Upcoming Conferences and Events

Defense Forum Washington 2014

Defense Forum Washington will take place December 4, 2014 at the Newseum - Knight Conference Center in Washington, DC.

The Knight Conference Center at the Newseum is conveniently located between the U.S. Capitol and the White House on historic Pennsylvania Ave. and just one block from the National Mall.

Physical Address
555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20001

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Welcoming Remarks

Vice Adm. Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute, opened Defense Forum Washington 2014, “What Does the Nation Need from its Sea Services?” with a welcome to the attendees, guests, and sponsors. He opened his remarks by observing that the military services of the U.S. are behind on readiness.

For example, while three years ago the Navy could muster five carrier strike groups, this year it can only muster three, and next year the projections are that it will be a struggle to muster two.

Daly said there is a growing consensus the military is losing its technological edge and needs to invest in research and development. As a result, it is important to ask whether the Department of Defense’s 2012 strategic guidance is still an accurate assessment. Daly argued that the sea service leaders are losing the battle in countermanding the negative effects of sequestration funding restrictions of the 2011 Budget Control Act, and there are growing signs that the services are hemorrhaging talent.

He encouraged the speakers and audience to stop looking backwards at the declines of past several years, and instead to look ahead to identify what the nation needs from its sea services.

Sea Service Briefing

The first session of Defense Forum Washington 2014 was a panel session moderated by Capt. Peter M. Swartz, USN (Ret.), the Principal Research Scientist, Strategic Studies at CNA Corporation and author of the U.S. Navy’s Capstone Strategy series. He opened the panel by asking each of the speakers to summarize the value that their service provides to the nation.

Vice Adm. Charles D. Michel, Deputy Commandant for Operations for the U.S. Coast Guard, explained that his service has several unique attributes. First and foremost, it is a military service, with ships and personnel engaged in the Arabian Gulf, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Coast Guard is the only military service that has a law enforcement capability, and as arguably the world’s foremost experts on search and rescue, it fulfills a humanitarian mission. The Coast Guard is also a regulatory agency, managing commercial shipping and ports, and overseeing material import and export via the sea-lanes. Finally, the Coast Guard is a member of the intelligence community.

Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, the Navy’s Acting Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, explained that the nation needs a Navy that is forward (able to deploy resources where it matters, when it matters), engaged (able to support its international partners), and ready (able to provide a deterrence capability and to fight when required). Forward-operating capability gives the President credible combat power and options to back strategic decisions; this credible power, for example, was crucial for persuading Syria to turn over its chemical weapons.

Donegan said the Navy needs to be engaged with partners and allies to provide security, and that a lack of forward projection can sow mistrust. As demonstrated by the Navy’s humanitarian mission in the Asia Pacific theater, such engagement sends a clear message to its allies and partners – as well as to potential adversaries – that the United States can be counted on.

It is essential for the Navy to identify areas where cooperation can be developed in order to stabilize disputes such as sovereignty claims and maritime disputes. Multinational military exercises such as Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) and International Mine Counter-Measures Exercise (ICMX) provide opportunities for interoperability and cooperation.

The Navy also has to be ready with capabilities that are suitable to meeting threats, and is currently working on plans for optimized fleet deployment and training. It is also in the process of developing modular capabilities that allow the fleet to “plug and play” weapons payloads and other systems as new technologies are developed and deployed.

Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Shrader, USMC, Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command, explained that the Marine Corps is in the process of rolling out a vision, titled Expeditionary Force 21, that adresses and summarizes the value of the Marine Corps to the nation, and offers a path for the next decade. EF21, explained Shrader, doesn’t propose to change what Marines do, but rather to change the way they do it. Its purpose is to improve the way the service meets the requirements of its geographic combat commanders.

While maintaining the principles of operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS) and ship-to-objective maneuver (STOM) as valid, EF21 allows the Marine Corps to extend its operational reach from farther out to sea via a variety of vertical and surface connectors, which will provide increased survivability from shore-based enemy assets and allow its forces to gain positional advantage in theater. In addition, the combination of amphibious ships and deep-water combatants allows for greater depth.

The operational concept of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) provides for rapid deployment of forces forward, Shrader said. A task-organized MEB is capable of responding to contingencies within 12–24 hours, is scalable via composite forces, and provides regionally oriented capabilities.

Shrader explained that the Marines’ ground tactical vehicle portfolio is also being revisited, with an eye toward modernization. The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), he said, remains the service’s biggest procurement requirement, and new vehicles are beginning to come on line.

“EF21 challenges the entire MC enterprise to think about how we form, train, equip, organize and deploy naval forces,” he said.

In conjunction with the Marine Corps Service Campaign Plan, they have derived new planning guides to address the capability gaps and enhance their amphibious capabilities. In summarizing the purpose and essence of EF21, Shrader quoted Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., who emphasized the Marine Corps’ continued focus on its role as the nation’s crisis response force as “the right force at the right place at the right time.”

