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AFCEA Well-Positioned for a Dynamic Future

January 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

As AFCEA enters its 62nd year, I am pleased to report that the association has never had a stronger program of services nor been sounder financially. We have been listening to our stakeholders and are responding with a new set of offerings that will be important to every member.

Our education programs continue to grow. Scholarship awards will be at an unprecedented level this year. This year AFCEA will provide approximately $1.5 million in scholarships. We are continuing our scholarship alliances with the Medal of Honor Society and the Fisher Foundation. The chapters continue to work miracles to raise funds to support and expand the scholarships we can provide. In addition, we are supporting math and science teachers at the middle and high school levels with teaching tools and grants to improve their programs. This is critical as we encourage students early to pursue the technical specialties that are so needed in today’s society.

AFCEA’s professional development program is growing as well. It continues to provide courses unique to the needs of our members, adding topics specific to the Global War on Terrorism. We are partnering with universities and other training providers to bring the highest quality possible. While we will continue to offer the classroom education and training that has always been our strength, we are now adding online capability as well. Announcements will be made throughout the year as we add these new programs. This is critical as the military operations tempo has quickened and distributed training is essential.

AFCEA’s mission to provide a robust and ethical dialogue between government and industry never has been more important. Both the threat and the government’s direction to respond to it have changed dramatically. This change, coupled with rapid advances in technology, has caused requirements to emerge at an urgent pace. In such times of change, effective two-way communication between government and industry is key. This year we have added a new conference on counterintelligence; held the first U.S.-based TechNet North, focused on homeland security; evolved an East Coast counterpart to the West conference that has been so effective for many years; and committed to a new conference called TechNet South that will support the U.S. Southern Command and its complex mission in Central and South America.

In addition, we have replaced the TechNet International conference held in Washington, D.C., for so long with a new series of issue-focused forums. Known as Solutions, these forums will be held quarterly and are co-sponsored by the government to ensure the most critical issues are addressed each year.  This first year, we will address—in order—information sharing, identity management, information assurance and cyberspace. These two-day forums will feature the very best speakers and panels available from government and industry. They are designed to be interactive, promoting an intense two-way dialogue between government and all segments of industry.

We also have increased communication with NATO and the NATO C3 Agency. For many years AFCEA has provided support to these critical allied partners. We are going to ratchet up that support by leveraging the NATO and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) forums we have supported for some time. This is a critical time for NATO, and it has the same need for improved communication with industry as does the U.S. government. With the addition of 10 new nations to NATO, AFCEA has launched a number of new chapters in Europe. Our TechNet Europe conference has been held throughout Europe in recent years, and it will continue to reach out to all of Europe. This year’s conference is being held in Prague.

I have spent much of the past several months meeting with our senior government stakeholders to determine what additional services they see as priorities. In addition to the initiatives I have already mentioned, they have told me they want to see more emphasis on tailored professional development, specific issue-based forums, industry-developed white papers and focused opportunities to do comparative analysis of new technologies. We will be working with government and industry through this year to refine our understanding of these requirements to respond to this demand.

I want to close by discussing the incredibly robust chapter structure we enjoy and the regional vice presidents who support those chapters. Our 136 chapters and eight subchapters are the core of AFCEA and the primary interface to our nearly 32,000 members around the world. The remarkable feature about the chapters is that they are run entirely by volunteers whose only rewards are satisfaction in their accomplishments and dedication to the AFCEA mission. Two-thirds of the scholarships that AFCEA awards are funded and administered at the chapter level. More than two-thirds of the events that AFCEA manages are run at the chapter level, and all of the rest are supported from the chapter level. Without that support, these events could not take place. Community support and many services to members are provided at the chapter level. My personal thanks go to the many regional vice presidents, chapter officers and untiring volunteers who make all this possible. You are AFCEA.

AFCEA is prospering and growing and, therefore, providing better service because of all of you. I look forward to another great year working with every one of you.