to focus on their mission and improve execution.
"I’ll return and tell my unit that there are a lot of people out here working hard to make sure that our equipment is the best in the world.
"I didn’t know there were this many people who have so many different little pieces – everything from the helmet, to a pair of gloves, etc. – and all the testing, all the individuals and companies that go into making one piece of equipment."