Swartz asked the panelists to identify the most important changes and challenges facing their services today, and the influences affecting them.

Shrader responded by explaining that the biggest challenges facing the Marine Corps is, as explained by Dunford, the balance between readiness and modernization. For example, he said, several platforms have reached the end of their service life cycles, and so the Corps is trying to innovate solutions that will keep those platforms working. Shrader believes that the Corps’ modernization efforts need to focus on its amphibious assets, which is currently underway, and will eventually be supplemented with a new vehicle that will allow self-deployment. The greatest challenge to accomplishing modernization, Shrader explained, is budget constrictions.

Michel agreed with Shrader’s assessment that the greatest challenge currently facing the Coast Guard is the balance between readiness and modernization. The Coast Guard’s cutters are between 30 and 50 years old, and many are nearing their 60-year life expectancies. In addition, the budget uncertainties present serious planning challenges for the service’s polar icebreaking fleet.

Furthermore, explained Michel, the management of technology is going to be a challenge. "As we get better, our adversaries get better,” he said, “and we need to be prepared for that.”

Other issues of concern include the threat of sophisticated transnational adversaries that have become powerful enough to challenge nation-states, and energy issues. As the United States becomes the world’s largest energy producer and may soon become an energy exporter, it will certainly face stability and vulnerability issues.

Vulnerability to cyber warfare is another issue that the service is trying to address. Despite growing challenges in the Polar Regions as a result of climate change, the Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet is terribly undercapitalized, especially when compared to the Russian fleet. And lastly, as a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the service’s military role is changing and growing rapidly.
“In a world of extreme dynamic change, we try to be as nimble as we can be,” explained Michel. “We want to get ahead of the change factors.”

Donegan summarized the crucial changes that have occurred since the development of the 2007 tri-service maritime strategy. Key among them, he said, were Congressional budget constraints and the sequestration, the tensions resulting from the changing balance of power in the Asia Pacific region, and the proliferation of air-denial capabilities in the hands of transnational criminal and terrorist organizations, particularly as those organizations align with one another.

In the face of budget constraints, Donegan pointed out that our allies and partners are concerned that a strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific region might mean that the United States is drawing down its presence in other regions. He also agreed with the other panelists that cyber warfare is a crucial concern, as the capabilities of the nation’s adversaries are significant and the military needs to be ready to deal with them.

For his last question before opening the floor to questions, Swartz asked the panelists if they could share anything about the revised sea strategy that is currently being developed for publication soon. Donegan opened the discussion by reviewing the thinking and decision processes that were used to develop the strategy.

First and foremost, all three sea services were in agreement that they should develop a joint strategy. Questions addressed included whether to propose matching capabilities to specific regions, or to propose a high-end capability that fits all options. The planners also discussed how best to refer to partnerships with the armed services of other nations, whether to articulate the specifics of force structures, and the characterization of the threats facing the nation.

In terms of priorities, the revised strategy will emphasize forward presence, partnerships, and enduring missions. But discussion is continuing as to whether it should also address emerging priorities, for example new technologies and cyber warfare. The calculus of the decision process is complex.

“Innovation isn’t all about the things you buy,” Donegan said.
“It’s about how you train and roll out resources.”

Shrader explained that the strategic considerations of the Marine Corps are determined by its role as a crisis response force that is forward deployed, and always ready. As noted in response to an earlier question, the new strategy will not affect what the Marine Corps does, but it will affect the way that the service does those things. The revised sea strategy will identify changes in the way MEBs are geographically oriented and deployed forward.

Michel concurred with his fellow panelists on the decision to stay with a joint strategy, saying that the services were synergistic. He pointed out that demand is outstripping capabilities, and the strategic plan makes value judgments in order to buy down risk in various ways; for example, the ability to leverage the resources of partners and allies, and the need for assets that are flexible, adaptable, and interoperable.

Rep. Randy Forbes

Following lunch, Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittees on Seapower and Projection Forces, opened his presentation by proposing that the forum is asking the wrong question.

Rather than asking what the nation needs from its sea services, he argued, the question should rather, “what do the sea services need from the nation? I believe that we are either in, or dangerously close to, a crisis in national defense,” Forbes said.

The budget is driving the strategy, instead of the other way around. The issues should be framed and presented in ways that reflect that, he suggested.

“If the debate is about whether to buy a missile or a highway or a park, we as a nation will lose,” he said. On the other hand, if the debate is about whether the United States wants to control access to the nine choke points around the world, we will win.

The debate should be about issues such as sovereignty and whether we want to allow our fighting men and women to go into combat with inferior weapons.

Forbes discussed how, during the Vietnam War, the United States lost thousands of soldiers and aircraft because the military forces could not achieve air dominance. In contrast, during the Gulf War losses of personnel and aircraft were drastically less because the military was able to secure air dominance over the battlefield.

