WASHINGTON — Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, will be the opening keynote speaker at the Defense News Conference on Sept. 5.

Other keynote speakers include Ellen Lord, under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson; and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Richardson will provide his perspective on what the Navy is doing in response to changes in U.S. defense strategy and a return to great power competition. David Larter, Defense News naval warfare reporter, will also moderate a discussion on the future of the fleet with the chairman of Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va.; and the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, Vice Adm. William Merz among the participants.

Senior leadership from the other services are also well represented at this year’s conference. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, military deputy for the office of the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff of operations; and Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army combined arms center-training will join Defense News executive editor Jill Aitoro to discuss the challenges of maintaining mission readiness in an era of evolving threats.

For insights on Army Futures Command, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Gen. John Murray, the recently appointed head of Futures Command, will speak on the new command’s modernization priorities and strategy.

The conference will feature seven interactive panels with these and other leaders from across the defense community. These panels include:

  • Mission Readiness: Adapting to the Evolving Threat: The services are rapidly modernizing and replacing old equipment. This panel will discuss how they are preparing forces to use these technologies against current and future threats.
  • Army Systems Modernization: Priorities for the Futures Command: As the Army pushes ahead with rearranging its modernization priorities, what tactical efforts and platforms will fall under Futures Command?
  • Multi-Domain Warfare: Defining Battlespace Operations: As modern technologies blur the boundaries between domains, effective communication and operation across services is becoming all the more important. This panel will explore the technological and operational requirements to enable multi-domain warfare. 
  • International Partnership: Defense Investments in the Era of Global Instability: The U.S. and its allies are increasing their defense investments in response to the contemporary threat environment. What are the defense spending goals, and how do they respond to global and domestic security concerns. 
  • Fleet 2030: The Vision of the Future Navy:  If 2017 was a year in crisis for the Navy and 2018 a year of recovery efforts, the next decade and beyond will shape a new path forward in system development and strategy. Hear from Navy leadership what needs to be done to right the proverbial ship. 
  • Military Innovation: Leveraging and Countering Future Tech: What is the Pentagon doing to adopt and defend against emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, directed energy and cyberwarfare? Defense leaders will chime in.
  • Autonomy and AI: Enabling Modern Warfare through Man and Machine:  Once only found in sci-fi, artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomy now stand as a central aspect to future warfighting capabilities and technologies. This panel will examine how services are adapting existing systems and investing in new technologies to enable smarter platforms and better situational awareness.  

More information on the agenda and how to register can be found here.

Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.

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