• Army wins top award for innovation

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers) (Photos by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller).

    By Claire Heininger

     

    ARLINGTON, Va. (April 30, 2013) — The U.S. Army has been named one of the world’s most innovative research organizations, after earning more than 300 patents for new technologies in a three-year period.

    The Army joins the ranks of private companies such as 3M, Apple, AT&T, Dow Chemical, DuPont and General Electric as one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators named by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. The U.S. Navy was also named, making the two service branches the first government agencies to make the list.

    “This recognition is shared with the members of our Army Science and Technology community who perform research relevant for the Army and our important mission, and provide the innovation that contributes to a strong national security posture,” said Heidi Shyu, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), who accepted the award on behalf of the service during a small ceremony at the Pentagon. “Nearly 12,000 scientists and engineers perform their work daily knowing that it will benefit our Soldiers by providing them with the best technology available to successfully accomplish their mission.”

    The award focused on all organizations having 100 or more “innovative” patents, defined as the first publication in a patent document of a new technology, from 2009-2011. Thomson Reuters then used its proprietary methodology to measure the organizations’ success on a variety of metrics, such as “influence” — how often their research was cited by other innovators in their subsequent inventions — and “success,” the conversion rate of patent applications to granted patents.

    The U.S. Army has been named one of the 2012 Top100 Global Innovators by Thomson Reuters, the multimedia and information conglomerate. Pictured with the award are Mr. Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); Mr. Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory; Ms. Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)); Mr. John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; Mr. Bartley Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center (Corps of Engineers); and Ms. Mary Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.

    The Army scored well in both of those categories, with more than 8,500 citations of its inventions published from 2007-2011, and 327 granted patents out of 436 published inventions from 2009-2011. The service also stood out for the broad range of subject matter covered in its inventions portfolio, ranging from training software that uses virtual robots to dispose of simulated explosives, to a folding shield that protects the operator of a tank weapon station, to a vaccine guarding against infection by the Ebola virus.

    “This illustrates how we attack many Army-unique problems, yet also contribute in wide-ranging areas,” said Dale A. Ormond, Director of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “Our portfolio was heavy in weapons, ammunition and blasting, but also pharmaceutical products, polymers and computing.”

    More than 900 individuals contributed to the Army’s patents, including personnel from RDECOM, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, as well as some of their partners from industry, government and academia. Three of those individuals, representing all the Army innovators, were honored at the award ceremony, including Ronald E. Meyers of the Army Research Laboratory, who was the top innovator with 11 patents; John E. Nettleton of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Bartley P. Durst of the Engineer Research and Development Center, Corps of Engineers.

    The recognition by Thomson Reuters illustrates the depth, skill and dedication of the Army science and technology community and the impact of their efforts both within and beyond the military, leaders said.

    “Our people operate in the space between the state of the art and the art of the possible where innovation is paramount and focused on addressing needs unique to the Army,” Ormond said. “We also develop technologies that have a major impact once they leave the military world. It’s an incredible value for the taxpayer.”

    In a constrained budget environment, deliberate investment in science and technology is essential to drive continued innovation, Shyu said. The Army is developing a strategic plan that will protect and facilitate science and technology efforts that are essential to Army modernization, addressing the state of emerging and evolving threats; trends in commercial technology; current and emerging equipment requirements; and research in core priorities that address Army-unique challenges.

    While it is difficult to predict future technology developments, leaders expressed confidence in the Army workforce to continue accelerating innovation to give Soldiers the decisive edge.

    “Army Science and Technology cannot survive without innovative scientists and engineers,” said Mary J. Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “We are lucky to have an amazing group of scientists and engineers to invent, innovate, mature and demonstrate technology that provides increased capability to the Warfighter.”


    Read more »
  • AcqBusiness rolls out the Army Acquisition Dashboard

    BUSINESS (or ACQUISITION) INTELLIGENCE
    The AAD provides Army acquisition leaders with critical data from all levels including associated assessments, contracts, funding, risks, and schedules that provides consistent program data across the acquisition community.

    By Carla Faison

     

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. – For the last year and a half, the AcqBusiness program office has been hard at work prototyping, developing and piloting an executive dashboard to support the Army acquisition community. The Army Acquisition Dashboard (AAD) provides Army acquisition leaders with critical data from the program executive office level down to the program level including associated assessments, contracts, funding, risks, and schedules.

    The goal is to leverage outputs from existing authoritative data sources to allow for consistent views across programs to Acquisition community senior leadership.

    “The Army Acquisition Dashboard introduces a fundamental change to how Army Acquisition Leaders manage and convey information,” said Mr. Douglas Wiltsie, program executive officer, Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), “Not only will this dashboard dramatically reduce the administrative overhead associated with preparing monthly or quarterly PowerPoint briefings, it will also provide senior leadership with ubiquitous access to critical acquisition information when they need it.”

    The AAD was developed in response to a request from the Honorable Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition executive and assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)). Dashboards permits users to access raw data through a user-friendly computer interface, combining authoritative data from many functional areas with custom data visualization. This visualization allows leaders to advance directly to decision making.

    The AAD’s capability needs statement was developed in August of 2011, initiating a series of prototype demonstrations with Army acquisition leaders. The feedback gathered during these demonstrations incorporated the needs of acquisition leaders and helped to fine tune the dashboard.

    “Not only will this dashboard dramatically reduce the administrative overhead associated with preparing monthly or quarterly PowerPoint briefings, it will also provide senior leadership with ubiquitous access to critical acquisition information when they need it.”

