NDIA PERSPECTIVE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
A Call to Get Involved in the Association
I am excited to assume leadership as the National Defense Industrial Association is poised for growth, both in size and influence. We intend to accelerate the excellent momentum created by the previous Board Chair, Sid Ashworth.
As part of the leadership team that spearheaded NDIA’s recent reorganization, we developed the vision for magnifying our association’s impact, prestige, presence and importance. Building upon Ashworth’s legacy, we will focus on energizing membership — corporate and individual — increasing member value and establishing communities of influence to posture the association for the next several years.
The 2017 National Security Strategy clearly defines the way ahead to protect the American people. Today I’m asking for all NDIA members to get involved as we work to ensure that industry delivers our warfighters the best.We have upon us a new era of great power competition as outlined in the strategy. Whereas the industry in 1980 provided for about two-thirds of defense innovation, this ratio is now reversed with commercial industry now providing two-thirds of innovation. The DoD and warfighters need us more than ever.
We are emerging from a period characterized by operations to deter and defeat transnational violent extremism. The new strategy states an emphasis to refocus on great power competition. NDIA’s mission requires us to adjust priorities to meet future defense and foreign policy challenges. That shift requires we tackle and outcompete adversaries to develop and operationalize emerging innovations and technologies. We cannot give up our technological edge. The nation needs military capacity with advanced capabilities developed by the defense industrial base and delivered at speeds not seen before.
Make no mistake, we cannot afford to lose this competition. NDIA’s new organizational structure, financial strength and leadership will allow us to be a major player in shaping the future of the defense establishment. Maximizing the association’s impact requires membership to commit to leading and growing local chapters, divisions and events. We will focus to ensure we have the right mindset and correct emphasis to address complex security issues.
These new challenges come in the areas of cyber, space, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, quantum computing, multi-domain warfare and more. Understanding the challenges associated with emerging technology requires broadening the base and ensuring we have expertise within membership. We have approximately 74,000 individual members and 1,670 corporate members. My goal is to greatly expand membership to previously untapped areas such as national universities, defense labs, Silicon Valley and other newly emerging tech companies.
While the revitalized membership team has had great initial success retaining and capturing new members, we need your help in identifying more of them and specifically need your connections to expand membership to academia and newly emerging defense companies.
We need your help to bring on young professionals by encouraging their participation at any level. By increasing diversity by age, gender and new areas of technology, we will be able to better identify emerging threats and trends.
Successful recruitment depends on clear value proposition. One key area in which NDIA provides significant value is thought leadership. President and CEO Hawk Carlisle and his team will continue to organize and highlight NDIA-led educational events that provide members a seat at the table with this administration, the Defense Department and Congress. We will continue to play a role in future regulations and policy.
"NDIA will grow member value through communities of influence."
NDIA is unique in that it not only represents the large defense corporations but also the medium-sized and smaller companies. We are already having a significant effect on defense policy, but we need your help getting the word out about our Policy Division and its recent successes. We are in the forefront of policy formulation on contractual policy, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, lowest price, technically acceptable policies and other areas. We have our award-winning magazine, National Defense, and the powerful platform it provides. We are a defense association that supports all the services, not just one.
Another area of significant value is NDIA’s meetings, conferences and events: I/ITSEC and SOFIC. Collaboration happens when stakeholders meet in ethical forums to raise issues and generate solutions. We are working to expand our reach beyond the impact of our two highly successful signature events. Last summer, the Women In Defense event was a top-grade success and will continue to grow. We always need your help and influence to encourage attendance.
Finally, NDIA will grow member value through communities of influence. NDIA will address key topics to streamline access to new information about legacy issues as well as emerging technology.
These communities of influence will make it easier for members to engage on topics aligned to their strategies, businesses and interests. Please share your feedback with the program development team so that we can sharpen our focus.
Again, I’m honored to lead NDIA and especially our 70-person staff of professionals who consistently deliver value to our members. Through knowledge sharing and relationship building, NDIA’s members will continue to deliver the best equipment and capabilities to American warfighters.
We need your engagement and support as we shape the policies and deliver influence, advice and support to protect America, promote prosperity and preserve peace through strength. With our leadership team led by Hawk Carlisle and our Vice Chair Arnold Punaro, I look forward to the next two years. They will be busy.
Richard D. McConn is chair of the NDIA board of directors.