The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) will host the annual Global Force Symposium and Exposition at the Von Braun Center on March 26-28 for the fifth consecutive year. The number of attendees and exhibits are expected to reach record numbers – potentially 6,000 participants.
It is, as Sam Torrey, president of the Redstone chapter of AUSA, says, a perfect confluence that brings the convention here.
“The convention itself — the professional sessions, the industry exhibits and the social functions – and the city make the pillars, with a robust hospitality industry behind it to make it happen,” he said.
That industry is being challenged come convention time. Flights into Huntsville are already booked and rooms sold out; the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau has a database for available lodging in surrounding communities.
The AUSA convention has an estimated $3.5 million economic impact for the area, according to the CVB’s Bob Rogers, with some $300,000 in tax revenue.
“Huntsville has wowed (AUSA), the whole community,” says Jo Seay of the CVB. “It’s a real coup to bring this here for five years in a row, and it shows it’s cost-effective to hold an event of this scale here.”
The Army’s ‘Future Command’ a Hot Topic in Huntsville
Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretary of the Army, will be the keynote speaker at the first morning’s session. He’ll be joined by three of the other top four U.S. Army leaders.
The Army announced last fall it would “streamline” some processes in what would be the largest makeover for the department in two decades. It would place “modernization-related functions under one command,” according to AUSA.
Details for the Army Futures Command are expected to be discussed at the AUSA meeting, as well as potential sites for the Command.
Home in Huntsville exhibits
To illustrate the city’s role in supporting the military, some 130 of the 600 exhibitors at the AUSA symposium will be tagged with “Home in Huntsville” stickers, meaning the company has a headquarters or a significant business presence in the area.
“Our community is such a central point, with Redstone, the Reserves, the National Guard, the science and technology piece, the industries that support space and missile defense, and the retiree community is huge as well,” Torey says. “We’re bringing in a convention that highlights the Army and draws all the components, from retirees to active duty to Reserves to civilians.”
The exhibition hall itself is open to the public, however, guests must register either in advance or on site.
Here are highlights of some of the events happening at the Global Force Symposium and Exposition, with its theme of “Modernizing and Equipping America’s Army for Today and Tomorrow.”
- Presentations and remarks by Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretary of the Army; Ryan D. McCarthy, Under Secretary of the Army; Gen. James C. McConville, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; Dr. Bruce Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army.
- AUSA Young Professionals Kickoff, Monday, 5 p.m. at Yellowhammer Brewery at Campus No. 805. A networking event for younger members of AUSA.
- Rocket City Bash, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Davidson Center. Food, drinks and music, serving as a fundraiser for the Redstone AUSA chapter. Tickets available through the registration process.
- A “Warriors to the Workforce” job fair on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., co-presented by Still Serving Veterans. It will include networking opportunities and workshops that will provide resources and information for veterans.
- An emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education focused on attendees involved in Junior ROTC and Senior ROTC programs.
- “Our Community Salutes” luncheon, Wednesday, 12:30, to honor ROTC participants and local students who have enlisted in the military on a delayed-entry basis. There are some 119 Junior ROTC units in Alabama high schools and 10 Senior ROTC units at state universities.
This article was updated on March 22, 2018