    In October of 2012, PEO EIS and AcqBusiness provided a status briefing and a live demonstration on the progress of the AAD’s development to acquisition leadership. The briefing highlighted AcqBusiness’ recent accomplishments to include the consolidation of portals and the reduction in servers, and key time and cost drivers for the AAD effort. Following the approval to move forward, the AAD was released on a limited basis in late October and then made available to a wider community of acquisition professionals in December 2012.

    The initial release of AAD made available to end users all acquisition category (ACAT) I data for executive summary reporting on Army programs. ASA(ALT) is currently developing a policy and timeline to extend data reporting to include other Army programs. The ultimate goal is to have data for ACAT I, II and III programs available in the AAD and to conduct Army program reviews from the AAD rather than from manually-generated PowerPoint slides.

    AcqBusiness continues to add capabilities and new information from authoritative sources as data becomes available. Training opportunities are available via the calendar tab on the Army Acquisition Business Enterprise Portal (AABEP).

    To request access to the AAD, go to AABEP at https://acqdomain.army.mil and click on the “request access” link next to the “Army Acquisition Dashboard” link on the landing page.


    Read more »
  • From Smartphones to satellites: Soldiers use new network preparing for advise and assist mission

    A Soldier from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, uses a Nett Warrior device to communicate during the Mountain Peak training exercise at Fort Drum, N.Y., April 19. Nett Warrior, a handheld situational awareness and messaging tool, is a key component of Capability Set 13, which extends the tactical network down to the dismounted Soldier. (Photos by Claire Heininger)

    By Claire Heininger

     

    FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 22, 2013) — For Staff Sgt. Stephen Kovac, getting important information and instructions to the rest of his platoon was a struggle.

    He could radio back to higher headquarters and wait for the calls to filter back down, losing precious seconds during an operation. Or, he said, he could “yell and scream back to the rear, use hand and arm signals, anything possible to get it across.”

    That was before Kovac began training with Capability Set (CS) 13, an integrated tactical network that extends digital communications down to the lowest echelons.

    “Using CS 13, you can send reports and you can see reports from individuals on the ground in order to manipulate my team leaders and squad leaders,” the platoon sergeant said. “Even the lowest Joe can send me information, and get it to me within seconds.”

    Kovac and hundreds of other Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) are now training with CS 13 as they prepare for potential deployment to Afghanistan later this year. During the recent Mountain Peak training event here, Soldiers and leaders said the new capabilities would support their mission as a Security Forces Advise and Assist Team (SFAAT), a formation that will be charged with working closely with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to improve host nation capabilities and help the ANSF take on increasing responsibility for the security of their country.

    Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division listen to officers' feedback during an after action review at the Mountain Peak training exercise at Fort Drum, N.Y., April 19. The unit is preparing for potential deployment to Afghanistan and the training required Soldiers to work in an advise-and-assist capacity alongside role players acting as Afghan forces.

    While the Afghan forces will be taking a lead in operations, the extended, mobile network capabilities provided by CS 13 will allow the SFAAT units to support with situational awareness and needs such as calls for air support, artillery support, medical evacuation (Medevac) and other reach-back communications.

    “As U.S. forces start to reduce our presence, we’re partnered with the Afghan security forces and continue to focus on their development, but we’re doing it over greater distances,” said Col. Sam Whitehurst, 3rd BCT commander. “Having this capability where I can take some of the capabilities to command and control the brigade on the move — that gives us the ability to extend our reach, even as we reduce our presence.”

    Whitehurst’s BCT is the Army’s second brigade to field and train with CS 13, an advanced, mobile communications network that represents a significant upgrade over capabilities available in theater today. The Army’s first such integrated fielding effort, CS 13 will allow units to utilize advanced satellite-based systems — augmented by data radios, handheld devices and the latest mission command software — to transmit voice/chat communications and situational awareness data throughout the BCT.

    At the command level, CS 13 equips brigade, battalion and company leaders with vehicles linked in to Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the backbone of the Army’s tactical communications network. Those vehicles allow commanders to leave their command posts and continue to issue orders, receive briefings and monitor the latest intelligence.

    A Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 Tactical Communications Node is pictured outside the tactical operations center for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division during the Mountain Peak training exercise at Fort Drum, N.Y., April 19. The 4th and 3rd BCTs, 10th Mountain Division were the Army's first equipped with CS 13, an integrated fielding effort of tactical communications equipment that is scalable and tailorable to different unit configurations and missions.

    The integrated network also arms dismounted leaders like Kovac with Smartphone-like handheld devices that pinpoint the locations of fellow Soldiers, and connect to lightweight radios to transmit data such as text messages, Medevac requests and photos.

    “In Afghanistan in 2003, we had to take our digital camera with us, and we had to take all this extra equipment that we had — now you’re bringing it into a phone,” said Staff Sgt. Lee T. Hamberger, who used the handheld Nett Warrior system and Rifleman Radio during drills at Mountain Peak. “If I saw something suspicious, I would take a picture of it — basically anything we saw that could help with information for future patrols; they were able to have a better view of everything that was going on.”

    The week-long, brigade-level training exercise marked a significant step forward in increasing Soldiers’ proficiency using integrated network equipment in an operational environment, Whitehurst said. The next stage for the BCT will be a Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation at Fort Polk, La, which will pose SFAAT scenarios with role players acting as host nation army, police, civilians and enemy insurgents. Recently, the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division concluded its own JRTC rotation as the first unit to utilize CS 13 in the SFAAT mission.

    The next two BCTs to receive CS 13 fielding efforts, both from the 101st Airborne Division, are beginning new equipment fielding and training at Fort Campbell, Ky. With each integrated fielding effort, the units can adapt the equipment to their particular mission requirements.

