As the Pentagon clamps down on conference appearances by senior defense officials, the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley is one of the few places where you’ll still find more than a handful in one place. The event is also heavily attended by top CEOs; Capital Alpha Partners’ Byron Callan calls it the Davos of Defense.
This year’s forum will focus on, you guessed it, great power competition, the prime focus of the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy. But with so many executives in attendance, several sessions are expected to focus on the defense industrial base, technology, competition with Russia and China and the counterterrorism fight in the Middle East. Oh, and I’m moderating a panel about Washington’s brewing budget fight. (I’m pleased to note that it will take place under a Boeing 707 used as Air Force One by several presidents.)
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving the event’s two big keynotes. One member of the Joint Chiefs is slated to attend: Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant. The Air Force has four senior officials on the attendee list; the Navy, none. (Peter Navarro, one of President Trump’s top trade advisors, pulled out to accompany Trump to the G20 summit in Argentina.)
Here’s the breakdown of senior attendees:
- Pentagon officials: 11
- State Department: 1
- Congressmen: 24
- Senators: 6
- Foreign defense ministers: 4
- Ambassadors: 4
- Generals: 3
- Top Industry Executives: About two dozen
The Reagan Forum is an invite-only event, but the livestream of each panel will be here.
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