Show goes on at AUSA, despite budget pressure


ATK workers unpack a M230 cannon as they set up their booth at the AUSA Convention in Washington. (Jeffrey MacMillan/JEFFREY MACMILLAN FOR WASHINGTON POST)
October 21, 2012

The Association of the U.S. Army’s largest event annually will be a little smaller when the educational group takes over the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this week.

While more than 650 companies will be displaying their wares — from helicopters to trucks to high-tech gear — at the exposition and conference, the Army and at least one of its largest contractors will be slimming their presence.

The Army is limiting the number of paid attendees, and the number of exhibiting government entities will drop from nearly 100 to just 17, according to the AUSA.

Last year, about one-third of the 7,500 Army attendees traveled to the event on the Army’s dime, according to service spokesman Michael Brady.

This year, the service is cutting the attendees with paid travel to 400. Still, he said he expects plenty of locals to attend.

At the same time, the Arlington-based U.S. unit of BAE Systems is reducing its exhibit space by about one-quarter, said Herb Muktarian, the company’s vice president for marketing communications.

“Our presence this year ... really emphasizes affordable solutions that we offer to the Army to help them meet their needs,” he said.

Still, this year’s show is expected to include more than 330,000 square feet of exhibits and nine national pavilions, hosted by companies from Australia to Turkey, according to AUSA.

The event, which attracted more than 35,000 attendees last year, is typically a key sales opportunity for industry, which shows off and demonstrates technology new and old for Army officials who walk the convention floor.

Falls Church-based contracting giant General Dynamics isn’t curbing its participation, said spokesman Rob Doolittle.

All four of the company’s business units — which produce everything from tanks to radios to rugged computers — will have displays at the event. The contractor will have about 9,000 square feet of exhibit space and 30 representatives there.

“The Army is one of our biggest customers across the corporation, and the AUSA annual meeting and expo is the largest gathering of the largest professional association of Army personnel,” Doolittle said. “So it’s a very efficient way for us to show off our products.”

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, also backed AUSA as an “excellent venue for allowing us to exhibit new products ... as well as engag[e] our customers.”

David Liddle, an AUSA spokesman, said there is no attendance fee for those affiliated with the Army.

“If you can get on a metro, if you can get on a bike ... [the Army] highly encourage[s] it,” Liddle said. The event “lets the Army collectively look at where they are and collectively help to chart a path forward.”

2011

708

Exhibitors at AUSA: 96 from the government and 612 from industry.

2012

671

Exhibitors anticipated: 654 from industry and 17 from the government

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