BLOG: Reflections on internationalism
12 May 11
Sat drinking a Mexican beer (imported to Germany via Poland) at a pavement café in one of Germany’s brewing capitals may appear to be counterintuitive, but it does reflect the truly international and global nature of our industry. That will, of course, be my response to anyone surveying my expenses for this week.
Just across the street is the entrance to the Koelnmesse, the trade centre where for the last three days the global training and simulation community has gathered for its annual European jamboree at ITEC 2011.
According to early and unaudited information from the conference organizers, over 3,100 visitors from no less than 46 nations were present during ITEC. A total of over 140 exhibiting companies from 18 separate nations took advantage of ITEC to showcase their capabilities, products and services, including a goodly sampling of companies from host country Germany.
There had been talk in the bazaars before the show that ITEC – like so many other events in the military and security fields – was suffering from the effects of global budget austerity and that expectations of a “good show” were somewhat limited. While not immune from the uncertainty surrounding the future that is an inevitable effect of the defence reviews ongoing or recently concluded in so many nations, ITEC pulled off a stimulating and thought-provoking event that surpassed the expectations of a significant number of the exhibitors and visitors I have talked to in the last three days.
The international nature of the event is always impressive. How a nation like Norway, for example, with a population of under five million, consistently presents several world-class companies at shows like ITEC (three were present this year) has always been of interest, and nations beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ such as the Ukraine, Denmark and India were also in evidence.
Given the international nature of the event and the consequent disparity of requirements, doctrine and operational experience, it is amazing to an external observer just how much the delegates and exhibitors to ITEC have in common. In the press office, in the conference sessions, on the exhibit floor and in quiet conversations in restaurants bordering the Rhine, the common themes surrounding military training and simulation issues focused on; the blend of virtual and live training solutions; the pace of technological advance; the increasing emphasis on ‘training as a service’ rather than just the supply of equipment’ and innovative methods of contracting to help the end user overcome the procurement logjam that undoubtedly exists today.
The Training and Simulation Forum will be reporting in coming days and weeks on many of the issues raised by ITEC this year – and the themes it has highlighted will run right through the period till I/ITSEC in Orlando in November and ITEC next year, which will take place in London in May 2012.
Meanwhile one other facet of the show sticks in my mind. As a native English speaker with a degree of fluency in only one other language, I am consistently impressed and always stand in admiration of the very high quality of spoken English demonstrated by all the presenters, exhibitors and delegates to this event. Not only does a ‘lingua franca’ bode well for the interactive nature of the enterprise on which we are all embarked, but it stands as a benchmark for the international collaboration that will characterise the continuing success of our community.
The time has come, however, for me to practice the correct pronunciation of the essential phrase I try to learn in the language of every country I visit. “Two beers, please – and my friend will pay.”
Cheers! (Prost; Skol; Santé; Slainte; Nazdrovye; Lchaim......)