AFA’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference brings together Air Force, industry, academia, and more in the biggest, best Air Force professional development event of the year Sept. 16-18 in National Harbor, Md. The conference theme: Expanding the Competitive Edge.
“If you expand the competitive edge, then what you are doing is you’re looking beyond the horizon and .... visual range, in our parlance, and ... you’re helping industry think innovatively, creatively, and specifically to the future,” said AFA Executive Vice President and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg. “So the force we need, what the Air Force needs, we’re going to help everybody articulate that so that they can go back and help build the force of tomorrow.”
The all-star cast of speakers and back-to-back sessions touch on everything from space and innovation to Mosaic Warfare and military-family resilience. But since an agenda that comprehensive can be intimidating, here are five can’t-miss things to get you started:
1. Get Inspired by Richard Branson
The Virgin Group founder, billionaire businessman, and space entrepreneur kicks off the conference with a focus on thinking outside the box. “I can’t think of a better speaker than Sir Richard Branson to really set the tone and the culture for the Air, Space & Cyber Conference,” Raaberg said. Branson’s “overarching perspective on space and the future” provides a sense of where industry is going. Can’t get there? Watch the livestream on Sept. 16 at 9:10 a.m. EST.
2. Space Power
Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of both US Space Command and Air Force Space Command, takes the stage Tuesday for one of the hottest topics in defense today: “Space Power: Warfighting in Space to Win on Earth.” This one will also be livestreamed. Tune in Sept. 17 at 3:55 p.m. EST.
3. Perspective from the Top
Acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan addresses the “State of the Force” on Sept. 16 at 1:00 p.m. EST; Assistant Air Force Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Will Roper talks acquisition strategy at 1:55 p.m. EST; Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein addresses the conference Sept. 17 at 10:45 a.m., and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright talks leadership issues on Sept. 18 at 10:15 a.m. Watch all four on USAF’s livestream.
4. Q&A with SecDef
Defense Secretary Mark Esper delivers his first major address to an Air Force audience Sept. 18 at 8:30 a.m., where he will touch on top issues and then open up the mic for questions. Stand by for standing room only — or watch it here.
5. Hit the Floor
The ASC 2019 exhibit hall will be packed with vendors offering ideas and solutions, teeming with airmen fresh from real-world operations. “It is literally the airmen talking to their counterparts in industry, in academia, in Capitol Hill,” he says. “The exchange of ideas and thoughts far exceeds any kind of show that you could ever imagine attending.” Uniting creative and innovative minds makes the show an incubator where Air Force and industry can “really grapple with the needs” of the Air Force and plant the seeds that will grow “into actual acquisition opportunities that meet the warfighter needs and make the airmen the most lethal, capable fighting force for our nation.”