• Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Educating future acquisition leaders

     

    By Steve Stark

     

    FOTF editor’s note: Sgt. 1st Class (P) Michael Kahyai (rhymes with “Aye aye”) said that his most rewarding mission during his time in the Army Acquisition Corps was participating in Natural Fire 10 in Kitgum, Uganda. That exercise, led by U.S. Army Africa Command, involved nearly a thousand African troops from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda working with hundreds of American Soldiers to improve interoperability. “It was great. It was a good mission to be part of. We were interacting with all the other nations.”

    Kahyai said that not long before the exercise, the Lord’s Resistance Army had been through that part of Uganda, “and raped and pillaged, so you still had camps of people who were displaced because of [Joseph Kony] and they were living in poverty, and when they saw people in uniform, they were a little bit scared at first.”

    That was before Kahyai was selected to become an instructor. “SFC Kahyai was hand-selected to serve at MRAC because he represents the best 51C NCO the Army has to offer,” said Master Sgt. Jason Pitts, 51C proponent at USAASC. “He is definitely the best qualified for this important job.” Kahyai “belongs to” USAASC as the senior Army instructor and liaison at MRAC.

    Kahyai said that his most meaningful day in the Army came when he was a recruiter. He went to pick up a young man he had recruited to “take him to processing, and he was sleeping on a bench outside his apartment, and I saw him when I pulled up. I asked him whether he was waiting for me or if he slept out there and he said he had slept there. When I asked him why, he said his apartment was so infested with fleas, it was just better for him to sleep outside.

    “Making a difference like that, knowing that no matter what job he picked in the Army was going to be better than that, that was a good feeling.”

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

    KAHYAI: I am an instructor at the contracting apprentice course, and I’m responsible for teaching Airmen and Soldiers how to become contracting professionals. I teach at the Mission-Ready Contracting Apprentice Course (MRAC) at Lackland Air Force Base. It’s an Air Force location, but there’s a memorandum of agreement in place where we can send 65 Army students in to get contracting training. The way the course is structured is that the only people who come here are enlisted Army and Air Force, and we’re putting through about 350 to 400 students a year, of which 65 are Army. They’re spread out, and so in each class of 12 there is usually one or as many as three Army and the rest will be Air Force students.

    I’m just another instructor in the queue, so when I pick up a class, there may be Army students in it, but some of the Army students who come through, obviously, are not going to get me as an instructor. But I still will fill the role as the liaison for all their Army needs. I’m the face of the Army here, along with Sgt. 1st Class Mark Reynolds, who’s leaving. This is an Air Force schoolhouse, and there is no other Army representation other than the instructors and the students that come through MRAC.

    The typical hours I’m here are seven to five, but in addition to instructing I’m the liaison for the Army even if they’re in other classes. I have to make sure they’re being taken care of the entire eight weeks that they are here, and I also have do all of their Service School Academic Evaluation Reports DA 1059s. So we’re not only the face of the Army, we’re specifically the face of Army contracting here.

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

    KAHYAI: When I was in my prior job, it was mentioned to me that there was a new MOS [the 51C military occupational specialty] in the Army and they were promoting people. I had been a staff sergeant for 10 years in a job that clearly wasn’t going anywhere, and I was looking for some career advancement, as well as something that would give me some skills outside the Army. I applied and was accessed into the field in 2008.

    FOTF: What is most rewarding about your job?

    KAHYAI: Aside from teaching the next generation of acquisition professionals, the best thing about my job is having an actual career path that to pursue after the military. The training and skills we get are 100 percent transferable to being a civilian afterward. There’s a lot of jobs in the Army that, when you’re finished with the military, you’re looking for another career where you hope something crosses over. For contracting, it definitely offers you a future after the Army.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not at work?

    KAHYAI: The only thing I do other than work and family is golf. For four hours every week I have no worries in the world. I have a wife, a four-year-old daughter and another one on the way, and I’m not trying to get away from the family thing—it’s just a moment of peace when I am on the golf course.

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

    KAHYAI: I joined the Army in 1993 to do something different and exciting. My greatest satisfaction was being selected for Sergeant First Class, and now Master Sergeant. I feel that being recognized for my achievements and rewarded with promotions has been a validation of my 20-year career.

    For more information on MOS 51C go to http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/military-nco/active-component-reclass-program/.

    Related article: http://asc.army.mil/web/?s=NCOs%2C+Meet+Charlie%2C+the+MOS+with+the+Most


    • “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.

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  • Engineers work to better monitor missile health

    Missiles RDECOM - Stephen Marotta, principal investigator with the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, watches as Stephen Horowitz, a Ducommun Miltec engineer, displays a fully functional prototype MEMs sensor being developed to monitor vibration in support of missile health monitoring.

