Lead by Massachusetts Adjutant General, Major General L. Scott Rice and NGAMA Association President Lt Col Sean Halbrook, over 50 NGAMA members and their guest attended the 137th Annual NGAUS Conference in Nashville, TN on September 10-14, 2015. This was the largest NGAMA delegation in recent years to attend a NGAUS Conference.
Nashville, known as the “Music City” not only was popular for its entertainment and music but also for the messages delivered by the Military Senior Leaders. The Business Session began with an Opening Ceremony featuring the Charlie Daniels Band. The Conference ended with the States Dinner. A special performance of the Grand Ole Opry followed the States Dinner.
But more important than the music was the message delivered from the Conference Podium by the country’s military leaders. The Conference came at a crucial time for both the Army and Air National Guard. Sequestration, budget cuts and increasing threats around the world were central themes to the Conference. Scheduled speakers included Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff and half of the eight members of the National Commission of the Future of the Army. Also speaking was at a town hall session was Gen. Frank J. Gass, the National Guard Bureau Chief; Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, the new Army Guard director and Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, the Air Guard Director.
While tensions have been well documented with the Army, Gen Milley stated “I think the world on the National Guard”. He then spoke of why he felt that way and his efforts to improve that relationship. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said of the Air Guard, “Simply put, you put more bang in our bucks.” Several members of Congress who are members of the National Guard also participated on a panel.
There was nearly 4,700 attendees at the Opryland with over 300 businesses displaying their latest products and services in another large trade show in Nashville. Association business was also conducted at the Conference. Delegates elected new board members, amended bylaws, and passed nearly 90 resolutions. The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States announced it will move its offices into the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NGAMA members were particularly busy at the Conference. Besides staffing the various Committees, Caucuses and Task Forces, NGAMA also hosted the other New England State Associations in meetings concerning our NGAUS 2020 Conference. We are encouraging the other New England states to assist us in organizing a regional planning approach to Boston 2020. NGAMA also assisting in hosting the New England States Hospitality Suite, which was the most popular Conference Hospitality event.
Four NGAMA Company Grade Officers also attended the Conference on orders as participants in the Officer Professional Development. Every year some Company Grade Officers are chosen to attend the OPD. Again, the Nashville Conference was extremely popular with approximately 15 Company Grade/Warrant Officers applying to attend.
The 2016 NGAUS Conference will be held on September 9-12 in Baltimore, MD.