The 143rd edition of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) General Conference & Exhibition has changed its dates and location.
It will run from Aug. 27-30 in Las Vegas with most meetings and the industry exhibition held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, said John Goheen, NGAUS communications director.
Originally scheduled for early September in Charlotte, North Carolina, significant gathering restrictions in the state prompted NGAUS to relocate its event. It has now pivoted to America’s entertainment capital.
Goheen only expects a slight change in the number of vendors this year.
“Most of our exhibitors are industry partners. Not only do they want to reach the Guard audience, they enjoy their interactions with National Guardsmen,” he said. “Anybody who’s been to our conference can expect a same conference experience they had two years ago in Denver, three years ago in New Orleans.”
Goheen doesn’t anticipate the changes adversely impacting attendance either, saying the numbers should be similar to previous years, partly because the association did not host an in-person event in 2020.
“What we’re seeing is after a year of COVID, people are kind of eager to get out and about, to travel,” he said. “Our conferences have grown from … an opportunity to reset the legislative agenda for the next year to something of a family reunion with a trade show, social events … it’s a great networking opportunity.”
Much is on tap for the conference, and there won’t be a shortage of topics to discuss in the desert: The 20-year anniversary of 9/11, the expectation of flat defense budgets, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as well as the pandemic, western states wildfires, Gulf of Mexico storms and pervading civil disturbances.
“The Guard has had a historic year in terms of domestic missions,” he said. And, of course, it’s an opportunity to elect association officers and review and amend bylaws. But it isn’t all serious talk and business. A fun run, golf tournaments, and social activities will be part of the three-day conference.
The annual event — held every year since World War II — is more than sun, golf, frank discussion and bylaws. Four members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke about the National Guard at last year’s virtual conference, Goheen said.
“You benefit from hearing what decision-makers have to say about the National Guard and where the Guard is going,” Goheen said. “This is a great chance to come to get some professional development, to listen to defense leaders and see really a truly great American city, a truly unique American city.”
Visit www.ngaus.org/events/143rd-general-conference-exhibition for event updates and to learn more about NGAUS membership.