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National Guard Magazine |
August 2023

Reno: A Conference Primer


The Biggest Little City in the World

Attendees can expect a very different city than they experienced in southern Nevada in 2021.

Reno and Las Vegas, the site of the 143rd General Conference & Exhibition, are renowned meeting destinations, with great facilities and no shortage of attractions. But this year’s host lacks the extravagances of Sin City, which isn’t a bad thing. In simple terms, it’s more chill, and that includes the weather, relatively speaking. Reno sits in the high desert at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Summer temperatures are more pleasant than Vegas, with average daily highs of 91 degrees in August. And it’s a dry heat; temps drop into the 50s at night. Altitude is another feature. It’s 4,500 feet above sea level, or just a few hundred feet below the elevation of Denver. In the thin dry air, golf balls go farther, and so do cocktails.

Digital Version


Modern, Spacious

Conference meetings and the industry exhibition will be held in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, which is just south of downtown Reno and only minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The facility has been around since 1965, but it bears little resemblance to the original. It’s a recently renovated, state-of-the-art facility with more than 600,000 square feet of single-level exhibition and meeting space. Additionally, inside temperatures are well below the August heat outside.


An Annual Tradition

There haven’t been 144 previous NGAUS conferences, but pretty close to it. The “144th” refers to the number of years since militia officers from across the nation established the association to provide a unified voice to petition Congress for more resources. They held their first formal conference the next year, but national meetings were sporadic early on, normally involving less than 100 senior officers. They grew larger and more regular after that, and there has been a NGAUS conference every year since 1943. The one anomaly was 2020, when the event was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.


A Local Force with Global Reach

The theme could work any year in the 21st Century, but it’s especially appropriate in 2023, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Guard’s State Partnership Program. The SPP has grown from the 13 new democracies that emerged in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union to the more than 86 partnerships in 100 countries in every corner of the world. This year, the Guard has participated in major operations or exercises in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Meanwhile, the force has responded to countless emergencies under the nation’s governors at home.


Featured speakers scheduled for the business and separate sessions

Frank Kendall
Secretary of the Air Force

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson
Chief of the National Guard Bureau

Gen. Randy A. George
Army Chief of Staff Nominee

U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly
Harry S. Truman Award Recipient

Guam Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero
Harry S. Truman Award Recipient

Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen
Director of the Army National Guard

Maj. Gen. Donn H. Hill
Security Force Assistance Command
U.S. Army

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh
Director of the Air National Guard


Legislative Resolutions

Representatives from every state, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia will gather to review standing resolutions, draft resolutions and late or “emergency” resolutions. Deliberations are set to begin Aug. 18 and continue through Aug. 19. Approved resolutions, which are subject to a floor vote by conference delegates Aug. 21, will form the basis of next year’s NGAUS legislative action plan for deliberations on fiscal 2024 defense legislation.

Company-Grade Officer Professional Development

The conference will once again provide OPD for company-grade officers. Formal sessions, which begin the morning of Aug. 19, will include talks by senior NGB generals; Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, the adjutant general of Nevada and NGAUS vice chair-Air; and evidence-based leadership experts from Indigo Ancho, a management consulting firm. CGO attendees will also make presentations.

Industry Exhibition

This year’s trade show will be another big one. More than 320 companies and organizations had purchased booths by mid-August. An updated list is available on the conference app. The show opens at 10 a.m. Aug. 19 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson briefly addressing the Guard’s role in the National Defense Strategy at 10:20 a.m. in the first presentation of the inaugural Minuteman Speaker Series. The traditional complimentary brunch begins at 11 a.m. Free lunch is also available on the exhibition floor Aug. 20. The NGAUS booth (No. 1636) again will be near the middle of the show floor. This is where you can speak with NGAUS staff and purchase the 2023 National Guard Educational Foundation holiday ornament.

Spouses Seminar

An addition to the program this year is a Spouses Seminar set for the morning of Aug. 20 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. It features presentations on family issues and resiliency. Speakers include Kelly Hokanson, the wife of the NGB chief, and Margo Berry, the wife of the adjutant general of Nevada.

Task Force Meetings

All 13 of the NGAUS task forces, which include subject matter experts in their military capacity related to Guard readiness, modernization and force structure. Meetings are open. Consult the official conference program or the conference app for exact times and locations.

Army & Air Separate Sessions

The separate sessions are set for the morning of Aug. 21. Both will feature presentations by senior leaders. Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, the director of the Army Guard, and Maj. Gen. Donn H. Hill, the commanding general of the Security Force Assistance Command from Fort Liberty, North Carolina, headline the Army breakout. The Air breakout features Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, the Air Guard director.


Delegates will vote for the three representatives (adjutant general, Army and Air) on the board for Area II and Area V, and the Air company-grade and the Army retired/separated reps. Final tallies are subject to ratification by the full conference Aug. 21.

Total Authorized Delegates*

Alabama 22
Alaska 11
Arizona 16
Arkansas 31
California 17
Colorado 16
Connecticut 16
Delaware 15
District of Columbia 14
Florida 18
Georgia 40
Guam 9
Hawaii 24
Idaho 15
Illinois 28
Indiana 29
Iowa 19
Kansas 29
Kentucky 21
Louisiana 32
Maine 8
Maryland 18
Massachusetts 31
Michigan 20
Minnesota 28
Mississippi 55
Missouri 16
Montana 10
Nebraska 18
Nevada 19
New Hampshire 13
New Jersey 19
New Mexico 14
New York 23
North Carolina 21
North Dakota 17
Ohio 32
Oklahoma 19
Oregon 16
Pennsylvania 18
Puerto Rico 10
Rhode Island 8
South Carolina 29
South Dakota 19
Tennessee 53
Texas 19
Utah 24
Vermont 15
Virginia 18
U.S. Virgin Islands 8
Washington 15
West Virginia 20
Wisconsin 33
Wyoming 8

TOTAL 1,116

* Based on total NGAUS members in a state/territory and other criteria in the association bylaws.