By Jennifer Ferrero Communications Consultant Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing


Col H. Charles Hodges, Jr. Joint Base Commander Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington


Former Senator Slade Gorton and former Congressman Norm Dicks


Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State

On May 28, Sue Bradshaw and I attended the Pacific NW Defense Symposium at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM). The event was not as well-attended as last year – which was a 2-day conference held at both JBLM and the Hotel Murano in Tacoma. However, the speakers and topics were similar.

This year, here were the event highlights:

Governor Inslee led off the day with a focus on three key areas of defense

  • Protecting infrastructure (i.e. active duty and other military personnel);
  • Making it easy for industry to do business with the state government (i.e. 1500 companies in WA do work for the Department of Defense);
  • Encouraging partnerships with Chambers and trade groups that help all companies to grow.

He noted that his first effort as Governor was to increase jobs for veterans with better skills training. He feels that Washington is strong in innovation and that our geographic location positions us for long term growth.

Next, a report from Colonel Charles Hodges, JBLM Commander

  • Provided a history of creating a joint Army and Air Force base and why it makes sense – cost savings to run both bases together.
  • Discussed how about 8,000 individuals retire from, complete active duty or otherwise separate from the military. Their job at JBLM is to ensure that they have proper skills training to enter the next phase of life. Whether people are interested in high education (4-year or graduate), community college, apprenticeships or career/technical tracks, they work with enlisted members to identify their track and work the plan. Related to work done by Center of Excellence – they promote short term certifications at the community college level – such as a welding certificate – that can be completed in 20-weeks of training.
  • Veterans have values and skills that employers want.

Defense spending update by Jeremiah Gertler from Washington D.C.

  • General theme on defense spending – the military is running smaller forces for shorter term assignments to protect readiness and modernization, support the current strategies, reduce operating efficiencies, and reduce the rate of personnel costs.
  • Navy spending is down significantly, changing the past goal of creating a 1,000 ship U.S. Navy. But even with Federal spending down for the Navy, it has doubled in Washington state.

Former Senator Slade Gorton and Congressman Norm Dicks shared perspectives

  • Gorton, a Republican, and Dicks, a Democrat shared the stage during a lunchtime keynote. They each reflected on parties working together and how they got things done while in office. They feel that cyber-security is our greatest risk at this point.

Other business

  • UAV discussion
  • Cyber Security discussion
  • Contracting opportunities discussion
  • Boeing Defense update – what is being built
  • Defense supply chain panel discussion

For more about the Pacific NW Defense Coalition, visit their web page.