    “This tactical network will provide connectivity and situational awareness for any mission in any region,” said Col. Rob Carpenter, Army director of System of Systems Integration. “The idea is to provide scalable and tailorable equipment that is integrated across all levels, so it can be responsive to what the commander needs to execute mission command. You are seeing that now as the 10th Mountain Division brigades continue to train with the network’s capability during their exercises.”


    Read more »
  • Acquisition Education and Training Corner

    Defense Acquisition University – Senior Service College Fellowship (DAU-SSCF)
    Congratulations to DAU, as well as the Army Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM) staff, for recently having our fellowship awarded Senior Service College equivalency by the Army G-3. Our fellowship is the first civilian fellowship to be granted equivalency. DAU-SSCF is now an official Military Education Level 1 (MEL-1) training program. Our goal for the past three years while working toward this was to be able to have DAU-SSCF recognized on the same level as the U.S. Army War College and the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy (formally ICAF).

    School of Choice
    We will not be offering the School of Choice program this year due to funding constraints. Please look for this program to be offered in FY14 again depending on the fiscal environment.

    Naval Post Graduate School – Masters of Science in Program Management (NPS-MSPM)
    The announcement will be open through May 13, 2013 to all eligible personnel in GS-11 through GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. While it is not in Monterey, Calif., this distance learning program will provide required DAU training in program management (as well as other career field courses) to graduate with a master’s. For more information, go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/naval-postgraduate-school-master-of-science-in-program-management/.

    Excellence in Government Fellowship (EIGF)
    The announcement will be open from June 13 – July 15, 2013 to all eligible personnel in GS-13 – GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. EIGF offers our senior acquisition workforce members the opportunity to network and team with fellow senior leaders from across the government. This program focuses on benchmarking best practices and then returning to your organization to implement. For more information, go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/excellence-in-government-fellows-program/.

    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training

    FY14 DAU SCHEDULE: On Thursday, May 16, 2013, the FY14 schedule will be available for students to apply for classes. If students are unable to attend an FY13 course, they will need to review and complete the required course prerequisite(s) now for a course they intend to take in the future. Students should continue to apply for FY13 courses available on the schedule. Planning and applying early will afford students better opportunity in obtaining a class in the timeframe requested. Encourage your supervisor to approve your training request as soon as you apply. Students should view the DAU I-catalog at http://icatalog.dau.mil to ensure they meet the prerequisite(s), prior to applying to a DAU course. A weekly low-fill listing posted weekly at http://icatalog.dau.mil/onlinecatalog/tabnav.aspx to provide students the opportunity to attend classes coming up in the next 60 days. Low-fill classes within 60 days from the start date of the class are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    TENTATIVE DAU FURLOUGH PLANNING: DAU plans to support the teaching schedule under furlough conditions. For updated information from DAU on furlough impacts, go to http://www.dau.mil/news/studentfurloughinfo.aspx. Students attending a DAU course will assume the furlough schedule of DAU and not their home organization for the duration of their DAU training. The tentative plan is as follows:

    • 1 week courses, Friday will be the furlough day.
    • 2 week courses, Monday of the first week and Friday of the second week will be the furlough days.
    • 4 week courses that start at the beginning of the pay period, Monday of the first week, Friday of the second week, and Thursday and Friday of the 4th week will be the furlough days.
    • 4 week courses that start the second week of the pay period, Thursday and Friday of week 3 and Friday of week 4 will be the furlough days.

    NOTE: This plan is not final. Once the plan is formalized, DAU will contact the DACM offices, post to the DAU website and send notices to students

    BUDGET IMPACTS TO DAU (Travel and Delivery Methods): With the overall demand for DAU classroom seats growing every year, the demand exceeds the available supply DAU can provide. Preliminary estimates show a 20 percent reduction in classroom capacity from budget cuts. DAU’s goal is to consider other teaching methods which would not dilute the overall authenticity of the classroom course material, while attempting to prevent reduction in classroom graduates. In December 2012, DAU kicked off an integrated project team (IPT) to evaluate alternate delivery methods for DAU classroom courses. The IPT consists of six teams analyzing five different methods: 1) VTC/Telepresence, 2) DCO/GoToMeeting/Lync, 3) Distance learning, 4) Shortened course duration and 5) Targeted or limited size “local only” on-sites. The IPT has conducted detailed reviews of each method and will present the results to Dr. James McMichael, acting president of DAU. The next steps include determining which methods are applicable and developing a timeline to phase in their implementations.

    APPLICATION PROCESS: Applications cannot be processed by the Army registrar’s office until the training has been approved by the supervisor. Please apply through the Army Training Requirements (ATRRS) and Resources Internet Training Application System (AITAS) at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. It is imperative that student and supervisor email addresses be provided correctly in the AITAS student profile. For more information on DAU training, including systematic instructions, training priority definition or FAQs, go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, ensure you attend the class as scheduled. Cancellation requests for a confirmed reservation must submitted at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier, to avoid a ‘no-show’.

    STUDENT PRIORITIES: DAU course management has a new process to allow higher priority, specifically priority 1 student’s first preference in the DAU resident courses. As result, students in Priorities 2 through 5 will be waitlisted for classes showing available seats. When a student is placed in a wait status, if a Priority 1 does not encumber a seat, the waitlisted student will roll into a reservation 65 days prior to class start date. The student could still be bumped from the class up to five business days prior to class reservation cut-off date or start date, whichever is higher, if a higher priority student applied within the 65 day period. The new process minimizes bumping and allows Priority 1 students to see which courses actually have seats available for them to obtain their required position certification. For additional information about the priority system, go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training/training-priority-information/.


