Kentucky hosts 139th NGAUS Conference

By Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Maj. Gen. Stephen Hogan introduces Governor Matt Bevin to speak during the opening ceremonies of the 139th National Guard Association Conference in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The conference welcomed more than 3000 guests from other states’ National Guard to the Kentucky Fairgrounds & Expo Center. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Nasir Stoner)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Guard Association of the United States officially began its 139th general conference, themed “America’s National Guard: The Indispensable Force,” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville Sept. 8, 2017.

For Col. Michael Stephens, the director of aviation for the Kentucky Army National Guard and the emcee for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the annual NGAUS conference, which lasted to Sept. 10, serves a great purpose for the National Guard as an organization, and those who work closely with the National Guard.

“It provides face to face collaboration to better develop systems and products for the military, and further serves the interest of the nation by providing the best military capability that we can, while maintaining economic stewardship for the taxpayer by National Guard leadership from all 54 states and territories coming together with industry partners,” said Stephens.

As the Executive Director of National Guard Association of Kentucky, Chief Warrant Officer (Retired) Jim Sims also explained the importance of hosting the conference in Kentucky.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to come see what Kentucky is all about; the leadership role of Kentucky, and the civilian side of those who support the Kentucky National Guard, how it affects the community and how the communities stand behind what we do. You can see that from the different sponsorships and the people that give donations,” said Sims.

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Echoed in the words of Stephens, the conference theme, “The Indispensable Force,” reinforces the importance of the National Guard and its key role relating to national security and maintaining a proper working relationship across all services and components of the United States military.

As part of this effort, the conference featured a myriad of speakers including; Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, United States Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson, Chief of National Guard Bureau Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L.Goldfein, and Commander of Army Central Command Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett.

The speakers spoke throughout the conference at business and officer professional development sessions, special addresses, Q & A’s, and award ceremonies which encompassed topics regarding operations at home and abroad, new military equipment, fiscal and day-to-day challenges, and future roles of the National Guard.

Aside from the speaker-oriented events, the conference encouraged participants to fellowship with each other by hosting several receptions, luncheons and mixers to allow Guardsmen to learn about and from each other.

These involved locations such as Churchill Downs, downtown Louisville, Louisville Expo Center and hospitality rooms at various event hotels.

“In comparison, each conference is unique in itself. Here in Kentucky we try to highlight very Kentucky things: Churchill Downs, bourbon, good people, and all the factors that make Kentucky what it is,” said Brig Gen. Benjamin F. Adams III, Chief of the Joint Staff. “We believe we put our best foot forward to show the thousands of people that came to Kentucky what makes Kentucky great.”

According to Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer, adjutant general of West Virginia and NGAUS Chairman, Kentucky did a superb job in hosting this year’s conference.

“I think it’s an exceptional example of the citizens of the commonwealth, the city of Louisville, and the Kentucky National Guard to be gracious and wonderful hosts for this event and make sure we had all the things we needed as well as great hospitality to build bonds and relationships with each other,” he said.

“We’ve been having this conference since 1878 to make sure that Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have the things that they and their families need, to be able to do what the citizens of this country expect of us.”

As Kentucky showed the rest of the country what it has to offer, NGAUS will now look to next year’s national conference in New Orleans, La. in 2018.

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