    By Evelyn Teats

     

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s (RDECOM) aviation and missile center is leveraging micro-electro-mechanical systems research in a new application to detect potentially damaging vibrations encountered by missiles during handling, transport and operation.

    Stephen Marotta, Engineering Directorate project principal investigator, said MEMS research has been ongoing at Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for many years and many different applications have been successfully transitioned from the lab to the Soldier in the field.

    In an effort to improve missile health monitoring, Marotta began collaborating with Mohan Sanghadasa, from AMRDEDC’s Weapons Development and Integration Directorate, and Stephen Horowitz, an engineer with Ducommun Miltec.

    The AMRDEC team is using technology, both current and in-development, to design a new MEMS sensor that will offer several benefits over current missile health monitoring systems.

    “We’ve spent a number of years developing acoustic sensors, microphones based on piezoelectric materials,” Horowitz said, “and there’s not a huge difference between designing a microphone and designing a vibration sensor and accelerometers. It’s a different structure, a different geometry, but we use the same fabrication processes to create them. On our first generation sensor, we used the same materials even.”

    One benefit of the new design is extended battery life.

    Current missile health monitoring methods require a lot of power, because they collect vibration data at all frequencies. Research, however, has shown that the greatest risk for damage to missiles occurs during low vibration — under 200 hertz. The AMRDEC team is designing a sensor that only collects low frequency data and is capable of switching on and off, thus extending the battery’s life.

    Marotta said the MEMS work meets the challenge set by AMRDEC director for missile development Steve Cornelius to get new capabilities into the hands of Soldiers, to leverage technology solutions that increase readiness, and to enable more affordable weapons.

    “Applied research, led by the AMRDEC Engineering Directorate, is addressing those many challenges in an integrated fashion with other AMRDEC directorates, other RDECs, and other services to sustain its missile systems as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Marotta said. “AMRDEC science and technology for monitoring of missile health or condition improves the accuracy of readiness reporting and reduces the overall missile sustainment burden. AMRDEC is making a positive impact with current technology transitions at present, as well as greatly benefiting future systems.”

    A prototype of the sensor should be complete later this year with transition into the field expected in 2014.

    The team reported its research in a paper published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “A Low Frequency MEMS Vibration Sensor for Low Power Missile Health Monitoring.” The paper was nominated for best paper at the 2013 IEEE conference.

    AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

    RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.


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  • Mobile Tower System delivers life saving upgrades

    By Sofia Bledsoe

     

    When Soldiers and aircraft deploy in any part of the world, air traffic control operations become one of the most important functions to ensure that all aircraft supporting military operations maintain safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.

    The Mobile Tower System, or MOTS, provides the effective and reliable solution that can be deployed anywhere in the world, in any weather condition and will support both military and civilian air operations. MOTS will also network with other air control and battle-management systems, and complies with Federal Aviation Administration/International Civilian Aviation Organization regulations.

    The Air Traffic Control Product Office, under the Project Office for Aviation Systems, manages the MOTS, and is led by Lt. Col. Michael Rutkowski, Product Manager for ATC. Together with his team, Rutkowski developed a phased strategy to divest and replace the original system, the AN/TSW-7A, which was built in the late 1960s. Just like an old computer system, “It was simply outdated and virtually unsustainable,” said Rutkowski. Everything associated with refurbishing the 7A became very costly, even with its basic maintenance. “Plus all the manufacturers that built the original system are no longer in business,” he added.

    So the Army initiated a requirement for a mobile air traffic control system in 1999. The program passed a Milestone C decision in January 2012, which gave Rutkowski and his team approval to proceed with a Low Rate Initial Production for the first 10 of a 39 system requirement.

    In fall of 2011, a trip to visit the 3rd Infantry Division in Savannah, Georgia, led to important changes and leaps with the program. Rutkowski spoke with the 3rd Infantry Division’s General Support Aviation Battalion Commander and discussed the state of their 7A.

    “The system was having problems, and they couldn’t get parts for it,” said Rutkowski. Using out-of-the-box thinking and knowing he had capable air traffic control tower systems with two Engineering Development Models, Rutkowski felt he could provide an operational system to support their upcoming deployment. He offered the idea of fielding MOTS early so that the unit could take it into theater. “The commander not only loved the idea but saw it was a perfect opportunity to see how it handles in an operational environment.”

    To Rutkowski and his team, it was a rare opportunity in Army acquisition to gain an operational assessment straight from the users 20 months ahead of First Unit Equipped (FUE), which will be the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. FUE is scheduled to take place in November 2013.

    “I thought it would help tremendously in creating one production-like standard from taking both EDMs into theater for one complete system,” said Rutkowski. “It helps in flushing out the manuals and spare parts required using the best metric of all — our own Army Aviation Air Traffic Controllers and Maintainers, and it also provides us the confidence that our system is combat certified before production begins.”