    DACM News


    Read more »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Project officer manages ‘everything explosive’

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    Project Officer Patrick Scheerer’s job is a blast—literally. One of the projects he manages, the Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS), was originally designed to allow Soldiers to conduct safe breaching through enemy antipersonnel minefields and multistrand wire obstacles, and later repurposed to defeat improvised explosive devices. All of that makes APOBS a popular tool with Soldiers and other warfighters in Afghanistan. But the program, as Scheerer explains below, ran into a something of a minefield of its own that caused an APOBS shortage—a key subcontractor didn’t have the right permits for making explosive devices at its location. According to Scheerer’s chief of staff, Mr. Chris J. Grassano, Scheerer “quickly addressed issues with the APOBS technical data package and contractor explosive safety site plan (ESSP). His adept handling of the ESSP issue involved coordinating the activities and generating consensus across the integrated product team, including the Defense Contract Management Agency, Army Contracting Command – Rock Island Contracting Center, United States Marine Corps, Navy, APOBS prime contractor and a critical supplier. Because of his leadership and persistence, the prime contractor recently completed first article testing and is on track to deliver production hardware to the depot by May 2013.”

    FOTF: What do you do for the Army and why is it important?

    SCHEERER: Basically, I manage “everything explosive” having to do with the acquisition of demolition munition systems that help keep Soldiers and warfighters across all the services safe in the field. Some of the munitions are used to clear a safe path through minefields and complex wire obstacles. Others are used for unique military applications, such as cratering charges that quickly excavate a foxhole, ordnance disposal tools that disarm all sorts of explosive hazards and underwater tubular demolition charges that clear underwater obstacles. Ultimately, what I do is important because I supply warfighters with the ammunition they need to conduct their missions effectively and as safely as possible.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like? What has surprised you the most?

    SCHEERER: I entered government service shortly after 9/11, so through my whole career the Army has been involved in active conflicts, which has imparted a sense of urgency to most of my experiences. If I don’t deliver these demolition munitions systems, Soldiers’ lives are at risk. That urgency forced me to quickly master the acquisition process so that I could contribute to solving critical problems. That has been stressful at times, but I believe I am a better employee because of it. What surprises me most on a consistent basis is the resourcefulness and persistence of Soldiers and the Army civilians supporting them. For as many times as seemingly insurmountable issues have arisen, we find solutions, no matter the problem.

    FOTF: Can you give an example of one of these impossible challenges?

    SCHEERER: We had a showstopper with a subcontractor on the Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS), which is an explosive line charge that is primarily used to clear a safe way through fields of landmines but can also be used to neutralize improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are a big threat in Afghanistan. Soldiers use this system at such a high rate that stockpiles are quickly depleted. The sub that manufactured the fuzes for APOBS was performing the explosives work in suburban Los Angeles, Calif. This kind of work requires an explosives site safety plan, which was found to be deficient, so the sub was shut down for months. This was a big deal because if Soldiers didn’t have APOBS, they couldn’t protect themselves as effectively from IEDs; we had to keep them supplied. Since this vendor owned the proprietary data for the fuze, we were stuck because we couldn’t obtain the product from any other source.

    Soldiers with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, along with their Afghan National Army partners with the 4th Koy, 3rd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps, use an Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System to clear an area of improvised explosive devices during an operation in Zharay, Afghanistan, Oct. 15, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Ryan Hohman.)

    FOTF: How did you overcome this challenge?

    SCHEERER: It was my job to identify all of the problems and the right people who needed to be involved and to quickly get them talking so a solution could be developed. Getting people to work together was one of the biggest challenges, so we set up conferences twice a week to bring everyone together to come to a consensus on how to move forward. While we were trying to fix the sub’s problems, we got behind on the delivery schedule, so we worked a deal with the Marine Corps to borrow some APOBS to give to the Army so they wouldn’t run short. In the meantime, we were able to resolve the problems, got the sub operational again, and we recently produced the first batch of APOBS since the problem arose, which will restock Army reserves in Afghanistan. During all of this, our workaround plans ensured that Soldiers were never without APOBS. I’m pretty proud of that.

    FOTF: Can you give an example of how Soldiers have been resourceful with your systems in the field?

    SCHEERER: We have noticed that the usage of APOBS in Afghanistan has spiked. We have also noticed that sometimes only some parts of the APOBS are coming back for returns to depot. It appears that Soldiers in the field are finding other uses for the system and alternate ways of detonating it. Since there aren’t many minefields in Afghanistan, we suspect they are modifying the system to be more effective against IEDs. There is an ongoing effort to make things lighter for Soldiers, so it seems they are taking an existing system and experimenting with it to be more effective and easier to carry. That’s what I call resourcefulness. It’s also a great incentive for us here at home to quickly find solutions to meet their pressing needs. We are in the process of discovering exactly what they’re doing with APOBS and planning for improvements based on their input.

    FOTF: Has your job lived up to your childhood dreams?

    SCHEERER: When I was in elementary school, I developed a fascination with the cannons that I saw on frequent visits to Antietam Battlefield, Md. This led me to dream of being the person who built cannons and other armaments. That interest has persisted to this day and played a substantial part in guiding my education and convincing me to accept of a position at Picatinny Arsenal after college. My greatest satisfaction is being paid to pursue a childhood dream while at the same time keeping warfighters supplied with the equipment that makes them effective and helps keep them safe. Every time I hear an APOBS rocket fire followed by a boom, the third grader in me grins from ear to ear.

