Thanks for The First Year

January 2003
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

My first year as your AFCEA International president was a “super-deluxe” experience. Although I tend to spend only a small part of my time reflecting on the past, I now look back on this past year with the same positive feeling that I have when I look ahead to the future. My heartfelt thanks go to all of you who have taken the time to support AFCEA by providing me with the necessary education to lead our association. I hope to build on that education as I work with the Board of Directors, the regional vice presidents and the chapters to improve the service that we provide as AFCEANs.

It is important for us to recognize that the key word that describes our association is “service.” This includes service to our members and our sponsors as well as service to the freedom-loving, democratic nations around the world that have AFCEA members and chapters.

Often we spend a considerable amount of time focusing on how to create revenue to support the many AFCEA activities such as education and scholarship programs and generating an ethical environment for the exchange of ideas between government and industry. Sometimes we appear to make service a second thought to these activities.

Let us re-pledge to keep service as job one for our association. And, that emphasis on service applies to all three pillars of the association: education and scholarships; SIGNAL Magazine; and events.

The past year saw a different focus for AFCEA International. The AFCEA International staff focused inward as we sought to improve our work across a range of functions. This was necessary because of the many actions that needed to be taken to address key AFCEA issues. Many efforts that were put in place over the previous three years came together to AFCEA’s benefit, and we were able to take advantage of that foundational work to solidify the items. We made great progress.

Now, it is time to reap the fruits of those labors. In the coming year, we will transition from internal scrutiny to an external focus. AFCEA’s thrust will be outward in that it will continue improving service to its constituency—the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities, along with their international counterparts—as well as reaching further afield from its traditional base. This will be the association’s transformation milestone for 2003, and we already have begun efforts along those lines.

We recently expanded the scholarship program to the international community, and next year we will partner with Copernicus Corporation to provide Professional Development Center (PDC)-like courses to AFCEANs overseas. This extends both the association’s assistance and its influence beyond traditional boundaries.

A key activity in the United States this year will involve concentrating on the new Department of Homeland Security. We must determine how we can be of service to that new department in the same manner that we have been to the U.S. Defense Department. This month, the Colorado Springs SpaceComm 2003 conference sponsored by the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter will be a transitional event as it focuses on both space and the new Northern Command with its homeland defense mission. In February, our Homeland Security conference in Washington, D.C., will address many of the challenges and solutions facing the new department. Initiatives such as these will help lead us into the future as we seek better ways to support homeland security.

In May, just after TechNet International 2003, the AFCEA Hampton Roads and Tidewater chapters are hosting Transformation TechNet in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This event is targeted at the vital transformation and interoperability missions that are assigned to our forces in that area. This event also represents an ongoing approach by AFCEA. For the foreseeable future, we will continue our philosophy of regionalizing AFCEA activities where the greatest benefits can be gleaned. This thrust includes AFCEA International Headquarters supporting regional vice presidents and chapters in their efforts to strengthen regional events.

All of these events continue the long-established AFCEA tradition of service to its member communities. In addition to maintaining that tradition, we now are striving to extend it both in activities and in range.

AFCEA International was born of the victory over fascism in World War II. Even before the onset of the Cold War, military leaders and captains of industry recognized the worth of an organization that maintained lines of communication among government, the military and the high-technology commercial sector. More than four decades of confrontation with global communism demonstrated the wisdom of the association’s founding fathers.

Now, having vanquished two formidable enemies, we in the Free World face one of our most insidious threats of all in Osama bin Laden’s global terrorist network. Once again, AFCEA International is uniquely poised to provide a vital service in a time of need.

At AFCEA International Headquarters, we have fixed what was broken. Now, we are focusing on how to make AFCEA International the service association of which we will be so proud. It is not a task that we take lightly, nor is it one that will have only a small effect on the Free World. The role that we play with our partners in the defense of freedom is one to be envied, and we are honored to carry that responsibility.