The armed services are in the throes of a technological revolution as significant and challenging as the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, Col. John Cox, USA, told the chapter in January. Col. Cox is G-6/chief information officer for the U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), and he gave an overview of the command's responsibilities as a partner in homeland defense, civil support and security operations. But he also distilled many lessons learned during a 28-year career in the Signal Corps. Rapidity and responsiveness are two of the biggest things, said the colonel, whose command was stood up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He also mentioned the need for industry partners to develop scalable technology systems that can be quickly deployed and for a military culture that is open to innovation.
“I'd love for a fast-track to exist, like there is for veterans, to get more of our young folks into government service,” Col. Cox said, noting that the average age of information assurance (IA) workers is climbing. With that, he suggested, might come more entrepreneurial thinking about technical problem solving in the field. Pointing to three university student recipients of the chapter's $1,000 scholarships to the University of Texas-San Antonio, Col. Cox asked, “What if [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg had been Lt. Zuckerberg with that kind of energy and vision?" He urged the audience to continue efforts to open up a long-established bureaucratic environment that makes it difficult to develop or execute new concepts rapidly.
But as the U.S. Army North has found in its six-year history, which includes supporting federal agencies' disaster relief efforts after events like last year's Hurricane Sandy, standard processes are not always the most effective. “In a rapidly changing technological environment, I can't always plan to do what I did before,” Col. Cox said.
In other business, the chapter recognized three new corporate sponsors: The Centech Group Incorporated, SRA International and KGS. It also updated attendees on the growth of the annual Alamo ACE event from December 2012. Attendance at the event (previously known as the AFCEA Conference and Exposition) grew to 1,076—up 26 percent over 2011 figures. Vic Helbling, chapter vice president of scholarships and educational grants, awarded $1,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) grants to science teacher David Bolster of Harris Middle School and biology teacher Carol McGilvray of San Antonio Christian Schools. He also recognized UTSA students Craig David Ridel, Luke Weatherby and Alejandra Arambula, who each won $5,000 scholarships from the chapter in December for their pursuit of information assurance and information security degrees. Helbling challenged Alamo's military and industry members to help establish a pipeline of internships and job opportunities for San Antonio high school and university students seeking careers in STEM fields.