    Watch a YouTube video about APOBS at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vfBYclsfe0.


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

    Read more »
  • Guidance clarifies mandatory sources for contracted services

    From left, MICC small business specialists Annette Arkeketa-Rendon, Rosa Elmore and Deborah Word build awareness of policies during a 2012 internal business meeting in San Antonio. MICC small business specialists play a key role as advocates for American small business and nonprofit agencies in the acquisition process. (Photo courtesy of MICC Public Affairs)

    By Daniel Elkins

     

    JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (April 12, 2013) — Acquisition workforce members in the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) are following revised procedures aimed at ensuring equitable consideration between small businesses and nonprofit agencies for award of Army contracts.

    The MICC command policy memorandum on the required sources for the acquisition of service published March 18 provides explicit guidance on contracting sources to ensure appropriate acquisition strategy decision-making by MICC contracting officers, according to Lynette Ward, an assistant director for MICC Small Business Programs here.

    The guidance also ensures procurement actions meet statutory requirements established by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Part 8 of the FAR identifies required sources of supplies and services while Part 19 implements the use of small business programs.

    “It clarifies mandatory source procedures, stresses the importance of adequate market research, and provides a standardized decision-making process when developing acquisition strategies,” she said. “This will enable contracting officers to appropriately satisfy their zest for supporting both the AbilityOne program and maximizing opportunities for small business.”

    The policy requires members of the contracting workforce to accomplish necessary planning and market research to provide for the acquisition of commercial items and promote full and open competition to ensure that customer requirements are being met in the most efficient, effective, economical and timely manner. Procurement planning includes a determination of what sources exist to meet the government’s needs. The number and nature of the sources factor into that procurement strategy.

    The Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act requires the government to purchase available supplies or services on a procurement list from participating nonprofit agencies at prices established by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. Those services may include janitorial and custodial, administrative, document management, call centers, fleet management, warehousing and distribution of federal supplies, full facility management, recycling, food service, laundry, and grounds maintenance.

    The commission sets and approves a fair market price for products and services on the procurement list when purchased from designated nonprofit agencies. For a commodity or service to be added to the procurement list, a set of criteria must be satisfied in accordance with federal codes.

    The FAR allows contracting officers to acquire services not on the procurement list from other sources. AbilityOne nonprofit agencies may continue to compete for such contracts without preference or priority unless a potential agency has its own status under a socioeconomic program.

    Ward said small business specialists located at MICC contracting offices throughout the nation are called upon to engage early in the acquisition process to provide guidance to contracting personnel and customers on the consideration of small business.

    “Supporting both the AbilityOne Program as well as small business programs such as woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses assists in strengthening our nation’s economy,” Ward said.

    She added the clarifying policy, available at the MICC SharePoint site, also benefits the command’s mission partners with the timely delivery of customer service.

    “Having clear guidance will expedite the procurement process, allowing contracting officers to engage the most effective strategies to meet customer needs,” Ward said.

    The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter throughout Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Its primary supported activities include the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army Reserve Command and U.S. Army Medical Command.

    In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.


    Read more »
  • 10th Mountain Division unit marches forward with network training

    A Soldier from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, boards a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP)- All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) equipped with Capability Set 13 network equipment during the brigade's Spartan Peak field exercise in late March 2013 at Fort Drum, N.Y. The purpose of the week-long exercise was to synchronize the brigade's Capability Set 13 assets throughout each of the battalions, as well as certifying platoon-level leadership in combined arms live fires. (Photos by Sgt. Javier S. Amador, 10th Mountain Division)

    By Claire Heininger

     
    FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 8, 2013) — As the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) prepares for potential deployment with the Army’s new tactical communications network, a recent training exercise marked a key step in increasing unit proficiency and network performance, leaders said.

    Built around battalion operations and platoon-level live fire scenarios, the Spartan Peak event used the Capability Set (CS) 13 network to connect dismounted infantry Soldiers with the rest of the brigade more than 25 kilometers away. On the move inside tactical vehicles, leaders used voice and digital connections to exchange information and collaborate on a common operational picture as they executed their mission sets.

    “We really started to utilize the systems to do what they’re intended to do,” said Maj. Graham Wood, the chief communications officer for the brigade, known as 3/10. “We made some large strides.”

    The unit is the Army’s second brigade to field and train with CS 13, an advanced, mobile communications network that represents a significant upgrade over capabilities available in theater today. The integrated package of satellite-based systems, data radios, handheld devices and the latest mission command software “unties” commanders from fixed locations and greatly enhances communications for small units at lower echelons.

    Vehicles equipped with Capability Set 13 network equipment are deployed during the Spartan Peak field exercise in late March 2013 for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. The purpose of the weeklong exercise was to synchronize the brigade's Capability Set 13 assets throughout each of the battalions, as well as certifying platoon-level leadership in combined arms live fires.

    On one dismounted patrol during Spartan Peak, a platoon carrying lightweight data radios and smartphone-like handheld devices shared situational awareness as they spread out to pursue an objective. Soldiers sent text messages, plotted icons to show enemy locations and drew routes on their screens that were broadcast to their teammates in real time. Trailed by vehicles equipped with other elements of CS 13, the information was relayed back to higher headquarters for quick, informed decisions.

    “The company command post could actually track the movements of the dismounts, as well as the platoon leaders in their trucks tracking the dismounts,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Wilk, communications officer for 3/10′s 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. “When they have a pre-set objective, everyone can see it and have that common operational picture together — and now they can do that on the move, on foot.”

