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National Guard Magazine |
July 2021

VEGAS: A Conference Update

Las Vegas in August is hot, and not just the entertainment. The city is in the Mojave Desert, where late daytime summer temps can reach 100 degrees. Pack and act accordingly. The "Attire Guide" produced by the Nevada National Guard includes plenty of clothing suggestions.

And bring and carry a water bottle for trips in the daytime heat. You can fill it in your room and at fountains and restaurants to avoid expensive bottled water. The Southern Nevada Health District recommends one glass of water per hour.

Fortunately, the vast majority of conference events will be indoors in air conditioning. And temperatures dip considerably at night.


Most attendees traveling to the 143rd General Conference & Exhibition will reach Las Vegas through McCarran International Airport (reservation code: LAS), just outside the city. It handles most major U.S. and regional airlines and is a base for Allegiant Air, Frontier, Southwest and Spirit.

If you’ve signed up for ground transportation Aug. 26 or 27, look for signs or volunteers in gray polo shirts on the way to baggage claim. They will direct you to buses to the conference hotels, which are only a short ride away.

Cabs, commercial shuttles and ridesharing are options on the other days. A cab is probably the simplest, but it’s also the most expensive. Expect to pay about $25 with tip each way.

The two official conference hotels are the Luxor Resort and Casino and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Both are massive properties featuring bars, restaurants, shopping and gambling on the southern end of the famous Las Vegas Strip. They are across the street from each other but connected via an underground shopping mall.

For those driving, parking is free for attendees at both hotels.


All meetings, many social events and the industry exhibition will be at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the fifth largest convention center in the United States. The facility will be busy the last weekend of August with multiple conferences and trade shows. The largest is Cosmoprof North America, an exclusive business-to-business beauty industry trade show expected to draw 10,000 visitors a day Aug. 29–31.

Conference professional development sessions, which used to be known as the business sessions, begin at noon Aug. 28 with an opening ceremony featuring a Las Vegas-style review that includes singers and showgirls.

Confirmed speakers include Veterans Secretary Denis McDonough and four four-star generals: Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau; Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff; Gen. David W. Allvin, the Air Force vice chief of staff; and Gen. James H. Dickinson, the commander of U.S Space Command.

A preliminary agenda for the business sessions and the Army and Air separate sessions will be available at ngaus.org by Aug. 13.

A professional development program for company-grade and junior warrant officers is again part of the program. The agenda will feature presentations by senior NGB generals and leadership consultants.

There is also association business to conduct. No elections during last year’s virtual conference means most of the positions on the NGAUS board of directors will be up for vote. This includes chairman, vice chair-Army, vice chair-Air, secretary, treasurer, the three representatives (adjutant general, Army and Air) for Area II, Area III, Area V,  Area  VI, both company-grade reps, the Army retired/separated rep and the warrant officer rep.

Conference delegates will also consider resolutions that will be the foundation for next year’s legislative agenda and proposed changes to the NGAUS bylaws.

As usual, the uniform for most meetings and sessions is Class B’s (short sleeves, open collar).


Another large industry exhibition is on the agenda in Las Vegas. Approximately 300 companies or organizations will display their latest products and services, according to SPARGO, the association’s show manager. Some will be exhibiting for the first time at the NGAUS conference, which this year will be one of the first major military association trade shows since before the coronavirus pandemic.

The association booth (No. 757) again will be near the middle of the show floor. This is where you can speak with NGAUS staff and purchase the 2021 National Guard Educational Foundation holiday ornament.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony opens the exhibition at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28, followed by a complimentary brunch.


Social events this year will take advantage of all that Mandalay Bay has to offer.

Festivities get underway Aug. 27 with the Company-Grade/Warrant Officer Mixer at the Mandalay Beach, an 11-acre aquatic playground complete with wave pool, lazy river and multiple bars and food stations. The event is open to company-grade officers and warrant officers up to chief warrant officer 2.

Local conference organizers this year have also set up an event for senior warrant officers in the Nevada Hospitality Room. Chief warrant officer 3s to chief warrant officer 5s are invited to attend. And there is a Field Grade Officers Mixer at Mandalay Bay’s Rhythm and Riffs Lounge.

Meanwhile, the Adjutant General’s Reception (invitation only) takes place at the Skyfall Lounge, featuring a panoramic view of the city atop the Delano Las Vegas hotel on the Mandalay Bay property.

Another popular social event figures to be the Spouses Luncheon. It’s set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 29 at the House of Blues, an authentic Southern Delta juke joint amid the casino tables and bright lights of Mandalay Bay. A Carlos Santana impersonator will perform.

As always, the largest social event will be the Governor’s Reception on Aug. 28 in the exhibition hall. This is an opportunity to leisurely stroll the trade show floor. Plenty of food and drink will be available.

The conference concludes with the States Dinner on Aug. 30. The recommended dress is “Las Vegas casual.” Dress like you would if you were spending an evening on the Strip, which many figure to do after the event. Crush, a local classic-rock band will supply the post-dinner entertainment.

The latest conference information is available here.

You can also stay updated by downloading the NGAUS Conference App sponsored by Armed Forces Benefit Association. It’s now available at the App Store and Google Play.