This was because the armed forces had the stealth fighter, guided munitions, and joint operations capabilities — all of which, he pointed out, were things that the services had initially resisted but were supported by Congress.

Today, in contrast, the military faces a situation akin to that in 1968. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander of U.S. European Command, has testified that the U.S. may not be able to secure air dominance in a war, and that the Air Force  has the smallest and oldest cadre of flyers in its history.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has testified that he’s not sure he can win a single conflict with the forces he has. U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III has likewise said that if the United States Navy falls below 260 ships, it will cease to be a world navy and will become a regional navy.

Meanwhile, the Russians are conducting air patrols the Gulf of Mexico with impunity. Other issues of concern include threats to satellites and the imbalance of North Korean forces in the face of the clearing of mines from the Demilitarized Zone.

Forbes noted that two-thirds of all sea traffic now passes through the Asia Pacific region, along with most financial transactions that are distributed by undersea cable in the Pacific.

He noted that while the picture may be dire, it’s not new. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for example, developed a strategy to contain the Soviet Union by bypassing the Pentagon; he believes that something similar should be done today, and that it represents an opportunity for Congress to take leadership and solve the problem. He is optimistic that the budget sequestration will go away, and he believes that new budget strategies can be developed.

By asking the American people and policy makers to consider what kind of defense does the nation need and then listening to the responses, Congress and the military will be able to act on that information to develop a sound strategy.

In closing, Forbes said, “The most important question is not whether we will succeed, but whether we will try.” He is optimistic that the incoming Congress will create the strategies and implementations that will allow the sea services to navigate their way out of this national defense crisis, and if they are successful, the American people will follow.

Ronald O’Rourke

Ronald O’Rourke, Naval Affairs Specialist at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), focused his talk on the issues and options related to strategy and resources. He argued that the nation is in the midst of a shift in strategic eras, from the post-cold-war “unipolar moment” to an era that is characterized by renewed challenges to international order. The last time this kind of shift occurred, he noted, it led to a broad reassessment of strategic concepts that led eventually to the quadrennial defense review. He argued that it might now be an opportune time to have a similar debate over the future of national defense. In order to do so, however, policy makers will need to reacquaint themselves with grand strategies that apply to the sea services.

Grand strategy is something that the nation has not had to do for over 70 years; in the past it was possible to simply point at the Soviet Union, and likewise following the Cold War there was little need to consider a strategy in which there were no real adversaries. As the nation faces new adversaries, however, it may be time once again to have such a discussion.

O’Rourke observed that the planet is two-thirds water, and the vast majority is extraterritorial, a “global commons.” Naval power gives the U.S. the ability to convert that commons into a theater of global operations.

Because naval power is hugely asymmetrical in favor of the United States, however, it’s very easy to take this fact for granted. O’Rourke explained that this fact isn’t an argument for the specialness of naval forces, but rather a consequence of world geography. Furthermore, he noted, it’s not the sea services that have a naval strategy; rather it is the nation that does, and the sea services implement it. Therefore, one possible answer to the question of what the nation wants from its sea services might be that the United States may want to use the sea commons to the nation’s advantage.

Another possible answer to the question is to continue to operate in the Asian Pacific region for the same reasons as it has traditionally done so. O’Rourke pointed out that fifty percent of the world’s people live in the Asian theater, and that most of the world’s economic activity is taking place in Eurasia.

The U.S. strategy, until now, has been to prevent the rise of threatening hegemonies, and many of our operations in the region can be traced back to that concept. However, this means that we’ve established our forces in ways that are significantly different from those of other countries. The U.S. Air Force and Navy are both designed with long-range capabilities to accomplish that end. So if the decision is to continue with that strategy, we will need to make sure that our forces can operate in the Asian theater to continue the anti-hegemony mission.

A third possible answer to the question would be to have a navy that continues its missions of defending U.S. interests around the world, many of which are done frequently or regularly using forward deployed forces.

The challenge in being able to accomplish one or more of those three missions, said O’Rourke, is to ensure that the sea services have the capacity to maintain the forces, the capability to carry out the missions, and the resources to support both that capacity and that capability. To determine whether the Navy can fulfill those three elements, O’Rourke examined the Department of Defense’s (DoD) top budget line, the Navy’s share of that top line, and the composition of the budget and its allowance for force structure.

While it is often assumed that the Navy’s share of the DoD top line is equal, stable, and fixed, history shows that this has not been the case with the exception of the 30-year period of 1973 to 2003. Typically, the Air Force and the Army have had higher shares in wartime, which is a natural consequence of policy and strategy. In terms of expenses, after adjusting for inflation, after a period of stability military personnel expenses have seen a real per-capita increase of forty-two percent.