    The more hands-on experience Soldiers gain applying CS 13 during mission scenarios — after previously using the gear in the classroom and the motor pool — the more expertise and enthusiasm they develop about what the new technologies can do to support them, leaders said.

    “The sheer amount of systems is a big challenge,” Wilk said. “Once they started doing the on-the-job training with the equipment, they’re getting pretty excited about the capabilities they have.”

    Next up for 3/10 is re-organizing into a Security Forces Advise and Assist Team (SFAAT), a formation that if called upon to deploy will be charged with working closely with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to improve their capabilities and help the ANSF take on increasing responsibility for the security of their country. While the Afghan forces will be taking a lead in operations, the SFAAT units will have the network capabilities to support with situational awareness and needs such as calls for air support, artillery support and other reach-back communications. The Army has prioritized delivering CS 13 to SFAAT brigades to meet those requirements.

    A Humvee from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., is deployed with its communications satellite dish during the brigade's Spartan Peak field exercise in late March 2013. The purpose of the weeklong exercise was to synchronize the brigade's Capability Set 13 assets throughout each of the battalions, as well as certifying platoon-level leadership in combined arms live fires.

    “As you’re looking at having these small teams out there, you’ve got another way to talk back to higher (headquarters) to request assistance — that’s a tremendous capability right there,” Wood said.

    At the same time as the SFAAT reorganization, the unit will continue its intensive training regimen. The Mountain Peak exercise scheduled to take place at Fort Drum, N.Y., later this month will challenge the network to pass additional data during brigade-level operations. Mountain Peak will be followed by a Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation at Fort Polk, La, which will pose SFAAT scenarios with role players acting as host nation army, police, civilians and enemy insurgents. Recently, the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division concluded its own JRTC rotation as the first unit to utilize CS 13 in the SFAAT mission.

    Throughout the fielding and training process for CS 13, which began last October, the two brigades have been exchanging ideas, lessons-learned, troubleshooting information, and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for the CS 13 technologies. Signal officers in particular have collaborated and worked around the clock to master the different components, and are gratified to see their time and effort pay off as they conduct operations in the field.

    “You don’t really see everything until you get out of college and go into a career,” said Capt. Jesse Ellis, commander of Charlie Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. “Now they see they own something. They see it coming together.”


    Read more »
  • Army acquisition executive visits contracting students

    Hon. Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, speaks April 3 to students at the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, located on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Photo by Skip Vaughn

    By Skip Vaughn

     
    The Army acquisition executive looked out over the classroom of contracting student Soldiers and told them how valuable they are.

    “Thank you for what you guys do every single day,” Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said. “You guys are the future of our acquisition work force.”

    Shyu visited the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence on April 3 at its building on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The center is under the Acquisition Support Center, out of Fort Belvoir, Va.; and its classes fall under the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Va. The 47 students, most of whom are military, represent three classes which last from 3-4 weeks. The center has been located on the UAH campus since 2006 and in Madison Hall, 301 Sparkman Drive, since January 2011.

    Before addressing the students, Shyu met briefly with the staff and faculty. She called the three classes – including Project Management, Contracting Level-2 and Contract Pricing — very important. “What they’re learning is valuable, it’s incredibly marketable,” she said.

    She gave an overview of the international environment, her role as the Army acquisition executive and the need to take lessons learned from the last decade of war.

    The Army’s spending reflects the declining budget. In fiscal 2011, the Army did 470,000 contracting actions and obligated $124.3 billion. That declined in fiscal 2012 to 412,000 contracting actions and $107.5 billion obligated.

    Shyu pointed out that 64 percent of the Army’s contracting actions are competed. Last year 27.2 percent of contracts went to small businesses and “that’s huge,” she said.

    She told the students that contracting or acquisition isn’t a job they can do by themselves. It entails the requirements, the money and an acquisition plan. “It’s got to all come together,” Shyu said.

    She invited questions from the students; and the first dealt with the budget and sequestration. “We’re trying to make the smart decisions,” she said.

    Among the students was Staff Sgt. Trevor Dodge, 27, from Windsor, N.H. He is midway through the four-week Army Basic Contracting Course. At the end of April, he will be leaving Fort Hood, Texas, for Fort Belvoir, Va.

    “I thought it was great,” Dodge said of Shyu’s presentation. “She gives a view we don’t get very often. She hinted at things that are coming in the future so that kind of gives you a purpose in your job.”


    Read more »
  • NCOs, Meet Charlie, the MOS with the Most

    MOS 51C offers NCOs what may just be the best opportunity in the Army

     

    By Steve Stark

     

    There’s more than meets the eye in the world of contracting and “Charlie” has a lot to offer. The Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 51C classification trains noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to be contracting professionals, provides significant career and educational opportunities, and is one of the few areas of the Army that is expected to grow in the near term. But for Master Sgt. Jason Pitts, the thing that really caught his eye was a map.

    Specifically, it was the chart of all the missions that 51C supported. The chart, he said, showed “where contracting guys were, whether it was Australia, Japan, Mongolia—and to me that was like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome. I can go see all these cool places and still support the warfighter and make an impact?’ That was the ‘aha moment,’ ” said Pitts, chief proponent NCO for MOS 51C at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC), the proponent for 51C reclassification and the agency responsible for ensuring a trained and ready contracting NCO corps.

