In a speech Tuesday that is not open to the general public, Mitt Romney will be addressing national guardsmen from all over the country...they're in Reno from now through Wednesday for the "National Guard Conference and Exhibition." Besides the voting of rules and meetings, it's held every year for military vendors to show off their latest products.
At a little after 9:00am Monday, 4,000 attendees could not wait to get in the door. Yes, the National Guard...Army and Air together...holds an exhibition, and it's here in Reno for the first time in 21 years. Bill Burks, the Adjutant General of the Nevada National Guard told us, "This is a national conference. It's from 54 states and territories."
The entire convention center is taken up by literally hundreds of military vendors...330 to be exact, all showing off gear from weapons to a huge tactical wheeled vehicle. Designed to recover wrecked military vehicles, it can lift and tow up to 55,000 pounds. Despite its imposing, tough as nails appearance, Yancey Williams from its maker, Oshkosh Defense told us, "We made it comfortable and still more survivable to soldiers."
Williams would not reveal the price, but we assume it's a lot. At the other end of the spectrum...a simple plastic case, which Peter Martin of "Ameripack" tells us is the best one a guardsman could have. "You can drop it, dunk it, shake it...it will meet all the specs that are required for our soldiers."
From low tech…to plenty of high-tech. We found one huge vehicle that goes to battle, and sets up a cell phone network. And there's the "Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter," a huge tent housing a wall of flatscreen monitors. DHS Technologies LLC's Ron Houle told us, "The commander can figure whatever he or she is going to see from this touchpad, projected up here on the screen." Cameras are patched in from briefings, drones...even from soldiers.
Too battle-oriented for the National Guard? Not since what happened 11 years ago. As Adj. Gen. Burks told us, "You know, when you look at it, since 9/11 it's really been a total military involvement."
This large convention that helps local tourism to the tune of $12 million, we are told. Maybe there will be more down the road. As Peter Duffy, the Director of Legislation for the National Guard Association told us, "I work in D.C., and I envy your climate here. It is wonderful." Come back again? "I hope so. What a beautiful city you have."
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:59 AM EDT2013-05-23 06:59:26 GMT
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