AFCEA International Celebrates 70 Years of Service

More than 200 military and business dignitaries gathered last night to commemorate the creation of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA).

The organization, established to ensure a continued dialogue between government and industry after World War II, is today’s premier association for information technology and intelligence professionals.

In 1946, Maj. Gen. Harry C. Ingles, USA; Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff, USAR; and industry leaders founded the Army Signal Association, which subsequently merged with two other signal-related organizations to form the Armed Forces Communications Association.

In 1954, “electronics” was added to the organization’s name to better reflect the growing role technology was playing in military operations.

(Learn More, courtesy of AFCEA International and YouTube)

During the celebration at The Ritz-Carlton, keynote speaker Gen.Dennis L. Via, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command, spoke about how the reliance on communications has accelerated during the past seven decades.

He pointed out that AFCEA’s founders created an organization that is as important today as it was immediately following World War II.

Speaking about AFCEA’s founders, he described the similarities between the post-war world and the world today, explaining why the association is as relevant now as it was 70 years ago.

“Sarnoff, Ingles and the others … had been part of the industrial and military might that had won the war and in the process, our nation, our military and the private sector combined, invented and fielded a series of remarkable communications and electronic devices for our troops on land, at sea and in the air.

“Now the challenge was two-fold. First, they had to continue advancing the technologies that were created during war years. Adversaries were looming over the horizon, peace wasn’t assured and the nation badly needed to maintain its technological edge,” said Gen. Via.

“Does that sound familiar? And second, they had to ensure that the strong partnership that had been forged between our military and the industrial base during World War II remained intact during the post-war years—a time of drawdowns, a time of budget austerity and a time of change.”

“Does that sound familiar? Thankfully they knew then as we know today—that relationships matter.”

Alfred Grasso, president and CEO, The MITRE Corporation
Alfred Grasso, president and CEO, The MITRE Corporation

In addition to commemorating AFCEA’s 70-year history, the event honored Alfred Grasso, president and CEO, The MITRE Corporation, as the recipient of AFCEA’s highest honor, the David Sarnoff Award.

Grasso has been an AFCEA member since 1999. He has served the association in several ways, including as chairman of the board from 2012 to 2014 and vice chairman from 2010 to 2012. He is a staunch supporter of the AFCEA Educational Foundation.

An appointed member of the Defense Science Board, Grasso has led and participated in numerous studies and is currently co-chairing the Task Force on MILSATCOM and Networking.

Grasso’s professional life also includes being a member of the Stevens Institute of Technology’s Systems Engineering Research Center advisory board and the University of Virginia Department of Systems Engineering advisory committee, as well as a board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

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AFCEA International, established in 1946, is a non-profit membership association serving the military, government, industry and academia. Join online.