    Pitts said that the variety of things a contracting NCO could do, and the variety of places the NCO could go to do them, piqued his interest because “a lot of guys get stuck in the same experiences over and over again. You go to unit, you go to the National Training Center [Fort Irwin, Calif.] or the Joint Readiness Training Center [Fort Polk, La.] and you prepare. You go to gunnery, you prepare. You go to Afghanistan. You come back a year later, and you start it all again.” For Pitts, the option of doing something that was vital to Soldiers, but that also got him out of that routine, looked like a winner. “The contracting command was in 49 different countries last year, doing 86 different missions supporting the warfighter,” he said.

    “The NCOs in this MOS come from all branches of the Army which enables them to understand the unique requirements of a specific unit.”

    WORLDWIDE ASSIGNMENTS
    The NCO contracting corps offers a promising career path and is ripe with opportunity to serve in a variety of locations.

    “Opportunities are endless,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John L. Murray of U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC). “After completing the basic contracting course, NCOs are assigned to a contracting office where they first focus on becoming proficient in simplified acquisitions and are then able to progress and hold positions starting as a contingency contracting NCO all the way to the rank of command sergeant major.” Murray is the ACC command sergeant major and advises the ACC commanding general on all enlisted‐related matters, particularly in areas affecting Soldier training and quality of life.
    And those positions are in a variety of locations worldwide.

    “NCOs can get assigned across the globe supporting contingency, humanitarian, and disaster relief operations. Today we have NCOs assigned and deployed to locations such as Italy, Germany, Korea, South America, Africa, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Korea, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and every installation in the continental United States,” said Murray.

    MOS 51C NCOs have the vital job of not only providing procurement support for anything a unit might need; but also serving the commander as a business advisor—ensuring they get what’s needed, on time, to support the mission.

    “The NCOs in this MOS come from all branches of the Army which enables them to understand the unique requirements of a specific unit,” said Murray. “They are never at rest, they are always supporting real-world, real-time operational and installation support; where if they don’t get it right the mission fails. It is a great MOS to be in if you are a high energy, multifunctional, adaptive, and the utmost Army professional.”

    Sometimes it’s not only the big ticket items that really add value. “A road construction contract to add IED [improvised explosive device] training lanes to a downrange installation,” would not be a large dollar-value contract, Pitts said. But it could enable units to “go through these really high-speed IED training lanes so that they were better prepared for their mission when they deployed.” Not a lot of money in the big picture, but such a contract “really improves the entire brigade’s training before they prepare for combat. That’s a good example of things a contracting guy can do to help support a brigade.”

    ‘CHARLIE’ SENDS YOU TO SCHOOL
    While the “aha” moment for Pitts was travel and variety, for other NCOs, Pitts said, it’s the educational opportunities offered by a 51C MOS. “They say, ‘Wow, in my current MOS, the push for education isn’t there,’ ” and when they learn that, in the 51C MOS, their officers are going to expect them to get a bachelor’s and become a certified professional, that excites them.”

    “The contracting command was in 49 different countries last year, doing 86 different missions supporting the warfighter.”

    MOS 51C is a career field established in December 2006 to meet the Army’s continuously increasing need for contingency contracting officers, and is viewed as a critical asset. The Army is currently recruiting NCOs, in both the active and reserve components, who are interested in reclassifying to MOS 51C and meet the requirements. Candidates selected for reclassification not only learn a new craft, but also, through the training, education, and professional development aspects of the MOS, gain valuable transferrable skills.

    “Soldiers want to be valued,” he continued. “They want to feel like they’re doing something important.” The 51C MOS enables that.

    The education benefits are excellent, but the expectations are also high—by law, the NCO must earn a B.A. in 24 months—and the workload can be demanding, but there is support from the USAASC 51C MOS Proponent Office.

    “The majority of our NCOs work in the daytime, learning contracting, writing contracts with the government—that’s their craft—and at night they have to go to school online,” Pitts said.

    Murray agreed that the potential for training is significant. “Training opportunities for a 51C NCO exceed those of other military occupational specialties in the Army,” he said. “The norm is for 51C NCOs to complete college courses and mandated contracting courses through the Defense Acquisition University as part of their daily battle rhythm.”

    “Thirty percent of the NCOs we select already have their degree,” Pitts added. “The remaining 70 percent are required to get their degree—either a bachelor’s in business or a degree that affords them 24 hours in business. We have degree completion programs to help them do it. We send some NCOs to school full-time for 12 months to finish their bachelor’s degree. That way they can achieve contracting certification and then come back to the workforce.”

    Generally, the most competitive candidates selected for reclassification have at least 60 hours of college credit.

    USAASC also has an acquisition tuition assistance program that pays an additional $7,750 a year for our NCOs to go to school, Pitts said. That additional $7,750 is exclusive to the 51C program.

    Editor’s Note: The tuition assistance program is temporarily on hold due to current budget constraints.

    In addition to a bachelor’s degree, MOS 51C NCOs will receive the same training opportunities in the contracting field that are available to the Army’s acquisition officers and civilians. Active component Soldiers will attend the Mission Ready Airman Contracting Apprentice Course, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, or the Army Acquisition Basic Course, Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, Huntsville, Ala. Reserve component Soldiers will take courses through Defense Acquisition University distance learning.

    GROWTH POTENTIAL
    The 51C MOS is one of the few in the Army that’s projected to grow over the next few years, with the USAASC looking to add approximately 150 new NCOs to its workforce by October.“One thing a decade of war has taught the Army,” Pitts said, “is that contracting is a vital skill, and you cannot conduct anything in the Army without it.”

    Murray agreed. “It is one of the few military occupational specialties that is still growing to fill its authorizations as the rest of the Army is downsizing.”

