From Signal Flags
AFCEA celebrates 70 years of building
military and industry partnerships that
sustain defense and security worldwide.
BY BEVERLY MOWERY COOPER
Seventy years ago, in a meeting area t the Fraunces Tavern in New York, a group of respected military and corporate leaders gathered.
Their purpose was to discuss a shared concern, one that was on the minds of many
in the aftermath of World War II.
Throughout the war, improved communications and electronics devices had
emerged, enhancing military capabilities.
These leaders recognized the challenge
not only of continuing to advance the
technology that had resulted from the war
effort, but also of ensuring that military
and industry organizations remained in a
strong partnership, one that would lead to
preparedness for the future.
The details of this meeting would have
been communicated via landlines, typewritten reports or telegraph dispatches.
Products and services such as smartphones, computers or the cloud were
beyond the imaginations of even the
brightest minds in that room, such as
Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff, USAR, who
foresaw the combination of radar, televisions and electronics as revolutionizing
warfare. While these leaders understood
the power that communications technology offered, they could not have predicted
how ubiquitous it would become, available to users as young as preschoolers or
to enemies who no longer needed a physical command center.
In simplest terms, the goal of the meet-
ing was not to predict the future but to
secure it. The leaders were gathered as
part of a new organization that would sup-
port global defense and security in ways
that would transcend the decades. This
organization would become the Armed
Forces Communications and Electron-
ics Association, better known as AFCEA,
and it would empower those in military
and industry to advance technology and
ensure security by opening channels for
As the meeting proceeded, a letter from
President Harry S Truman set the tone,
acknowledging the organization as one for
fostering “industrial preparedness, which
must buttress the future security of our
country.” Maj. Gen. Harry C. Ingles, USA,
chief signal officer, addressed the attendees,
and Gen. Sarnoff, who became AFCEA’s
first president, also spoke. Gen. Sarnoff led
a distinguished broadcasting career that
culminated in his service as RCA’s chairman of the board. AFCEA’s founding
fathers also included Darryl F. Zanuck, who
was a renowned 20th Century Fox movie
producer and covered action in North
Africa for the Signal Corps.
Today, the battle against real and growing threats to global security continues to
evolve. AFCEA remains true to its founders, sustaining innovation in information
and communications technology and
Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff, USAR,
demonstrates the RCA videotape machine.
The president of RCA was one of the
founders of AFCEA and its first president.
The CEO originally was
known as the executive
secretary. Later, that
title became general
manager. In 1977, the
known as president.
Brig. Gen. Stephen
Sherrill, USA (Ret.)
George P. Dixon
Col. W.J. “Sparky”
Baird, USA (Ret.)
Dr. Jon L. Boyes,
Vice Adm., USN (Ret.)
Gen. John A.
Wickham Jr., USA (Ret.)
Adm. James B.
Busey IV, USN (Ret.)
Lt. Gen. C. Norman
Wood, USAF (Ret.)
Vice Adm. Herbert A.
Browne, USN (Ret.)
Kent R. Schneider
Lt. Gen. Robert M.
Shea, USMC (Ret.)
For full SIGNAL
coverage of AFCEA’s
70th anniversary, visit