In conclusion, O’Rourke drew attention to several key issues facing the Coast Guard. He noted that the Coast Guard’s program of record force is just fifty to sixty percent of what it needs to carry out its statutory mission, and in order to maintain even that, procurement needs to be approximately $1.5 to 2 billion per year. However, while the procurement budget was $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, it was cut to $1 billion in FY 2014 — the largest procurement budget cut to a service since the end of the Cold War, with no strategic rationale offered for the cut. The FY 2015 submission saw a small increase to $1.1 billion, which is still insufficient. The impacts of these decisions have not been discussed or considered, and they need to be.

Rep. Joe Courtney

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), a member of the Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, came to the forum straight from the floor of Congress, where he had just voted on the National Defense Authorization Act. Courtney praised the bill as an example of bipartisan cooperation, noting that the odds for its approval in the Senate next week look promising.

Courtney said that he believes that forums like this one are important in these polarized times, noting that sea power is “almost an existential issue” in Eastern Connecticut because of the defense industry located there. He noted that Congress has made progress in seeing increases to funding for shipbuilding, particularly the approval of the budget for the Ohio-class Replacement Program (ORP). Nonetheless, much remains to be done. “We have to get out of the bar-talk phase and into the policy discussion phase,” he said.

He noted an observation by historian Christopher Bell, in his book Churchill and Sea Power, that a nation’s sea power in war and peace depends on its civilian statesmen and politicians, who have the last word. The challenges before the nation today are existential and urgent, and they are made all the more urgent by the changes to the membership of both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. “They have their work cut out for them,” he said.

He is eager to convene what he termed a “Shipbuilding 101” session for the incoming congressmen, to ensure they are up to speed on the needs of the sea services. Rep. Courtney expressed his belief that the U.S. Naval Institute can be of great service in this area. He noted the success of the Submarine Industrial Base Coalition in lobbying and educating congressional representatives, which has led to a similar coalition for aircraft carriers.

“I am unabashed in my intention to focus on shipbuilding in the coming 114th Congress,” Courtney said. He explained that he is optimistic because he has seen how Congress makes an impact on getting acquisitions from both the Bush and Obama administrations. The momentum is there, he said, and the challenge is to build on that by educating the incoming members of congress and to address the Budget Control Act and sequestration. “It’s not just a ballistic submarine issue,” he explained. “It’s an issue that affects the entire fleet.”

Rep. Rob Wittman

The final speaker at Defense Forum Washington 2014 was Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), a member of the Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.

Along with Courtney, Wittman had just come from the floor of Congress to report that the House of Representatives had just overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act, to be followed by a Senate vote next week and then by an appropriations bill.

Wittman began his remarks by asking what Congress should be doing to bring the fleet up to a level that is capable of meeting its current operational demands. The Navy needs to increase shipbuilding to meet its adversaries’ construction, to build more ships than it is retiring, and to have a budget that reflects that. He expressed his satisfaction that the San Antonio (LPD-17) program will add a 12th ship to the program and will serve as a bridge to the next generation LX(R) amphibious warship, thereby keeping the industrial base in place while also providing much-needed lessons for the LX(R) development. He noted the importance of keeping up with ship maintenance across all ship classes.

Noting that China is currently building aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines in direct response to the U.S. Navy, he stressed the need to ensure that the necessary budget has been allocated to these elements.

Issues that Congress will need to address include: how can the shipbuilding budget be increased to over $16 billion? Ideally, he would like to see the budget increased by an additional $2 billion per year. The question of the budget share is also important and will need to be addressed.

In response to the argument that ships aren’t readiness, Wittman responds, “Unless we get sailors and marines who can walk on water, ships are readiness.” It’s up to Congress to have the discussion to determine where that money is going to come from, he said, but he believes the argument can be made because, as Odierno has said, when you look around the world, you don’t see peace breaking out. Rep. Wittman stressed that he is a believer in President Reagan’s policy of peace through strength, and that war is avoided by not letting opponents see the opportunity to take advantage of a weakness.

He noted that, during a recent conversation with King Abdullah of Jordan, it was made clear to him that throughout the Middle East the United States is still seen as the go-to nation. While it is essential for regional stability that the fight against ISIS has an Arab face, the United States plays a major role in that struggle, and our capabilities and presence are important for ensuring that the forces of good are able to push back decisively against the forces of evil.

Likewise, the United States should make similarly clear indications of support for its allies in Asia.

“I want to make sure that we’re more than a mile wide and an inch deep,” he said.
“We’ve always made the right decisions in the past, and with your help and guidance we’ll continue to make the right decisions in the future.”

General Registration Information

Defense Forum Washington 2014 will be held at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  

Registration is required to attend the 2014 Defense Forum Washington.

Please contact Member Services for registration assistance.

