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Pictured: Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 3, 2021. Screen capture of live video. 

by Kimberly Rivers

Naval Base Ventura County served as the landing site for 13 jets bringing hundreds of passengers to Ventura County last weekend for the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.

Every year, the symposium gathers power players in the national defense sector to Simi Valley in order to “review and assess policies that strengthen America’s national defense in the context of the global threat environment.” All conversations are recorded and available for public viewing.

This year’s forum took place Dec. 3 and 4, and included frank conversations from industry and government experts and leaders about how threats to the U.S. are morphing, with innovations in technology and the shifts in governments around the world. 

Defense strategy heavy hitters speaking on panels or attending the forum included Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense; Gen. James C. McConville, U.S. Army Chief of Staff; Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command; former Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates, Mark T. Esper and Leon Panetta; Sen. Jack Reed  (D-Rhode Island), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush. 

The 13 jets carried the attendees, their staff, security and aircrews, according to a spokesperson with the base. 

Those attending also included leaders of corporations that hold military contracts with the federal government, such as Brad Smith, president of Microsoft; Marillyn Hewson, former president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation; David McCormick, CEO of Bridgewater Associates; and Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Topics of the panel discussions ranged from “How Should the New National Defense Strategy Contend with China?” to  “Public Perception of American Leadership in the World” and “A Manufacturing Renaissance: Bolstering U.S. Production for National Security and Economic Prosperity.” Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, was on the panel discussing “The Limitless Frontier: Space Force and the New Space Economy.” 

Panel discussions were moderated by members of the national press, including reporters from CBS, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel. 

Details, panel descriptions and panelists are online at:

All panel discussions are online at: