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Hosted by the Joint Advanced Warfighting School, National Defense University

Hampton Roads has over 300 years of military history stretching from Jamestown and the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, World War I, and World War II to Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond.

The servicemembers who fought through the ages at the 1775 Battle of Great Bridge, the naval Battle of the Capes, the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, the Civil War Battle of the Ironclads, and the Petersburg Crater, and those who deployed to France in World War I, sailed in Admiral Hewitt’s task force for Operation Torch in 1942, or left America for Normandy in 1944, all contributed to the tremendously strong foundation upon which today’s Joint Force continues to build.

Thus, it is with great pride in our history and a dynamic vision for the future that the faculty, staff, and students at the National Defense University’s Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) welcome you to the 87th meeting of the Society for Military History.

JFSC, along with our SMH 2021 partners the NDU-Foundation,, and the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Memorial, as well as our warfighting partners at the NATO-Allied Command Transformation (NATO-ACT), the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Navy Fleet Forces Command, the Marine Forces Command (MARFORCOM), the Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC), the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, and the Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), wish you an outstanding conference in our hometown of Norfolk, Virginia.

March 11, 2021 Update Letter from SMH President John Hall

JUST ADDED: Zoom Participation Instructions

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SMH 2021 Meeting Update #5.0 (16 May 2021) FINAL PRE-CONFERENCE UPDATE!

SEE YOU SOON!!! Whether you are attending in-person or virtually, we are looking forward to seeing you soon. Contrary to an odd social media report, we are not dead—in fact, we are very much alive.

Currently, 300 of you have registered to attend in-person. The weather will be great! Mid-80s, sunny, no rain. Another 270 of you have registered to attend virtually. Congrats to everyone! Under current conditions, that is absolutely awesome!

All registrants (in-person and virtual) will receive a personal virtual link to the conference via email on Wednesday, 19 May. This will be your link to all online Zoom presentations. It will also serve as your digital program. (Reminder for gov’t employees, you cannot use Zoom on your government computer.)

All Virtual Presenters should have received an email with instructions on how the virtual side of the conference will operate. Please read them before logging in. These instructions are also helpful to those in-person attendees who want to view an online presentation away from the Hilton or on Sunday when we will be 100% virtual, with no presentations taking place in the hotel. See Virtual Presenter Instructions.

Keynote Speaker Confirmed: Yale Professor Paul Kennedy, author of the best selling The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, and several other excellent books, will be the Keynote Speaker on Saturday.

World Premiere of the documentary “Surrender on the USS Missouri,” on Friday afternoon (with refreshments served), courtesy of the WWII Foundation. We will also debut their Omaha Beach Virtual Reality movie, complete with headsets.

In-Person Audio Visual & Virtual Conference Update

  • General concept:
    • We intend to blend the In-person/live, 100% virtual, and hybrid/mixed (in-person & virtual) panels so that all panels/speakers will be viewable either In-person or virtually at the time of presentation. We will broadcast the In-person/live panels and mixed panel speakers to the virtual audience (over Zoom) and take questions from the virtual audience via the chat function.
    • We will broadcast the virtual presenters (from mixed panels) into the onsite presentation venues for In-person/live attendees to view. With very few exceptions, we will not record the panels. Out of 85 panels, approx. 15 are In-person/live and 15 are 100% virtual.
    • All In-person/live and mixed/hybrid panels will occur on Friday and Saturday. The 100% virtual panels will occur on Sunday. In-person attendees can view Sunday’s 100% virtual panels on their smart phone or tablet/laptop from anywhere in the hotel.
    • We will broadcast the Awards Reception (Thursday evening), the World Premiere of “Surrender on the USS Missouri,” the Members’ Meeting (Friday evening), and the Keynote Address (Saturday evening).
  • Audio/Visual:
    • Computers capable of accepting thumb/USB drives and projectors will be available in all panel venues. You do not need to bring your computer to show maps/slides/pictures. In fact, due to the unique set up for virtual attendees, you will not be able to connect your computer to our AV onsite.
In-Person Events
  • Check-in: Hotel check-in on 2nd Floor, Hilton; Conference check-in on 3rd Floor.
  • Parking: There is plenty of parking at the Hilton (entry behind the hotel on E. Plume St) or down Main Street.
  • COVID Comfort Level: Mask and distancing conditions are evolving, but we will err on the side of safety. When you check in (3rd floor Hilton), you will receive a neck pouch and your choice of Covid Comfort Level colored stickers:
    • Green—vaccinated and/or ok with close contact
    • Yellow—please check with me first before you approach
    • Red—please keep your distance).

Conference Program is FINAL and can be accessed at the tab above
Those of you coming to Norfolk who purchased a hard copy program (or additional awesome SMH logo face masks) will pick them up at our Registration Desk on the 3rd Floor, Hilton. Additionally, all registrants will receive a personal virtual link to the conference via email on Wednesday, 19 May. It will be your portal to everything involving SMH 2021, including easy to use buttons/icons to Zoom into a panel. It will also serve as the digital program for those attending in-person.

Hotel Information
The Hilton Main at 100 E. Main Street in Norfolk is the Conference Hotel. See the Hotel tab above for more information on the Hilton and other hotels nearby. See the Maps tab for locations.

MacArthur Memorial Podcast Program
If you are a World War I scholar or a student of Douglas MacArthur and would like to participate in the MacArthur Memorial WWI Podcast or the MacArthur History Podcast, please open this link and fill it out. Amanda Williams will do her best to schedule you to participate while you are in Norfolk.

FREE Discover Downtown Norfolk pass!
Please share this with your attendees. You simply sign up for the pass and receive it via email or phone. There are discounts and/or check-in locations all over Downtown Norfolk. For every 5 check-ins (no purchase necessary), you can win Norfolk swag. But it's also just a great way to get a discount at restaurants and retail. 
Here is the link:

Restaurants (courtesy of
Norfolk is both a gastronomic paradise as well home to several outstanding breweries. As the Map tab shows, everything—hotels, panel locations, opening reception, and over 60 restaurants—are within about 1,000 feet of the Hilton Main. For foodies, check out: Restaurants in Norfolk, VA | Places to Eat & Waterfront Dining ( For craft brew aficionados, Waterside and the Hilton Grain beer garden have approximately 80 taps each. Pubs and restaurants in the downtown area also feature a wide variety of local brew. For specialists and adventurers, try The Birch, voted one of USA Today’s 10 Best Beer Bars, Finally, you can take a brew tour, buy a brewery passport, or simply visit one or more of the eight Norfolk breweries on your own. Breweries in Norfolk, VA | Craft Beer & Tasting Rooms (

Airport information:
The Norfolk International Airport (ORF) is the closest and largest airport (15 miles) to downtown Norfolk. A cab or Uber ride will cost between $20-30, depending on what level you choose. The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) is much smaller and further away. Getting from there to Norfolk will require a longer taxi/Uber ride or for you to rent a car and pay parking. ORF is your best bet.

Rail: Amtrak runs from Washington (WAS) to Norfolk (NFK) on a routine basis. The trip takes approximately 4.5 - 5 hours. Rates are very reasonable, coach (from $35) and business (from $81). There is direct service to Norfolk and train service to Newport News with a bus transfer to Norfolk. The Norfolk terminal is approximately 2 miles from the Hilton Main. There is a Norfolk Light Rail (The Tide) stop about 300 meters away. The MacArthur Mall stop will drop you 100 meters from the hotel. Otherwise, it is an easy cab/Uber ride. Train Schedules & Timetables | Amtrak

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