    For the Army, it’s crucial to have NCOs as a part of its acquisition workforce, because the NCO adds another dimension, another perspective to the workforce. Part of that is the credibility that NCOs have with Soldiers. “Because I knew the business,” Pitts said, “I found it easier to help support them. I found the warfighter identified with me because I shared their experiences. I wasn’t just some guy.”

    “NCOs can get assigned across the globe supporting contingency, humanitarian, and disaster relief operations.”

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO
    The accession process is competitive but rewarding. Applicants must be in the ranks of sergeant, staff sergeant, or sergeant first class with less than 10 years of service. Those with 10-13 years of service may request waivers.

    “Soldiers must be deployable worldwide, able to operate in a deployed environment wearing a full complement of personal protective equipment, have no financial hardships or indicators of insolvency, and have no record of information which might adversely reflect against the character, honesty, or integrity of the Soldier,” said Murray.

    Soldiers selected for the 51C MOS may qualify for a $2,000 transfer bonus. “NCOs already in the 51C MOS are being offered a reenlistment bonus up to $22,500 because contracting is so important to the Army’s mission,” Pitts said. Except it’s not really necessary. “Right now our people are staying in. It’s a great job.”

    There are two more boards of selection this year, in May and July. Packets received now through April 26, 2013 are eligible for the May selection board. Those packets received April 27 – July 19, 2013 will be reviewed during the late July board. All board results are generally released 30 days following the board and are posted to the USAASC Web site and emailed individually.

    For specific deadlines, dates and packet submission instructions, visit http://asc.army.mil.



    Read more »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Top-Notch staff fuels success for Apache program

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    HAGER: I am the project manager for the Apache, the world’s premier attack helicopter. I’m responsible for the development, production, fielding and sustainment of the entire aircraft system, for the existing aircraft as well as the new platform. We currently have 791 Apaches in our fleet. The Soldiers who fly and maintain these helicopters are constantly in harm’s way, and our work is important because it provides them with the safest and most reliable combat operation platform.

    I’ve been in this position for six months, but I’ve been in this field for awhile. Previously, I was director of modifications for the Utility Helicopters PMO here at Redstone Arsenal, and I was the product director for Foreign Military Sales for the Program Executive Officer Aviation (PEO Aviation). I also worked as the Apache Block III product manager, where I was involved in designing the upgraded Apache (AH-64E) that we’re now fielding.

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face?

    HAGER: The combat units that fly the Apache have a very high operational tempo, which translates into a lot of wear and tear on the aircraft and a lot of repairs and maintenance. Additionally, there are a lot of units who are training to fly this aircraft, and they too put a lot of hours on the plane. For us, the challenge is making sure that we have the components and knowledge to keep the aircraft operational to ensure mission success.

    FOTF: How do you overcome that challenge?

    HAGER: We overcome this particular challenge with our exceptional project office personnel or “staff”. The amount of knowledge that our personnel possess is impressive, and their work ethic and their technical expertise keep this office running. I know that for any challenge that comes up — a business issue, a logistics matter, any developmental concerns, a contracting question — we have the people on staff who can handle it.

    We have top-notch logistics and sustainment personnel who provide in-depth knowledge of the aircraft, as well as fleet management personnel who can get equipment and planes to where they need to be. I can count on them to bring to my attention to the big issues, and they keep me apprised of what’s going on. It’s an honor to work with them as we keep the program running.

    In addition to serving as Project Manager for the Apache Attack Helicopter PMO, Col. Hager also served as the Apache Block III product manager, designing the upgraded Apache (AH-64E) that’s shown here and currently being fielded.

    FOTF: How does the new Apache differ from previous models?

    HAGER: It’s the first Apache in 30 years to feature a new main transmission, and its engine has incredibly greater horsepower than in the past. It also features composite main rotor blades, and the end result of all those changes is an aircraft that can carry more weight at higher altitudes and operate in higher temperatures. It also includes a new onboard mission processor (computer) system designed with open source architecture, making it easier to add new hardware and software components.

    FOTF: What challenges do you encounter with fielding the new Apache?

    HAGER: The new Apache has 251 new, unique components not found in previous versions of the aircraft. So the biggest challenge is making sure that the components are available and we have the capabilities and equipment to properly sustain that aircraft.

    We overcome this by using contractor logistics support, which means we provide a portion of the required parts to contractors who maintain the aircraft, and we have a good relationship with the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Ariz., to make sure the supply line flows smoothly. We’ll get an even stronger handle on that challenge in October 2014, when we’ll switch to a performance-based logistics operation that will give us a formalized standard operating system for sustaining the aircraft.

    Here too, personnel play a key part. A large portion of our staff is comprised of former military people, and their experience is invaluable. And I know my staff has the expertise to figure out how to fix the new components and obtain replacement parts, all while keeping in mind Better Buying Power initiatives that will ensure that the units get what they need at a cost that’s affordable.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not at work? How do your hobbies dovetail with your work?

    HAGER: I love to run, particularly long distances: ultramarathons, or any race longer than 26.2 miles. My favorite distances are the 40- or 50-milers and the 50-Ks. My wife thinks I’m crazy. I’m also a member of a local Harley-Davidson riding club. Running or riding with people I work with provides another way to build relationships and it’s a good way to get work done. The change in scene often leads to discovering different perspectives on a tough issue.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    HAGER: I joined the Army to initially leave the very small hometown I grew up in and to get an education. I was interested in airborne operations and the teamwork the Army builds when grouping individuals together from all over the United States. My greatest satisfaction is the feeling of being a part of something big. Everyone has a place and a mission, and it’s rewarding to make a change in today’s world.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Apache.aspx


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

    Read more »