Printer Friendly Schedule

Thursday, December 4, 2014
10:00AM - 10:30AMRegistration and Coffee
10:30AM - 10:40AMWelcoming Remarks: VADM Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), CEO, U.S. Naval Institute
10:40AM - 12:00PMSea Service Briefing
12:00PM - 12:30PMLunch
12:45PM - 1:15PM
  • Featured Speaker: Representative J. Randy Forbes (R - VA), Member, Armed Services Committee and Judiciary Committee and Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces (Confirmed)
1:15PM - 2:00PM
  • Featured Speaker: Mr. Ronald O'Rourke, Naval Affairs Specialist, Congressional Research Service (Confirmed)
2:00PM - 2:15PMBreak
2:15PM - 2:45PM
  • Featured Speaker: Representative Joe Courtney (D - CT), Member, Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and Co-Chair, Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus (Confirmed)
2:45PM - 3:15PM
  • Featured Speaker: Representative Rob Wittman (R - VA), Member, Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces; Chairman, Readiness Subcommittee; and Co-Chair, Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus (Confirmed)
3:15PM - 3:20PMClosing Remarks: VADM Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), CEO, U.S. Naval Institute

RADM Kevin M. Donegan, USN
RADM Kevin M. Donegan, USN


Acting Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy


Rear Admiral Donegan is a 1980 Cum Laude graduate of the University of Virginia where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.

His first operational assignment was as a plank owner to Strike Fighter Squadron 131 where he made the first East coast deployment of the F/A-18 culminating in the successful Libyan air strikes in April 1986. He served as a department head in Strike Fighter Squadron 37 earning the Strike Fighter Wing’s Longhart Leadership Award. He also served as executive officer on USS George Washington (CVN 73) when the ship garnered the Battle E, the Admiral Flatley Safety Award and the Battenberg Cup.

Donegan commanded Strike Fighter Squadron 131 completing a deployment to the Persian Gulf and the 3rd Fleet command ship, USS Coronado (AGF 11), earning three command excellence awards. He also commanded the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) on a combat deployment earning the Battle E. He spearheaded Naval Aviation Enterprise’s Carrier Readiness Team, and was honored as the Tailhook Association’s Tailhooker of the Year for 2006. He also commanded Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5 aboard USS George Washington, homeported in Japan.

Ashore, Rear Admiral Donegan’s most recent joint assignment was director of operations for United States Central Command. He served at the Pentagon as director of the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review, director of Strategy and Policy Division on the Navy staff, director of Warfare Integration, and as the aide/administrative assistant to the deputy chief of Naval operations for Plans, Policy and Operations. He completed joint duty as flag lieutenant to the commander, Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy. During that tour he deployed to Sarajevo as the NATO liaison officer to the commander, United Nations Protection Forces serving as the principal air advisor during NATO’s Deliberate Force air strikes.

He currently serves as acting deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy.

Donegan graduated the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School as the Outstanding Student, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), the Navy Nuclear Power School, the USAF Air Command and Staff College, the Joint Forces Staff College and completed Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program in National and International Security.

His personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, five Legions of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals and multiple unit, service, and campaign awards. His flying experience includes over 3,800 hours in 31 different types of aircraft and over 800 arrested landings on 15 different aircraft carriers.

Representative Joe Courtney (D - CT)
Representative Joe Courtney (D - CT)

Featured Speaker

Member, Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and Co-Chair, Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus


Congressman Joe Courtney was elected in 2006 to represent the Second Congressional District of Connecticut in the House of Representatives. He serves on the Armed Services, Education and Workforce, and Agriculture Committees.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Courtney serves on the Seapower and Projection Forces and the Military Readiness Subcommittees. Along with Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia, he co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus. As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, he is Ranking Member of the Workforce Protections subcommittee. Courtney also serves on the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Courtney is the first Connecticut Congressman to serve on the House Agriculture Committee since Henry Stevens served there in the 59th Congress more than 100 years ago.

As a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Courtney has worked to strengthen our nation's defense by leading the call for increased submarine production. To date, Courtney has secured more than $500 million in funding for advanced procurement and production of a second submarine. When Courtney arrived in Congress, Electric Boat was facing significant workforce reductions, and, for the first time in 50 years, was not actively designing the next generation of submarine. Because of funding secured by Courtney, the men and women of Electric Boat will build two submarines annually beginning in 2011, marking the first time two subs will be built at the yard in a single year since the 1980s. Courtney has also fought to secure critical support for new design and engineering work on the replacement for the OHIO-class submarine, which has added hundreds of jobs in southeastern Connecticut. This design and engineering work prompted Electric Boat to expand into the former Pfizer building in New London to accommodate its growing workforce.

Additionally, Congressman Courtney secured more federal funding outside the President's budget for SUBASE New London in his first two years in Congress than were secured during the entire previous decade. The over $80 million that Courtney has brought home to the base will ensure that New England's largest military installation will thrive well into the 21st century.