    A few months before 3ID’s deployment in 2012, Rutkowski conducted an after action review with Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who had recently returned from deployment and were using the old 7A tower system.

    What the PM ATC team discovered was that when they traveled to Afghanistan in late 2011 to visit the 101st, the unit took a direct hit on their 7A, which destroyed their electrical power unit and rendered the 7A system combat ineffective.

    “It destroyed all the glass in it,” said Rutkowski, “and there was a huge hole on the left hand side due to the attack.” The 7A was classified as ‘battle damaged’ and was not reparable, an occurrence that contributes not only to the shortage of mobile air tower systems but also the need to build newer and better ones.

    The ATC Tower is a valued target for enemy combatants due to the antennas that are placed all around it. The lessons learned from the AAR with the 101st, the PM ATC team applied to the MOTS tower that deployed with the 3ID.

    In addition to the up-armored carrier, PM ATC rapidly up-armored the tower which doesn’t exist in any tower today, in addition to integrating significantly improved capabilities with the system. 3ID deployed with the system in December 2012 and continues to provide valuable feedback to the PM office.

    “The tower has performed well above standard in theater,” said Capt. Evelyn Valesquez, ATC company commander who deployed with the 3ID in 2012. “It’s maintaining an operational readiness rate of above 99%.”

    “The MOTS has provided our Soldiers with a sense of security from the added armor and ballistic windows, along with the additional upgrades, making it easier for maneuver and communication,” Velasquez added.

    The primary difference between the old and new tower is its updated technology, said Velasquez. The system’s digital features make it a ‘user-friendly’ system. “The four different operating positions are capable of monitoring up to 11 different radio frequencies and multiple landline communications,” said Velasquez.

    Among the tower’s other modernized key features are its secure and non-secure digital voice recording system, automated weather information from the Meteorological Measuring System, Environmental Control Units that are attached to the shelter aiding in the systems movement and transportation, which also decreases the number of personnel required for transportation.

    Eddie Spivey, the TRADOC Capability Manager for the MOTS, said that he is very pleased with the system and looks forward to completing the fielding to all the units as planned. “The MOTS has an interface to control pre-existing airfield lighting and although not deployed, comes with an airfield lighting system beginning in second quarter of FY14 when that capability is fielded.” Additionally, an ATC simulator will come with the MOTS that will allow Soldiers to hone and maintain their skills or conduct training when live air traffic is not present.

    Rutkowski and his team also added a few more features such as a ladder to the tower and an M4 gun mount. “We were able to really partner with the unit and get down to exactly what the unit needed. And, we began to receive instant and direct feedback from the users, good, bad or indifferent,” said Rutkowski.

    So what’s next for the team? “Our goal has always been: How do we influence the production line to ensure we capture the lessons learned from Afghanistan and what 3ID has done for the past year with this system, and how do we make positive changes into the current tower,” said Rutkowski.

    The biggest challenge: the PM office can’t field it fast enough.

    “Our greatest hurdle is the number of units out there that have seen MOTS or heard about it,” said Rutkowski. “I’ve received so many questions from unit commanders asking us, ‘When can I have it? What do I need to do to have it faster?’”

    “It’s been a good ‘problem’ to have, and we’re working hard on getting the units’ what they need.”

    The first complete MOTS rolled off the production line in March 2013 from Sierra Nevada Corporation who won the competitive selection for the first 10 LRIP production systems. Additional systems will be fielded beginning this summer. The Army will compete the remaining systems in a competitive source selection that will help to drive the cost further down.


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  • Army proving ground, academia partner to improve Soldier communication networks

    The Deputy Director of SDSI at ASU, Mark A. Giddings, points out data to Pat Kerr (middle), a computer scientist at USAEPG and his ASU counterpart, Kevin Buell, Ph.D., a research scientist at SDSI, during a meeting May 2, at USAEPG Headquarters, Fort Huachuca. (U.S. Army photos by Ray K. Ragan)

    By Ray K. Ragan

     

    FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (USAEPG) recently started work with an academic partner at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Security and Defense Systems Initiative (SDSI) in Arizona to assist USAEPG in its mission to test the Army’s networks.

    “We [USAEPG] wanted to team up with someone in the academic world and take advantage of the latest research and see if we could apply that to our mission,” said Pat Kerr, a computer scientist at USAEPG.

    The Fort Huachuca-headquartered USAEPG found a willing partner in ASU’s SDSI, who was looking for just this sort of partnership, to bring academic knowledge and research to solve real-world problems, explained the director of SDSI at ASU, Werner J.A. Dahm, Ph.D.

    “Obviously the T&E [test and evaluation] mission that USAEPG has is critical for the warfighter,” said Dahm. “Helping USAEPG execute its mission has tremendous benefits for the nation and the warfighter.”

