(Dec. 9, 2014) Defense industry leaders and National Guard officials braved wet, cold weather to reach NGAUS headquarters today for the association's 18th Annual Industry Day, where a member of congress touted the Guard as a key solution to our nation's budget woes.
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., called the Guard an "elixir" for the budget-driven problems facing today's military. He said that the Guard is "uniquely situated to shine and show its true value in the midst of this turmoil and frustration."
Womack was the keynote speaker for this year's event and followed remarks from Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Industry Day is an annual opportunity for business leaders to hear the latest on Guard issues directly from National Guard Bureau officials and NGAUS staff. Attendees learn strategies for engaging with the Guard and hear more about the association's largest annual event, the NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition.
Womack, a retired colonel with 30 years of service in the Arkansas National Guard, thanked industry partners in the room for the "invaluable perspective" they provide him as a member of Congress. He noted that the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, along with continued short-term budget bills, have created an unstable and challenging business environment.
"Your company suffers, your cost per unit goes up, and your highly skilled workers, like some of my defense workers in my district, have to relocate their families because they can't wait around on a hope or a promise," he said.
These problems will be fixed if Congress can "put its big-boy britches on" and get to work. And despite the hard times, he's confident that the "will and expertise of the people in this room" will lead to better times.
Womack's audience was one of the largest and most diverse in years, according to Kathleen Cyphert, the NGAUS industry liaison. Approximately 215 people registered for the event and attendees represented a wide range of companies across the defense industry.
"It's great to see so many people here this year," Cyphert said. "It's a good opportunity for different stakeholders to get together and have a robust conversation about how things will look over the next year."