The Army continues to plan for the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting pending a final decision from Secretary John McHugh on whether soldiers stationed outside the Washington, D.C.-area will be allowed to attend.
Most temporary-duty travel has been canceled or suspended since the government shut down Oct. 1, and a number of soldiers, including some who are scheduled to speak, have expressed to Army Times uncertainty and confusion about whether they will be able to travel to the meeting.
In early September, McHugh signed off on uniformed attendance at the conference. As many as 450 soldiers were initially authorized to travel to the conference, which will take place Oct. 21-23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C.
No TDY or travel plans have been canceled, Col. Gary Kolb, an Army spokesman, said Wednesday.
“We are continuing to plan for participating in this year’s AUSA annual meeting,” Kolb said. “We expect the [Secretary of the Army] to make a final decision on the level of participation very soon. Until we receive that ... the normal planning continues.”
He added that most of the soldiers participating in the annual meeting are already stationed in the D.C. area.
“The Army’s enthusiasm for the annual meeting is unabated,” said David Liddle, spokesman for AUSA. “It’s a dollars and cents issue, so what we’re doing is working very closely with them on things like live-streaming, so people who can’t be here can participate.”
Most of the sessions and panels during the annual meeting will be live-streamed on the AUSA website, the Army’s website and on DVIDS, the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, Liddle said.
This year, online viewers also will be able to ask questions of panelists and speakers via Twitter and the hash tag #AUSA2013, Liddle said.
The Army also has sent a memo to troops in the D.C. area letting them know it’s “totally, absolutely OK” to attend the annual meeting, Liddle said.
“It’s full-steam ahead,” Liddle said. “We’ve had no cancellations.”
Liddle said AUSA anticipates this year’s annual meeting will draw about 30,000 attendees, similar to the number from last year.
“We’re going to have this thing regardless,” Liddle said.