    SDSI wanted to focus on assisting USAEPG to modernize test and evaluation methods, tools and fundamental approaches to improve the quality of technology for Soldiers and reduce the cost to American taxpayers.

    Data produced by network traffic during large-scale test events like the Network Integration Evaluation quickly becomes terabytes of data, and figuring out what data is important and what data is not, is increasingly difficult. The increasing amounts of data also comes with additional cost. The longer an event runs allowing testers to capture data, or the longer it takes to analyze that data, all requires additional time, which results in greater costs.

    “We’re looking for the big ideas,” said Kerr. “We need those.”

    Pat Kerr (right), a computer scientist at USAEPG and his ASU counterpart, Kevin Buell, Ph.D., a research scientist with ASU’s SDSI, discuss ways of assessing of Army communication and data networks more efficiently on May 2, at USAEPG, Fort Huachuca.

    The partnership has already produced a “big idea” with an early and important success.

    “We’re focused on doing things cheaper, faster, better,” said Kevin Buell, Ph.D., the lead researcher working with USAEPG at SDSI.

    USAEPG, like other Army test centers, approached the challenge of growing volumes of data by adding more resources like people, computers and various systems for analysis. However, the approach of adding such resources simply did not scale adequately to meet the growing needs of test events. USAEPG needed a new approach; SDSI provided that approach.

    The engineers from both groups evaluated the problem of unmanageable data volumes from network traffic analysis. The researchers at SDSI realized that there were some practical approaches to summarizing the data, which reduced the total amount of data to a manageable and usable amount.

    Buell explained the SDSI team’s approach to the challenge as, “we focused on providing network traffic analysis more efficiently – ‘faster,’ using open-source tools –‘cheaper’ and providing more advanced capability, and that’s ‘better.’ ”

    This approach developed through the partnership allowed the Army testers and engineers to focus on other critical variables of testing the Army’s next generation of communication and data networks. This efficiency gain allows test engineers and technicians to turn their attention to other aspects of the test, rather than wrestling with data, explained Kerr.

    The partnership plans to work together on finding better ways of looking at data. Rather than viewing data as raw numbers on a spreadsheet, they want to find better ways for analysts to assess the data and understand it. They also plan to address the problem of the growing amount of data from other aspects of test to find better ways to manage this data. Lastly, they plan to work together on better ways to manage software used in testing, called instrumentation, to be less costly and more flexible.

    “We’re now looking at networks differently; we can now find out things we didn’t know before that will really allow us to assess how these things [networks] will work when they are actually fielded and accessible to the warfighter,” said Kerr.


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  • MilUniversity adds to Army online learning opportunities

    MilUniversity is a new learning portal that provides enhanced training and access to Department of Defense professional networking tools.

    By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A new learning portal provides enhanced training and access to Department of Defense professional networking tools.

    Developed by the Army’s Military Technical (MilTech) Solutions Office, milUniversity bridges the gap between how people prefer to learn — those who enjoy attending training classes, but may have questions afterward, and those who prefer to learn at their own pace by reading text and viewing videos.

    “At the end of the day, people want to learn how to use each of these tools to make their jobs easier and better,” said Claudia DeCarlo, deputy director of MilTech, which is assigned to the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical.

    Within the first 10 days of its release, 1,000 unique visitors had logged onto milUniversity.

    The portal is hosted on milSuite, a group of secure, professional social media tools. MilSuite is issued throughout the DOD community to collaborate and build awareness on projects, policies and other initiatives. It is available to most DOD employees with common access card authentication.

    Bill Gledhill, a human resource specialist in the Army Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at the Presidio of Monterey, Ca., uses SharePoint and Defense Connect Online (DCO) to communicate and train employees at satellite locations around the world. When Gledhill has questions about SharePoint and DCO, project management and web-conferencing tools, he uses MilUniversity to find answers.

    “Through milUniversity, I have learned that there are many more features of DCO and SharePoint than I was even aware of,” he said. “These two programs were my incentive to go to milUniversity for information and help that enables me to communicate better.”

    MilUniversity’s homepage design mimics the layout of applications on a smart phone. Each icon on the first row links to the procedures for frequently-used tools in the DOD. These tools include Microsoft SharePoint, a project management tool with an estimated 800,000 Army users; Green Force Tracker, an instant messaging system that has nearly 15,000 active Army users; and DCO, a web-conferencing tool with 862,000 registered users.

    Other icons link to the four milSuite tools, which include milWiki, a living military encyclopedia; milBook, a professional networking tool; milWire, a micro-blogging application for sharing content across milSuite and external sites; and milTube, a video-sharing platform. MilSuite’s community currently includes more than 300,000 users.

    Since milUniversity supports the idea that people learn differently, there are downloadable reference guides, text and video tutorials available for all the tools. The portal also features three curriculum levels — 100 (getting started), 200 (intermediate) and 300 (advanced) — so users can find the right fit for their level of expertise.

