Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will be among the keynote speakers at the inaugural 2017 Defense News conference Sept. 6, providing him with one of his first opportunities since he was confirmed by the Senate Aug. 1 to address a large audience of both military and industry leaders.

Spencer is scheduled to speak late morning, not long after a naval panel focusing on fleet capabilities. He will join top leadership from Capitol Hill and across the military services to help define the defense priorities of today, and requirements of tomorrow. 

Opening the conference will be Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Also representing the Hill will be Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, who will sit down for a fireside chat about program priorities. 

Other featured speakers include Adm. Charles Michel, vice commandant of the Coast Guard; Tom Mellon, executive director of the F-35 program; and Air Commodore Ralph Reefman, assistant chief of staff for Defense Planning at NATO Allied Command Transformation.

Also a highlight for the conference are five interactive panels with top leadership from across the Defense Department and national security community, covering important topics about the global defense community. These panels include:

  • ‘Space and missile defense: Mission-defined requirements,’ which will explore the various vulnerabilities of space infrastructures and the threats that missiles pose to these infrastructures. In addition, the panel will examine the current and progressing missile detection and early warning capabilities. 
  • ‘Naval: Global capabilities race,’ which  will look at fleet capabilities, evolution in design, and how sea warfare capabilities of our adversaries influence U.S. naval investments.
  • ‘NATO: Fostering global partnership amid geopolitical strife,’ which will explore the challenges in NATO capability development – ensuring NATO has the right capabilities in quality and quantity to fulfill its core tasks, while considering the domestic needs of member states.
  • ‘Unmanned: The evolving mission,’ which will dig into the missions of unmanned systems, how they’re being integrated into missions, and how intelligence gathered from unmanned can better influence military decision making.
  • ‘Innovation: Current and future tech evolution in defense,’ which will examine the tech programs that are just beginning to gain the Pentagon’s attention, as well as those that are proving their worth. Through the examination of these programs, the panel will consider what is promising for the defense world, and what programs may need more investment to be worthwhile. 

Among the expert panelists are Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant for combat development and integration at the U.S. Marine Corps; Lt. Gen Veralinn “Dash” Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at the U.S. Air Force; Brig Gen Mark Baird, director of space programs for the the Air Force‘s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition; Rear Adm. Jon Hill, deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency; Frank Kelley, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for unmanned systems; and Dr. Bradford Tousley, director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA.

For more information on the conference, panelists, or to register, go here.