Connecticut is at the center of the global security world right now.
Global Security Forum 2021 started virtually Tuesday and will continue in person this weekend at the Connecticut Science Center and Goodwin University. It draws military leaders, policymakers, experts, and foreign leaders from across the country and the world.
“It’s a look at the most critical issues in defense and security around the world,” Megan Torrey, CEO of the World Affairs Council of Connecticut, said.
The World Affairs Council is partnering with the Connecticut National Guard to host the event.
From the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, to the modern-day space race and cyber hacks, organizers say global security impacts us all. That is a through-line at the fifth annual forum. The theme this year is “Competing For The Future.”
“It's an opportunity to look at the world, look at the United States’ place in the world, and to transform,” Torrey said.
On the docket: cyber security, space exploration, and national defense.
“What are the major issues in the world that really deserve time and attention,” Major Dave Pytlik, public affairs officer for the Connecticut National Guard, said.
Leaders will dissect how the United States was exposed to recent cyber breaches, including the largest cyberattack in U.S. history on the Colonial Pipeline.
“Now that we’re seeing more and more cyber-attacks of varying levels of intricacy, it’s very much a part of the security picture,” Major Pytlik said.
They will also discuss space travel, crucial to security now in 2021.
“We're seeing it more and more within the military services, including the creation of a whole new branch of the military service space force,” Torrey said.
One big topic of conversation at the forum will be the war in Afghanistan. Experts say while the United States spent the last 20 years focused on that war, our global competitors have used that time to innovate, especially in defense technology.
“Before 9/11 the United States as a global military power and a global political power was very focused on international competition,” Major Pytlik said. “Obviously the last 20 years of the global War on Terror took up resources and took up some of our attention, and there were some advances made by other militaries.”
Ultimately, the conversation will center on the future.
“The United States is waking up to a new day. The threats that we face today are different than the threats that we faced 20 years ago,” Torrey said.
The backdrop is Connecticut, a state playing a key role.
“Connecticut is so essential. An estimated 120,000 jobs support that defense industry,” Torrey said. “Those technologies that are going to help us innovate for the future are being developed right here in Connecticut.”
There is also a new component at the forum this year. Cadets from military academies across the country will be attending to speak with leaders about the jobs they will be filling in the future.
Anyone can attend Global Security Forum 2021. To get tickets, visit GSF2021.com.