    “The beauty of the different levels is two-fold,” said Tracey Schreiner, a MilTech training team representative. “Someone can say to a new employee, ‘this is what we think you should know to be the most efficient, effective member of this organization’ because the idea is that the tools on milUniversity are meant to make us more efficient in what we do. Or an organization can use the different levels to pick and choose procedures to build their own courses for each tool.”

    By using milUniversity to build courses, travel to traditional training classes could also eventually be reduced.

    “I believe the early embrace by the community is a confirmation of the need that existed for this brand of online, self-help, user education and highlights the willingness of individuals to seek help,” said Jason Bock, a milSuite team representative.

    The portal will continue to grow, supporting the idea that learning is an ongoing process, as more video tutorials and procedures are added to round out the three curriculum levels. Other upcoming changes include: updated information on other tools; displaying recent content and what’s new on the homepage; and offering a more visible way for users to give feedback.

    “MilUniversity is not only about building a SharePoint site for your organization; it’s having the employees understand how they can use that tool in their day-to-day jobs,” DeCarlo said.

    To access MilUniversity, go to https://www.milsuite.mil/learn/.


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  • Acquisition Education and Training Corner

    Even in the face of significant fiscal constraints, our acquisition workforce still has statutory requirements to meet. Therefore, we will still be offering many of our Acquisition Education, Training and Experience (AETE) opportunities. In addition, the Hon. Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense, published a memorandum (“Continuation of Centrally Funded Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund Initiatives”) on March 13, 2013. In that memorandum, he states we “must continue acquisition workforce initiatives centrally funded by…the DAWDF [Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund]. These initiatives include…DAWDF initiatives to bolster and sustain the quality of the acquisition workforce. Quality initiatives include training, development, recruitment, and retention initiatives.”
    Below are three of our programs that will continue to be offered.

    Excellence in Government Fellowship (EIGF)
    The announcement will be open from June 13 to July 15 for all eligible personnel in GS-13 to GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. EIGF offers 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 Civilian Emerging Leader Program (DCELP)
    The announcement will be open from May 13 to June 18 to all eligible personnel in GS-7 to GS-11 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. DCELP is designed to develop the next generation of innovative leaders with the technical competence to meet the future leadership needs of DOD. All acquisition Army submissions will be collected by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC). For more information, go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/dcelp/.

    Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program (ALCP)
    The Announcement is open until May 30 to all eligible personnel in GS-12 or GS-13 for ALCP level I and GS-14 or GS-15 for ALCP level II or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. ALCP offers our acquisition workforce members a hard-hitting leadership development seminar with teambuilding and practical guide to assist overall Leadership and Diversity development in organizations. The foundation of the ALCP is self-awareness as the key to both leadership and diversity development to create an innovative culture by helping to understand each individual’s personal preferences and behaviors and how each not only interact with their co-workers, but how they are viewed by others. For more information, visit
    http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/acquisition-leadership-challenge-program/.

    How to Apply for EIGF, DCELP or ALCP
    Applicants interested in applying for any of these three programs must submit their application in Army Acquisition Professional Development System (AAPDS). To access AAPDS, login at the Career Acquisition Management Portal: https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/. Next click on Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAPPMIS). Once in CAPPMIS, select the “AAPDS” tab, and then select the “Application Module” link. Click on “Apply” and view all Army DACM available opportunities.

    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training

    On Thursday, May 16, the FY14 schedule will be available for students to apply for classes (https://atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas/). If students are unable to attend an FY13 course, they 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 a better opportunity to obtain 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 is posted weekly at http://icatalog.dau.mil/onlinecatalog/tabnav.aspx to allow students opportunity to attend classes coming up in the next 60 days. Low-fill classes within 60 days of the start date of the class are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Training required for Army acquisition workforce members is a mission critical activity and is exempt from recent cuts, as stated in the Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter memo dated Jan. 10, 2013. DAU travel for required Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certification courses is centrally funded by DAU through the USAASC. Some acquisition workforce members’ travel for DAU acquisition certification training is being cancelled by organizations due to their current interpretation of their budget execution mitigation efforts. The memo (link below) outlines that DAU central funds is entirely separate from budgetary actions within a service or agency to mitigate budget execution issues in FY13. Army acquisition students approved to use DAU central funds to attend training shall not cancel training due to budget constraints. Cancellation requests (from students approved for central travel funds) less than 30 days from class start or reservation cut-off date (with funding constraint as a reason), will be denied. Students shall be deemed a “no-show” if they do not attend the scheduled training.

    For FY13, USAASC will continue to centrally fund cost-effective locations selected by the student. Commands and supervisors should continue to support and send their employees to required DAWIA training. To view the DAU travel status memo, go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/DAU-Travel-Status-Memo-2013.pdf.

