TechNet International 2001 Represents Quality in Numbers

May 2001
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

AFCEA International is fast approaching its keystone event, TechNet International. For many years, this show has been the primary forum for accomplishments from AFCEA’s field and a showcase of technology for its corporate associates. The entire AFCEA family looks forward to this event, as both active volunteers and geographically diverse members make plans to come to Washington, D.C. These activists, who include regional vice presidents, chapter officers and Young AFCEANs, participate in daylong business meetings and offer advice to the AFCEA headquarters staff.

From an industry standpoint, TechNet International represents an opportunity to showcase solutions to the interoperability puzzle to all the services in a joint setting. When planning TechNet International (TNI) each year, AFCEA queries government officials about their needs, and these responses effectively shape the program. Accordingly, the association has taken a three-pronged approach to designing the TechNet 2001 program.

The first facet, the conference’s featured speakers, continues to improve with each event. As with recent TNIs, this year’s speakers represent a level of rank that is progressively higher than for previous events. The Army, the sea services and the Air Force all are represented by high-ranking officers. The keynote luncheon features a joint perspective from Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. John M. Keane, USA, vice chief of staff of the Army, leads off the first day’s breakfast address. Adm. Robert J. Natter, commander in chief, Atlantic Fleet, represents the sea services at the second day’s breakfast. And, Gen. John P. Jumper, USAF, commander in chief of the Air Combat Command, provides an Air Force perspective during the third day’s breakfast.

Previous TNIs featured addresses by the communicators of each department. With the ensuing development of information technology, it has become clear that its scope is much larger than that of the top service communicators. This year’s format now includes both the operators and the users of information technology. However, this new emphasis does not imply declining importance of the service communicators. All of the service communicators will join Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg, Jr., USA, director of command, control, communications and computer systems, the Joint Staff, at the J-6 luncheon on the final conference day.

The J-6 will not be the only Joint Staff focus of this year’s event. Four featured panel discussions will be led by the J-1, the J-2, the J-3 and the J-4. Each moderator is selecting the members of his panel to focus on how information technology affects functionality. This approach permits AFCEA International to provide better professional service to the commands at large.

This also relates to the second facet of TechNet International, which is professional development. Once again, the exhibition will have the largest solutions showcase of any defense association. This year’s theme, "E-Solutions to the Interoperability Puzzle," aptly describes how the exhibit area will match requirements described by government decision makers. A list of 96 requirements was organized into eight major categories ranging from wireless connectivity to command and control for the mobile warrior, bandwidth solutions and collaborative tools.

For the first time, TNI includes a government-sponsored exhibit area. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will be holding its wireless conference on the convention floor during the show. This conference will feature a wireless backbone for mobile computing, which will add emphasis to the focus on government requirements.

Back at this year’s show is TechTalk Theater. Introduced at last year’s TechNet International, this element features technology experts addressing specific topics of interest throughout the show. TechTalk Theater, which is open to all attendees, serves to supplement the showcase solutions on display on the exhibit floor.

Once again, AFCEA Professional Development Center (PDC) minicourses will be offered free of charge to attendees. These minicourses are capsulated versions of the longer courses that compose the PDC course catalogue. This year’s slate includes four minicourses covering topics such as command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and how to keep up with the computer revolution.

The third TechNet International facet is entertainment. Providing a relaxed atmosphere allows conference participants to network with their peers in an unstructured, but productive, environment. Not all the play involves work, however. This year’s gala event features The Capitol Steps, a Washington-based comedy group of congressional aides who provide insightful satire of politics and society.

AFCEA International is committed to bringing value to its membership, and TechNet International 2001 is a perfect medium for highlighting that value. This is why thousands of attendees from more than two dozen countries converge on Washington to gather under the AFCEA banner every late spring. These numbers both are lured by the event’s quality and contribute to it through their participation.