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Future Forces Forum Rocked Prague Last Week

October 25, 2016

A live demo at the Future Forces Exhibition & Conference in 2014.

For a month overflowing with arms shows, whether Milipol in Doha or Euronaval in Paris, arguably the most important of the lot was the week-long affair in Prague’s commodious PVA Expo. The Future Forces Forum (FFF) was held from October 17 to 21 and involved 200+ exhibitors, hundreds of speakers, and thousands of guests. The FFF this year was the latest installment of a long-running series that dates to a NATO sponsored trade show for procuring military apparel.

What used to be the Future Forces Exhibition & Conference from 2014 now reached an unprecedented scale. FFF was actually an umbrella for 13 separate events–a large arms show coinciding with 11 conferences. 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for FFF.

Leading the charge was the Future Forces International Exhibition 2016 that took place from October 19 to 21. But it was preceded by “Official Expert Working Group Section” on October 17 meant for 250 experts from 28 NATO countries to discuss issues connected with allied infantrymen and women. Here’s the full listing of events-within-the-event:

  • Official Expert Working Group Sessions
  • Future Forces International Exhibition
  • World CBRN & Medical Congress
  • Geospatial, Hydrometeorological & GNSS Workshop
  • Multinational Training Centre For Jet Pilots
  • Future Soldier Systems Conference
  • Military Advanced Robotic Systems
  • Cyber Trends / Cyber Trends Workshop
  • Logistics Capability Workshop
  • CBRN Workshop
  • Medical Workshop
  • International Conference Tactics 2016

Claims of excessive Eurocentrism are unfounded, however, as the cumulative occasion played hosts to more than a few participants from outside the continent. While it’s true FFF 2016 did favor the host, with 94 local Czech firms exhibiting, non-NATO entities and three Asian countries were in Prague for business too. A lone UAV manufacturer from Ukraine was exhibiting and, eschewing any pretense of secrecy, Azerbaijan’s highest ranking soldier Colonel General Zakir Hasanov attended.

One such high profile attendee was Pakistan Ordnance Factories. The state-owned small arms and munitions enterprise was hardly out of place with its licensed Heckler & Koch rifles and G3 machine guns. There was a small Israeli presence as well, with three firms participating. A genuine surprise was a single exhibitor from Thailand, Getac Technology Corporation, specializing in rugged handheld devices.

The size and scope of FFF in 2016 is a potent symbol for NATO’s own resurgence in recent years. More than a bulwark against rival powers the institution is a magnet for innovative companies and alliance-building from the European periphery.

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