    For FY14, travel funds will be cut significantly. At this point, USAASC will only fund priority 1 (required training) travel to cost effective locations. Depending on funding, we may elect to also centrally fund priority 2 training.

    DAU plans to support the teaching schedule under furlough conditions. Students can view the tentative schedule at https://atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas/. The plan is not final. Once the plan is formalized, DAU will provide communication to the DACM offices, post to the DAU website and send notices to the students. Students attending a DAU course will assume the furlough schedule of DAU and not their home organization for the duration of their DAU training.

    DAU course management has a new process to allow higher priority, specifically priority 1 student’s first preference in the DAU resident courses. As a result, students in priority 2 through 5 will be waitlisted for classes showing available seats. When a student is placed in a wait status, they will roll into a reservation 65 days prior to class start date if a priority 1 does not encumber a seat. They could still be bumped 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 days. The new process minimizes bumping and allows priority 1s to see which courses actually have seats available for them to obtain their required position certification.
     

    PRIORITY DEFINITION
    P1 Position Requirement (Training required to meet position certification or program requirements)
    P2 Career Development (Training to become eligible for the next higher certification level above the certification level required for their position/career development (Individual has met their position certification requirement))
    P3 Cross Functional Training (Personnel who occupy an acquisition position in one acquisition career field, but desire training in a different acquisition career field. Individuals should complete all mandatory training required for their position before attending any cross functional training.)
    Career Development (Individual has not met their position certification requirement)
    P4 Previously Taken Training or Already Certified (Individuals who previously completed the DAU course or individuals who have received equivalency or individuals who are already certified at the career level and have not previously taken the course)
    P5 Non-Acquisition Workforce (Individuals who are not in a designated acquisition workforce position. Individuals will be on a space available basis. If selected, individual’s command will be required to fund the travel and per diem. The instructional training (classroom/web) will be at no cost to the student.)

     

    Applications cannot be processed by the Army registrar office until the training has been approved by the supervisor. It is also imperative the student and supervisor email address is provided correctly on the AITAS student profile. Please apply through the Army Training Requirements (ATRRS) and Resources Internet Training Application System (AITAS) at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas.

    For more information on DAU training, including systematic instructions, training priority definition or FAQs, please see link at: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/civilian/faqs/. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, ensure you attend the class as scheduled. A cancellation request 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.


    DACM News


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Working to ensure mission readiness

     

    By Susan L. Follett and Tara A. Clements

     

    From logistician to contracting officer, Master Sgt. Perryman’s drive is fueled by her passion to take care of Soldiers—providing them what they need, when they need it to accomplish the mission at hand. With more than 23 years of service and experience with multiple deployments, this decorated senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) is now responsible for preparing the next generation of contracting officers to adapt to any mission they’re faced with at home and abroad. According to the Army Contracting Command senior enlisted advisor, Command Sergeant Major John L. Murray, “Perryman is a shining example of the caliber of professionals we have in the Army Acquisition Corps. She is deeply respected and a valued member of the team who always takes a personal interest to ensure Soldiers and Army civilians are prepared and resourced to do their job.”

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

    PERRYMAN: I am an acquisition, logistics and technology contracting noncommissioned officer (NCO (51C)) and senior enlisted advisor for the 918th CCB. As a contracting NCO, my work is important because I play a huge role in ensuring that warfighters receive the supplies and services they need to accomplish their missions. As the senior enlisted advisor, my duty is to train, coach, and mentor my NCOs and officers to ensure they are prepared physically and mentally for any mission.

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

    PERRYMAN: I reclassified from the logistics branch four years ago. While I was making great progress in my military career, I wanted more, and 51C offers great opportunities for advancement and good possibilities for a career as a civilian. My experience has been very challenging, especially the task of ensuring that Soldiers remain battle-ready while they settle into the 51C military occupational specialty (MOS).

    What surprised me the most is how much Soldiers rely on their leaders. They get their energy from us, and we need to keep that in mind as we train and mentor them. Knowing that their desire to be the best-of-the-best comes from us is surprising and humbling to me, and motivates me to give my all every day.

    FOTF: What is most rewarding about your job?

    PERRYMAN: Knowing that I’m taking care of my Soldiers. Even if it’s a little thing like getting new chairs for a conference room, I like seeing my work come to fruition, and I like hearing their feedback – even if it’s not always positive.

    FOTF: From your experience, what are the differences serving as a contracting NCO during deployment and non-deployment status?

    During a deployment, the workload is like a revolving door—it never stops, which is a great thing because the more you do, the better you get at it.

    In a non-deployment status, the workload does not compare to being deployed and there is an adjustment period from having a military supervisor to a civilian supervisor, but you’re still able to gain great experience if you want to learn and prepare yourself for life after the military—if contracting is part of your career path.

    FOTF: What was the most memorable item or service you contracted for during your time in Afghanistan?

