By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jennifer S. Kimball, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific
Top leaders from the military, government and industry gathered at the San Diego Convention Center Feb. 5-7, for the West 2008 conference, co-sponsored by The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.
The conference themed "U.S. at a Crossroads: Where to - and How - After Iraq?" featured discussions on pressing issues in the military services and how industry can help solve them.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace gave the opening remarks and spoke of protecting the Internet and the importance of military, government and industry to work together.
He also talked about the future of interagency cooperation, specifically the important role of individual augmentees from the Navy and Air Force, who are currently supplementing ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The interactive environment allowed the audience to ask questions through panel discussions about issues affecting today's military.
Cmdr. Michael Wayne Baze, executive officer, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45, plans to share what he learned with his junior officers.
"There are lots of new things being discussed about technologies and information warfare, which has an importance to me and some of my Sailors," said Baze. "I think processes like these are only going to make [the Navy] better."
The conference also offered a wide range of events, including: breakfast and luncheon speeches, panel discussions, career and financial seminars and networking opportunities.
"I didn't intend to do much networking at the conference, but once I arrived, I found that it was impossible to avoid," said Lt. Cmdr. Katharine Shobe, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. "The amount of discussion within Navy attendees was great, but even better was the amount of cross-service or joint discussions that took place."
Other speakers included Adm. James G. Stavridis, U.S. Southern Command; Adm. Timothy J. Keating, U.S. Pacific Command; and many other military leaders.
"I'm proud to be standing in front of you representing the over 325,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians who are doing the heavy lifting out in the Pacific," said Keating.
The conference is the largest on the West Coast for bringing together workers in communications, electronics, intelligence, information systems, imaging, military weapon systems, aviation and shipbuilding.
More than 350 businesses had booths that lined the floor in the exhibitor hall, giving the public a glimpse at some of the most advanced technology in the industry.