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Opportunities Abound in 2009

January 2009
By Kent R. Schneider

I want to take advantage of this new year’s Source Book edition to share with you some of the exciting things that are going on in AFCEA. 2008 was a good year—a year of firsts for AFCEA and its membership. We completed our first strategic plan, which created a five-year vision for the association. We created a Strategic Planning Committee to follow through on that plan. We increased focus and emphasis on some important and growing components of the membership: small business, young AFCEANs and international members. To support these diverse groups as well as those who are remote from AFCEA Headquarters and the Washington, D.C., area, we expanded online services and introduced new means of collaboration and service delivery. We started the Solutions series of events—a new concept for AFCEA that combines physical presence and online participation in a more interactive and ongoing dialogue. We formed a Homeland Security Committee to focus year-round on this critical component of our community.

2009 promises to be an exhilarating year as well. We are starting a Governance Committee to examine the relationships among headquarters, the regions and the chapters as well as our committee structures to enhance the way we lead this great association and to optimize services and support to the members. Cyberspace and cyberwarfare are key issues for government and all of us, so we are launching a new committee to address these areas and promote a dialogue within the community to define and advance further this critical domain. We are expanding support to the warfighters with increased focus on the combatant commands and NATO.

So let me expand on these initiatives and the direction we are taking.

Strategic Planning: The Strategic Planning Committee, co-chaired by Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.), former director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, and Lt. Gen. Pete Cuviello, USA (Ret.), former U.S. Army Chief Information Officer/ G-6, will continue refinement of the strategic plan developed last year and will begin development of an execution plan—a 500-day plan to bring us to a well-defined set of objectives, actions for execution and assignment of specific responsibilities. The Strategic Planning Committee will embrace a broad representation of the membership to ensure that all views are represented. We now have a path established in our five-year vision. It is important that we not falter in reaching that vision. The regions and chapters need to continue to develop their own plans, consistent with the strategic plan and the 500-day plan when it is available later this year.

Small Business: We have created a new management position to oversee small business initiatives and to be the dedicated interface between the AFCEA International staff and the Small Business Committee. Tammy Goehring has been appointed to this key position. The Small Business Committee is becoming more aggressive in pursuing new or better ways we can support our small business membership, which is growing at approximately 12 percent per year. We need to hone our support for this part of our community, and we need your help here. Small business itself, along with government and large business—which need small business partners, all have a stake in this important set of resources. Join the Small Business Committee or provide support to the committee and the staff in developing and enhancing small business programs. If you are at the regional or chapter level, work with your small business members to help them be successful.

Young AFCEANs: We all know that the young AFCEANs are the future leadership of our community and AFCEA. But young AFCEANs constitute too small a percentage of our membership. An important part of the dialogue we promote among government, industry and academia seems to be missing. The best way to bring new young members into the fold is through the current young AFCEANs, who make such great contributions. If each of your members who are young or young at heart would bring in one or two new young members, it would make a huge difference. We need the perspective that the young members bring, and they need to be engaged in the dialogue. Help us make this happen and give us ideas on additional programs useful to young AFCEANs.

International: We expanded international programs and exposure in 2008. We need to do more and will pursue that in 2009. Through partnerships with chapters and other organizations, we are bringing new events and services to our international members in 2009. We are working more closely with NATO. We are adding European country focus sections to SIGNAL Magazine starting in February, when we will feature Italy and its Rome and Naples chapters. Every three months, SIGNAL will feature another region and its chapter activities. We have added three chapters in the Gulf region in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. We welcome your ideas to enhance further international involvement.

Online Services: We are a global enterprise. We need robust online services, leveraging Web 2.0 technologies, to fully support all of our members. In 2008, we added social networking, Second Life, wikis and expanded blogs. We have done more webinars and podcasts. We are offering more online training. Ask how you can participate in these activities if you are not already. Tell us what additional services you need. We will do everything we can to respond to your requirements.

Solutions Series: Solutions was successful in 2008, and support and attendance have continued to grow. Thanks for the great work by the Technology Committee, chaired by Mimi Browning, and for the leadership by Dr. Al Mink, SRA, who stood up to lead the volunteers supporting Solutions. Many people put in a lot of effort to make 2008 successful. So, we asked for a lot of input on topics for 2009. You responded, and we will be offering three Solutions events this year. In March, we will feature inter-agency and coalition information sharing, the most frequently mentioned topic in the feedback we received. In July, we will address C4I/IT acquisition, focusing on both process and content. In December, we will repeat the cybersolutions event by popular demand. Many said this area needs more attention, and we will respond. I encourage all to attend or participate online this year. The AFCEA Web site will give you all the information you need. Don’t be left out.

Homeland Security Committee: This new committee, co-chaired by Jim Flyzik, former Treasury chief information officer, and Marlin Forbes, vice president at Verizon, will provide needed focus on the homeland security community. The committee is charged with developing a comprehensive homeland security program for the association. This is an area where everyone can participate. If this is your interest, please contact the staff or the committee and see how you can get involved.

Governance Committee: The Governance Committee, co-chaired by Al Grasso, chief executive officer of the MITRE Corporation, and Scott Suhy, founder of Point About, will work closely with the Strategic Planning Committee to refine the relationships among the headquarters, the regions and the chapters and improve the way we lead the association. This is critical if we are to achieve our vision at every level of the organization. Similarly, they will look at the various committees and see how we can make better use of them. In a related initiative, the Strategic Development Committee will examine services being provided to the chapters and membership globally and will make recommendations for expanded or improved services. We need wide participation in these efforts, so please contribute.

Cyber Committee: The new Cyber Committee is just standing up under the chairmanship of Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose, USAF (Ret.), former deputy to the Director of National Intelligence and chief information officer of the intelligence community. A call is out for nominations for this important new committee. Please respond; there is no area in government and our community needing and receiving more attention. It is vital that AFCEA plays a leadership role in helping the global security community advance this critical domain.

Support to the Warfighter: Nothing we do is more important than supporting those who are in harm’s way. In October, we held the first event in support of the U.S. Southern Command in its critical mission, and we will repeat that event in 2009. In April, we will conduct the first U.S. Strategic Command event, and it will be focused on its cybermission. This fiscal year, we also have engaged with the new U.S. Africa Command and expanded our work with NATO. As I mentioned earlier, we also have started three chapters in the Gulf region. These, and the other combatant commands with which we have long-standing relationships, are the organizations that need our support. Participate in these events. Volunteer to support. Give us ideas on other areas where we should be engaged.

A lot is going on in AFCEA. Thanks to all of you who are engaged and contributing to these initiatives. There are many opportunities for those not yet engaged. If you are one of those, please get in the game. It is your association.