    Master Sgt. Perryman congratulates Staff Sgt. Mansfield, one of her Soldiers, for earning the title of ‘NCO of the Year’ for the 918th Contingency Contracting Battalion’s first competition this March. Photo courtesy of Army Contracting Command Public Affairs.

    My most memorable item was the furniture I procured for the Camp Marmal dining facility during my deployment to Afghanistan. I remember walking in for breakfast and saw the new set- up for the first time; it was like being in a really nice restaurant. I was elated! Despite the situation we all were in at that moment, the dining facility was a place where Soldiers could take a minute to have conversations with others, watch AFN [Armed Forces Network], laugh out loud and feel a sense of peace for the thirty minutes that most spent during chow time. In my opinion, moments like that are priceless.

    FOTF: What would you say to a Soldier considering this MOS?

    If you are looking for a challenging and exciting MOS, reclassify to 51C. Be prepared to be open-minded, learn at a fast pace, work with civilians and set yourself up for a successful and bright future.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not at work?

    PERRYMAN: I enjoy spending time with my husband and my two daughters, and I really enjoy fishing. It’s very relaxing, one thing that this job is not. While I really love my work, the operational tempo is pretty high and the hours are long. I appreciate the opportunity to relax when I can.

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

    PERRYMAN: I wanted to join the Army ever since I was a child. I loved the sense of safety it projected and the pride of the people who were affiliated with it. My mother encouraged me to pursue my dreams of joining the military, and she thought the Army would be good for me—she often mentioned that under different circumstances she would have joined herself.

    My greatest satisfaction is taking care of Soldiers. The Army gives me the unique opportunity to mentor and counsel Soldiers in all types of settings, those on my team as well as those who just need someone to listen or a word of encouragement. In addition to helping, at that moment I’m also setting an example for my family and Soldiers to follow.

    Links:
    • ACC website: www.acc.army.mil
    • Interested in 51C reclassification? Visit http://asc.army.mil. Two reclassification boards remain for FY13.


    • “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.

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  • Army engineers enhance EOD Soldiers’ safety with ‘batwings’

    By Daniel Lafontaine

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army engineers in Afghanistan recently designed and fabricated a tool to help Soldiers investigate possible improvised explosive devices from a safer distance.

    Capt. Chad M. Juhlin, commander of the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), said his Soldiers needed an attachment for use with the iRobot 310-SUGV when searching for IEDs. The iRobot’s explosive ordnance disposal capabilities were limited, requiring Soldiers to operate close to the potential hazards.

    The forward deployed engineering cell from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, took on the challenge.

    The RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center developed the first iteration of the “batwing” in January for Combined Joint Task Force Paladin. It is a collapsible hook that attaches to a telescoping pole for interrogating a site believed to contain explosives.

    The same tools needed to be modified for attachment to robot arms.

    Two engineers and two technicians adapted the RFAST-C’s existing “batwing” command wire detection hook so it could be used with the EOD team’s iRobot arm, and they delivered the products in two weeks.

    “RFAST-C provides a great opportunity for Soldiers on the ground to submit a requirement on the battlefield that will eventually turn into a product,” Juhlin said. “Having these capabilities in theater not only decreases the lead time to obtain the product but allows for easy manipulation to the item if needed.”

    The RFAST-C’s modified “batwing” design provides multiple tools for remote IED operations, including a hook for grabbing or cutting command wire, a rake for breaking up soil, and a spade for moving and digging up items, said Mark Woolley, who led the project for RFAST-C. He is an electrical engineer with RDECOM’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.

    RFAST-C Director Mike Anthony said both the first-generation “batwing” for telescoping poles and the subsequent modification for robots have received positive feedback from Soldiers in the field.

    The Joint IED Defeat Organization requested 670 original “batwings” for Special Operations Forces and EOD units worldwide. CJTF Paladin requested 50 iRobot “batwings,” in addition to the 10 already delivered to the 53rd Ordnance Company.

    Anthony said the partnership between the 53rd Ordnance Company and RFAST-C was made possible by Scott Heim, a mechanical engineer with RDECOM’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center who is assigned to the Science and Technology Assistance Team at the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield.

    Heim said one of his major duties is to help Soldiers with a technological need connect with the RFAST-C.

    “This example is just one of many projects that have been successful with FAST entities collaborating with users and developing requirements in a collective environment,” Heim said. “Working with the RFAST-C, we can provide rapid prototyping designs to facilitate an evaluation as to whether it meets the user’s needs or if a couple of modifications are needed before production is started.”

    After analyzing the iRobot’s capabilities, RFAST-C personnel cut, bent and welded a proof of concept in minutes to conduct a real-time test, Heim said. The prototype functioned well, but it also revealed some weaknesses and potential optimization features. The team made changes for a second version, which was then successfully manufactured.