Since his swearing-in, Congressman Courtney has distinguished himself as a tireless advocate for both our nation's veterans and our men and women in uniform. He successfully fought to expand the Montgomery GI Bill for post-9/11 veterans and their families, and led the fight to extend TRICARE benefits to dependents under age 26. Congressman Courtney also fought and won support for an 18-unit supportive housing facility for homeless and at-risk veterans in Jewett City. In 2009, Courtney secured $200,000 towards the project which broke ground in the fall of 2010. He also partnered with Senator John McCain to introduce the Post-9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act to help members of the military transition into the teaching profession. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of veterans, Congressman Courtney has been awarded the Connecticut National Guard's highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award. He has also earned recognition from veterans organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, which named him Legislator of the Year in 2009.

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Courtney is a vocal proponent for nearly 2,500 farmers across eastern Connecticut. Courtney is the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus, and has worked tirelessly to protect family farms from foreclosure and fix the flawed milk pricing system. Congressman Courtney also fought for lobsterman in the region when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission proposed a five-year ban on lobstering. After Courtney raised the issue and its disastrous effects, the commission ultimately shelved the proposal. In addition, the Congressman worked with federal, state and local officials to ensure recreational and commercial access to waterways in Westbrook and Clinton by advocating for and scheduling work by a US Army Corps of Engineers dredging ship.

Dedicated to preserving our green space and protecting the environment, Courtney introduced and won passage of a law that designated the Eightmile River in Connecticut as a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Thanks to his efforts, this pristine and scenic watershed will be preserved for generations to come.

Before serving in the House of Representatives, Joe Courtney represented the citizens of Vernon in the Connecticut General Assembly from 1987 to 1994. During this tenure, then state-Rep. Courtney served as House Chairman for both the Public Health and Human Services Committees and also chaired the Connecticut Blue Ribbon Commission on Universal Health Insurance.

Courtney was recognized in a legislative poll in 1994 by Connecticut Magazine for his bipartisan efforts, and named the "Most Conscientious" and the "Democrat Most Admired by Republicans." Since he came to Congress, Courtney has received numerous awards from several national organizations including the National Patient Advocate Foundation's 2010 Healthcare Hero award, The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers' Legislator of the Year Award, and the American Farm Bureau's Friend of the Farm Bureau award.
Congressman Courtney is a 1975 graduate of Tufts University in Boston. He earned a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1978.

Representative J. Randy Forbes (R - VA)
Representative J. Randy Forbes (R - VA)

Featured Speaker

Member, Armed Services Committee and Judiciary Committee and Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces


Since his constituents elected him to Congress in 2001, one of Randy’s key priorities has been to protect and defend our nation. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Randy is responsible for the research, development, acquisition, and sustainment of Navy and Marine Corps programs as well as the Air Force's bomber and tanker fleets. Randy’s position is central in developing the nation’s long-term strategies to meet our future security needs. As a result of his work on behalf of our military, in 2009, Randy became one of only a few individuals to have been honored with the highest civilian award offered by both the United States Army and the United States Navy.

Randy has rejected Washington political rhetoric and has instead focused on solutions-based leadership to tackle issues such as economic recovery, healthcare, tax reform, and government spending. In healthcare, Randy has introduced proposals to protect seniors and individuals with preexisting conditions from health insurance cancellation, to harness the potential in ethical stem-cell research, and to double the investment the federal government is making in research to cure diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. His work has earned him the award, “Guardian of Seniors’ Rights.” In addition, Randy has introduced legislation to improve efficiency in government agencies, and he has been named a “Hero of Taxpayers”. Instead of abandoning sound fiscal policy in the face of economic challenge, Randy was one of only 17 Members of Congress to vote against each stimulus and bailout package under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Randy founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history. He is known as a skilled orator on the Judiciary Committee and, as the former Ranking Member of the Crime Subcommittee, Randy is often called upon to lead the debate on national issues such as gang crime or immigration reform. As founder and chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, Randy has introduced legislation to combat Chinese espionage and is frequently tapped as a national commentator on Sino-American relations. Groups as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the National Taxpayers Union, and the American Farm Bureau Federation have all recognized the work Randy has done in Congress - a testament to Randy's independent problem-solving and focus on bipartisan solutions.

While Randy’s legislative proposals have received significant national and local attention, Randy’s commitment to improving quality of life for his constituents has been the hallmark of his career in Congress. Randy places a high-priority on partnering with community leaders and elected officials of all political persuasions to bring about greater economic prosperity, increased educational opportunities, safer communities, and improved local transportation and infrastructure for the Fourth District. His work to position Fort Lee through the last BRAC round led to the arrival of nearly 12,000 jobs in the Chesterfield/Tri-Cities area, and his work as founder and chairman of the Congressional Modeling & Simulation Caucus has elevated Hampton Roads as a premier destination for high-paying tech jobs.

