Well I am done with the AUSA winter symposium and I must say I had a great time. Not only did I get to listen to a lot of our Army’s leadership discuss some of the issues and topics being planned, I also was able to talk with many vendors whom are creating great things for the Army and our country. Now granted not all of them make the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though they all think they do. I sat in and checked out many armored vehicles that were not practical on today’s battlefield, even though they would be cool as hell to drive in Manhattan traffic. Checking out all the weapon maker’s booths were great too as they had all their toys there and I could put my paws all over them and mess with them, hold them and rack them as much as I wanted to. But some of the really great vendor booths came from those working in electronics, especially robotics and unmanned vehicles. Where technology and innovative minds are taking this Army is truly amazing. There were many vendors who had soldier devices, which are the ones the soldiers would carry or wear. I slammed most of them for creating things too heavy. Some would say “but it is only 2 lbs?” and I would say well that is 1.8 lbs too much, because there are another 15 2 lb. Items that need to be carried too. That is what these folks need, to see the whole picture and understand that most of their products are part of a system to system concept and not just the only device that a soldier will carry.
Besides seeing and talking to the vendors I was also able to network and talk to many senior leaders and their staffs. For instance, I was walking by the coffee shop in the convention center and there was LTG Oates having a coffee all by himself. LTG Oates was the Commander of 10th Mountain Division when I was in Afghanistan. He flew over me once while I was on patrol. He also is a huge proponent of blogging and was the first Division Commander who started and blog and blogged regularly and asked for comments on his posts, to include his widely popular one on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. He is now the commander of Joint Improvised Explosive Device-Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), and is charged with a very, very important mission as the leader of that Organization. His work and that of his organization save lives every day and have a profound impact on the wars we are in, this country and our sons, daughters, husbands and wives. LTG Oates was very approachable and I enjoyed about 6-7 minutes with him talking about people we both know, our time in Afghanistan and blogging. In fact I extended an invitation to him to be on You Served Radio which he gladly accepted. I look forward to having LTG Oates on the show.
I spent a lot of time meeting with and talking to Public Affairs Offices while at AUSA. One that I spent a lot of time with was TRADOC, which is the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. They are fans of this blog and were asking me for ideas and tips on their newly created TRADOC blog. I am hoping they took some of my advice and are able to grow their command blog and make it popular. They also extended an awesome invitation to me that I will talk about more later once all the details are worked out. Lets just say Bouhammer is helping “break trail” for milbloggers when it comes to TRADOC. I am so excited to help them and am flattered that they asked me to. As a result of my talking with them and recognizing how much blogging means to TRADOC Commander, GEN Dempsey, they have agreed to help me get him as a guest on You Served Radio also. I hope to have LTG Oates and GEN Dempsey on the show in the next few months (as schedules allow).
Last but not least is the SWAG. There was a lot of it this year, even though some of the Army booths were not allowed to have it or give any out because of rules and regulations. There was the usual booths of pens, small bags, and key chains, but there were some new and innovative ones. There was the luggage tag that has a small sewing kit inside of it. I though that was sooo cool for people like me that travel a lot. Also, the ACU camouflaged tactical beer bottle holder with opener attached. The people that laminate your business cards and make them into luggage tags are my favorite as I always get some made there. However my most favorite SWAG was the retail priced $160 weapon camouflaged non-sticky tape for a long rifle. I can’t believe the guy gave me the kit and I even got it in new multi-cam. All my gun buddies are gonna be sooooo jealous.
The only thing I hope to see next time at the October main AUSA Conference is more social media interaction and free wireless for goodness sake. Getting connected at this conference was very tough.