WASHINGTON – Military Reporters & Editors, the professional association of military journalists, is pleased to announce it will host some of the nation’s top military leaders and policymakers at its annual conference on Oct. 18-19, 2012.

Attendees will meet with the leaders of the military branches, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, battlefield commanders and representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs. A special evening reception will also feature defense and foreign policy advisers from the presidential campaigns of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

This year’s conference will kick off Thursday, Oct. 18 with a first-ever professional development seminar to provide reporters and editors of all experience levels with tips and tools to analyze the Pentagon’s annual budget request to Congress. Hosted by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Defense Budget 101 will help reporters translate reams of budget materials into relevant and illuminating news products for their regional, national and international audiences.

Other panel discussions will include:

  • A View from the Top – Uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force discuss their challenges and priorities in an era of strategic transition.
  • The War in Afghanistan: The Second Decade – Battlefield commanders and experts provide updates on the handover and drawdown strategy in Afghanistan, the unfolding strategy to defeat Al Qaeda and its allies, and prospects for stability beyond 2014.
  • The Next Generation of Veterans — The Department of Veterans Affairs and leading advocates debate the best policies to ensure hundreds of thousands of men and women leaving military service after a decade of war can find employment, educational benefits, and health care as they rejoin a society at large with little appreciation for the skills and sacrifices of service members and their families.
  • The Roles and Responsibilities of the National Guard — It is one of Washington’s most politically charged – and parochial — debates. As National Guard units across the nation face budget cuts, the new leader of the Guard discusses his vision of domestic preparedness and overseas missions, while specialists debate the right mix between the active duty force and state militias.

Confirmed Speakers and Panelists:

  • Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff, United States Army
  • Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass, deputy commander, United States Northern Command, and next chief of the National Guard
  • The Honorable John Roth, principal deputy under secretary of defense for financial management
  • Kevin M. Schmiegel, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director, Hiring Our Heroes
  • Robert A. Pape, professor of political science at University of Chicago and author of “Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It”
  • Daniel Meyer, director of whistleblowing and transparency at the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
  •  Linda J. Bilmes, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, and member of U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Board on Veterans Employment
  • Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Richard Grenell, former defense and foreign policy adviser to President George W. Bush and Governor Mitt Romney
  • Albert A. Robbert III, senior policy researcher, RAND Corp.
  • Heather Hogsett, director of health and homeland security at the National Governors Association
  • Will Goodman, chief military policy advisor to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post and author of “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan”
  • Jeffrey Dresser, senior researcher on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Institute for the Study of War, and author of “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat”
  • Todd Harrison, senior fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and author of “The Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Budget: Continuity or Change?”
  • Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information and editor of The Pentagon Labyrinth

Please join us Thursday, Oct. 18, at Northwestern University’s Medill News Service, 1325 G St. N.W., Washington, D.C., and on Friday, Oct. 19, in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building at 43 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., 20515.

To register or learn more, visit http://www.regonline.com/2012mreconference.