Working in Washington has not changed Randy’s enthusiasm for serving those who elected him. Richmond Times Dispatch noted Randy has “earned a reputation for constituent service” for his ability to cut through red tape and for his unparalleled constituent communications. Randy publishes a weekly email newsletter with over 90,000 subscribers, which includes commentary, as well as factual information on the issues before Congress. Randy has long worked under the belief that transparency is a key condition of good government. In addition to his unparalleled work to inform and solicit input from his constituents, Randy was one of the first members of Congress to publish appropriations requests to his website, causing the Richmond Times Dispatch to call him, “an admirable example for openness.” His website was selected by the Congressional Management Foundation as one of the best websites in Congress and was specifically commended for offering constituents a “clear understanding of his work in Congress”.

A life-long resident of Virginia, Randy began his career in private law practice helping small and medium-sized businesses and ultimately became a partner in the largest law firm in southeastern Virginia. From 1989-2001, he served the Commonwealth of Virginia in the General Assembly. As a member of the House of Delegates, he served 7 years, quickly establishing himself and serving as the Floor Leader until his election to the State Senate in 1997. One year later, he became the Senate Floor Leader. He served in the State Senate for 3 1/2 years, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

VADM Charles D. Michel, USCG
VADM Charles D. Michel, USCG


Deputy Commandant for Operations


Vice Admiral Charles Michel is the U. S. Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing and providing operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources to meet national priorities for U.S. Coast Guard missions, programs and services.

His previous flag officer assignments include Deputy Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area; Director, Joint Interagency Task Force South; Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security; and Director for Governmental and Public Affairs, USCG.

A native of Brandon, Florida, he graduated from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering (with high honors) in 1985. In 1992, he graduated summa cum laude from the University Of Miami School Of Law as the salutatorian, receiving membership in the Order of the Coif.

Tours of duty afloat included serving as Commanding Officer, USCGC RESOLUTE; as Executive Officer, USCGC DAUNTLESS; as Commanding Officer, USCGC CAPE CURRENT; and as Deck Watch Officer, USCGC DECISIVE. Vice Admiral Michel also served as Chief of the Office of Maritime and International Law, Washington, DC; Staff Attorney, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, Louisiana; head of the Operations Division, Office of Maritime and International Law, Washington, DC; and as Legislative Counsel for the Office of Congressional and Governmental Affairs, Washington, DC.

Vice Admiral Michel’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and the Coast Guard Letter of Commendation Ribbon. Vice Admiral Michel was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal of the Colombian Navy. Vice Admiral Michel was the American Bar Association Young Lawyer of the Year for the Coast Guard in 1995, the Judge Advocate’s Association Career Armed Services Attorney of the Year for the Coast Guard in 2000, and is currently a member of the Florida Bar.

Mr. Ronald O
Mr. Ronald O'Rourke

Featured Speaker

Naval Affairs Specialist, Congressional Research Service


Mr. O'Rourke is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, from which he received his B.A. in international studies, and a valedictorian graduate of the University's Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he received his M.A. in the same field.

Since 1984, Mr. O'Rourke has worked as a naval analyst for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. He has written numerous reports for Congress on various issues relating to the Navy. He regularly briefs Members of Congress and Congressional staffers, and has testified before Congressional committees on several occasions.

In 1996, Mr. O'Rourke received a Distinguished Service Award from the Library of Congress for his service to Congress on naval issues. Mr. O'Rourke is the author of several journal articles on naval issues, and is a past winner of the U.S. Naval Institute's Arleigh Burke essay contest. He has given presentations on Navy-related issues to a variety of audiences in government, industry and academia.

BGen Joseph F. Shrader, USMC
BGen Joseph F. Shrader, USMC


Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command


Brigadier General Shrader, a native of Princeton, West Virginia, enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1981. He served for three years with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines as an infantryman and was promoted to corporal. After his enlistment, he returned to West Virginia where he earned an associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Bluefield State College. He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Platoon Leaders Course commissioning program in 1989.

Upon graduation from The Basic School, Brigadier General Shrader attended the Artillery Officer Basic Course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then reported to 5th Battalion, 10th Marines (5/10). While assigned to 5/10, Brigadier General Shrader served as a Guns Platoon Commander, Battery Executive Officer and Battery Commander, and deployed to Southwest Asia during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Provide Comfort.

Brigadier General Shrader reported in June 1993 to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, where he served as a recruit training company Series Commander, Company Executive Officer and Company Commander. He then attended the Field Artillery Advanced Officer Course in Fort Sill, and in August 1996, reported to the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Okinawa, Japan. While there, he was promoted to major and served as Assistant Operations Officer, 4th Marine Regiment, and Battalion Operations Officer and Battalion Executive Officer with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines.

He then attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, where he earned a Master of Military Studies degree. In June 2001, Brigadier General Shrader was transferred to Marine Corps Systems Command where he served as the Armor and Fire Support Targeting Team Lead. Upon promotion to lieutenant colonel, he was reassigned to serve as the Deputy Program Manager for the Expeditionary Fire Support System.

