The city of Huntsville, along with hundreds of military contractors, are gearing up for the largest convention the city will host all year.
The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) holds its annual Global Force Symposium and Exposition" at the Von Braun Center March 26-28, 2018.
This year, an announcement could come out of the meetings that would have a direct impact on all of the Tennessee Valley. Sam Torrey is president of the local Redstone chapter of AUSA. He said the three-day event, that starts Monday, is bringing top brass here to discuss the best way to move the US Army into the future.
"The key topic for this year's symposium is modernization. The purpose of the event is to share the latest information from the army, as well as industy's opportunity to engage with the army. It puts on a forum for the Army to have a professional meeting to talk about the latest and greatest modernization," he said.
And industry is involved in a big way. Military contractors from all over the country are coming to town, along with 6-thousand attendees. And they have money to spend. It's "all hands on deck" for the Huntsville Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It's 3.5 million (dollars) for the city and 300-thousand for local taxes," said Bureau sales manager Jo Seay. This is the fifth year of the symposium in the Rocket City, said Seay, "And we do a lot to keep it here and make sure that they're happy in Huntsville."
Organizers of this convention started planning it back in August. It's so big, every hotel room in the immediate Huntsville area is booked. Attendees are having to stay as far away as Athens, even southern Tennessee. At the back of the VBC the load-in has already begun. Hundreds of companies showing off the latest in military hardware and technology, many with local ties, which are important to the economies of Huntsville and north Alabama.
It's our area's deep military roots, and manufacturing and research base, that many feel could go a long way to attracting a new army command center to the area. No one is saying it out loud, but for the first time in the five-year history of Huntsville's involvement with this symposium, the Secretary of the Army himself will be here. That's leading to speculation of an announcement that Huntsville will be the new home of the Army Futures Command. This new command will oversee streamlining and R&D of new and better technology for modern soldiers.
Torrey won't come right out and say it, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing in Huntsville's favor. "Other than the fact that the Secretary of the Army is going to come here and the topic is modernization and there have been announcements since last October about the Army standing up a new modernization command. We don't know where that's going to be."
Of course, the six thousand attendees will also have plenty of opportunities to explore the Rocket City. Several meet-and-greets are planned for AUSA members, including a young professionals meeting at Campus 805, and the Rocket City Bash fundraiser at the US Space and Rocket Center.
WAAY 31 will be following the symposium next week and watching for the announcement of the Army's new Futures Command.