By Jacqueline Jastrzebski, Logistics Officer Association Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – More than 950 logistics professionals gathered at this year’s Logistics Officer Association Symposium November 14-17, 2017, including nearly 400 military officers.

With more than 50 session leaders and keynote speakers from throughout the Department of Defense and logistics industry, the LOA symposium featured valuable information for leaders at all levels.

“We all admire the warfighter, but everyone in this room here knows that logistics wins wars and can lose them,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson during her address Friday morning.

The secretary urged the logistics, maintenance and acquisitions career fields to imagine the technology the Air Force will need in the future and work to make it a reality.

Though LOA is known for bringing in exceptional speakers every year, the symposium also offered an unmatched opportunity to make connections no matter your age, rank, or job title.

“It’s a unique opportunity to network and build relationships which will be invaluable as we move forward in our careers,” said Capt. Brad Schmidt, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight commander, Luke AFB, Arizona.

The symposium began with a full day of LOA University courses that covered everything from joint logistics planning to life cycle systems management and more.

The Air Force’s top logistician, Lt. Gen. John Cooper, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, opened day two with an in-depth look at the state of logistics.

“We were 4,000 maintainers short,” said Cooper. “We’ve grown about 6,000 maintainers and we’re going to close the gap here at the end of this year.”

Cooper thanked all symposium attendees for their contributions to our military and noted that each and every logistician matters to the log enterprise.

“I benefited from hearing the visions of senior leadership,” said 2nd Lt. Becky Lanning, 752nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant officer in charge, March ARB, California. “It is helpful to know the larger Air Force picture when working at the squadron level.”

LOA used the 2017 Symposium to unveil LOGTALK: an innovative presentation format used to promote thinking outside the box.

Maj. Gen. Cedric George, Deputy Director of Resource Integration and Logistics Chief Information Officer, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, presented “Driving a Culture of What If” while Col. Dave Sanford, Supply Chain Operations Wing commander, brought us “Who You Gonna Call?”

Each LOGTALK was 15-20 minutes in length and aimed to inspire leaders to think differently about their approach to logistics and maintenance.

Professionals from around the industry also enjoyed time on the main stage. Executives from Northrop Grumman, Veterati, EdgeDweller and more offered their perspective on technological advancements and the value of disruptive thinking.

The annual symposium featured an exhibit hall with impressive displays from more than 60 industry partners. The week’s schedule featured ample opportunities to visit the exhibit hall and connect with peers from around the logistics community.

“LOA is the single best comprehensive logistics professional development opportunity,” said Brig. Gen. Evan Miller, U.S. Pacific Command Logistics, Engineering and Security Cooperation director.

The symposium concluded with now former LOA President Col. (Ret) Dennis Dabney passing the reigns to Col. Carol Howitz. As President, Howitz hopes to continue to grow the association and provide logisticians with further opportunities for professional development.

The 2018 LOA Symposium will be held October 9-12 in Oklahoma City at the Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel. Save the date!