In July 2004, he returned to III MEF where he served as 12th Marines Operations Officer and later that same year deployed to Sumatra, Indonesia, in support of Operation Unified Assistance. In May 2005, Brigadier General Shrader received orders to stand up 5th ANGLICO, III MEF. In early 2007, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In October 2007, he relinquished command of 5th ANGLICO and was reassigned as the III MEF Force Fires Coordinator.

In August 2009, he was promoted to Brigadier General after graduating from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He was then designated primary military occupational specialty (8061) Acquisition Professional Officer and assigned to Marine Corps Systems Command. Over the next four years he served as Product Group Director for Combat Equipment and Support Systems, and Product Group Director and Program Manager for Armor and Fire Support Systems.

In May 2013, he transferred to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management to serve as Chief of Staff. In July 2014, Brigadier General Shrader took the helm as Commander of Marine Corps Systems Command.

CAPT Peter M. Swartz, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Peter M. Swartz, USN (Ret.)


Principal Research Scientist, Strategic Studies, CNA Corporation


Peter Swartz, a retired U.S. Navy captain, has been with CNA Corporation for more than 20 years. He is the author of the U.S. Navy Capstone Strategies series, a comprehensive analysis of the Navy’s capstone strategy, policy, and concept documents from 1970 to 2010. He has conducted studies for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard, often analyzing historical operational history to draw out insights applicable to current and future strategy and operations.  Currently, he is the scientific analyst to the Navy staff’s Strategy and Policy Division (N51), where he contributes to the Navy Strategic Enterprise.
Swartz served for 26 years as a U.S. Navy officer, principally in billets capitalizing on his expertise in counter-insurgency, naval strategy and policy, and international and inter-service relationships. During his time in the Navy, Swartz served two tours in-country in Vietnam as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy, was a principle drafter of the Navy’s Maritime Strategy during the 1980s, served as Director of Defense Operations at the U.S. Mission to NATO as the Berlin Wall was coming down, and was a special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell during the first Gulf War.

In addition to his analysis work at CNA Corp., Swartz mentors staff officers and graduate students researching and analyzing Navy policy and strategy. Presently he is mentoring a half-dozen Ph.D. candidates  in places as diverse as Ohio, India, Norway, and Germany. He also co-chairs the Strategy Discussion Group, an informal group of more than 650 mostly Washington-area professionals concerned about Navy strategy and policy issues.

Swartz has an M.Phil. in Political Science from Columbia University, a M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University.  He is a Life member of the U.S. Naval Institute and a Proceedings author.

Representative Rob Wittman (R - VA)
Representative Rob Wittman (R - VA)

Featured Speaker

Member, Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces; Chairman, Readiness Subcommittee; and Co-Chair, Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus


Rob Wittman was first elected to serve the First Congressional District of Virginia, America's First District, in December of 2007. He was re-elected for his fourth full term in the House of Representatives in November 2014. For more than 20 years, Rob has served in several levels of government, from Montross Town Council to United States Congress. Rob won his first campaign for public office in 1986 when he was elected to the Montross Town Council, where he served for 10 years, four of them as Mayor. In 1995, Rob was elected to the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors and was elected its Chairman in 2003. In 2005, voters in the 99th Legislative District elected Rob to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served until he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2007.
In the U.S. Congress, Rob serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he is well-positioned to represent the needs of Virginia's First District.  He has quickly earned a reputation for being an advocate for our men and women in uniform and for being a champion of the Chesapeake Bay.
On the Armed Services Committee, Rob serves as the Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, and on the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee.  In addition, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, he is a staunch advocate for a robust Naval fleet and a healthy domestic shipbuilding industry. In 2012, Rob was appointed to serve his third term as the Chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy's Board of Visitors.
As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rob brings his professional expertise in water quality, fisheries, and other natural resource issues. He is a champion of the Chesapeake Bay -- for its environmental and economic attributes -- and has introduced legislation that will increase the accountability and effectiveness of cleaning up the Bay. He serves as co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus, which brings Bay issues into focus for Members of Congress.

Prior to his election to Congress, Rob spent 26 years working in state government, most recently as Field Director for the Virginia Health Department's Division of Shellfish Sanitation. Earlier, he worked for many years as an environmental health specialist for local health departments in Virginia's Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula regions.
He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Tech.
Rob's wife, Kathryn, a teacher at Cople Elementary School in Hague, Virginia, is a Westmoreland County native whom he met when he spent high school and college summer recesses working in a Leedstown tomato cannery and on a Reedville fishing boat in the Northern Neck. They live in Montross and have two children and three grandchildren.

Rob is an avid hunter and fisherman, and when possible, he enjoys spending time with his four yellow Labrador Retrievers.

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