    Nick Merrill, a mechanical engineer with RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, assisted in the design of the iRobot “batwing.” He said the collaboration with the Soldiers helped the team quickly develop a prototype.

    “This project was unique in how we came up with the original prototype. Most projects, we sit down and brainstorm. For this one, they brought the robot in, we looked at it and how it grasps objects,” Merrill said. “Within 20 minutes of them being on-site, we had a quick, very rough prototype. Not very often does something get off the ground that quick.”


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  • The evolution of Trail Bosses, a one-stop shop for acquisition enterprise integration into the NIE

    NIE 13.2, which kicked off this week, is the fifth in a series of semi-annual, Soldier-led evaluations designed to further integrate and rapidly progress the Army's tactical network. As the NIEs have evolved over the past two years, so has the concept of Trail Bossing, and the Trail Bosses themselves. (photos by Claire Heininger)

    By Lt. Col. Keith Taylor

     

    One of the things that makes the Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) so valuable is that the Soldiers judging equipment are not part of a so-called “test unit,” but an operational brigade combat team, but that’s also one of the things that makes the NIEs so difficult.

    The 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) still has all of the responsibilities of a typical BCT: arms proficiency, physical training tests, developing the junior enlisted into noncommissioned officers and carrying out all of their standard training. At the same time, the Army requires them to learn and evaluate dozens of sophisticated communications systems, which happen to change every six months.

    It is a lot to ask— so to help ease the burden, the acquisition community provides Trail Bosses who embed with the unit. Trail Bosses are acquisition professionals who serve as a link between 2/1 AD and government and industry organizations that contribute equipment to the NIE. Trail Bosses explain the operational intent of the systems being evaluated and make sure the unit has the proper equipment and training to conduct the NIE mission, as well as its other tasks.

    Soldiers should be spending the NIE fighting the enemy, not the network. With the network remaining a cornerstone of Army modernization, the Trail Boss Team that ensures successful NIE execution is an integral part of the acquisition workforce.

    A main focus of this NIE is executing the Follow-On Test and Evaluation for WIN-T Increment 2, a major upgrade to the tactical network backbone that introduces mission command on the move and extends the network to the company level. Here, Soldiers from 2/1 AD, drive vehicles equipped with WIN-T Increment 2 during preparations for NIE 13.2.

    This unique position in the NIE process is also a benefit to the larger acquisition enterprise. Once systems are approved for participation during decision point 2 of the NIE cycle, the Trail Boss Team becomes a one-stop source for all information regarding how to integrate into the NIE. As the acquisition community uses the NIE to gain valuable Solider feedback on systems, they have a team of acquisition professionals on the receiving end of that feedback to ease the process.

    As the NIEs have evolved over the past two years, so has the concept of Trail Bossing, and the Trail Bosses themselves. Several officers have signed up to be Trail Bosses as their gateway to the Acquisition Corps, after joining from the test community, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and even 2/1 AD. In their new roles, they gain a skill set and “system of systems” perspective that will be valuable as they advance in their careers, as well as subject matter expertise on a variety of different network technologies. They learn a more “agile” approach to acquisition, in which the Army can revise requirements to more realistically meet Soldiers’ needs.

    In turn, their diverse perspectives strengthen the support the acquisition community is able to provide to the unit and the Army. Armed with operational experience and the ability to “speak the Soldier language,” the Trail Bosses now essentially serve as the third field-grade officer for each battalion, a critical force multiplier for the unit. Building upon lessons learned and after-action reviews from previous NIEs, their role has also become the overarching coordinator of standing up the NIE network and sustaining it during the evaluation.

    During the intense preparation period of each NIE cycle, when hundreds of vehicles are integrated with new network equipment, Trail Bosses are constantly in contact with their battalion staff and external stakeholders regarding integration and training schedules, property accountability, field support representative tasking and synchronization, unit requirements and project manager support. They follow standardized processes for each of these responsibilities and publish detailed schedules two weeks in advance after vetting them through the unit to ensure the plans are executable. Once the NIE itself is underway, Trail Bosses now operate right in the battalion footprint with their assigned units. When something goes wrong, the trouble ticket to resolve it goes through the Trail Boss.

    As the Trail Boss Team has become more integrated with the NIE process, that has helped the acquisition community to forge a strong, trusting relationship with all levels of 2/1 AD. That, in turn, opens the feedback channels that foster continuous improvement.

    Soldier feedback from the NIE has been incorporated into the makeup of the CoCPs that are being fielded as part of CS 13, the Army's first fully integrated communications package to emerge from the NIE process. Two Brigade Combat Teams of the 10th Mountain Division are now training on CS 13 in preparation for potential deployment to Afghanistan later this year. 2/1 AD Soldiers set up CoCPs in the Integration Motor Pool at Fort Bliss, TX, in preparation for NIE 13.2.

    A significant area of focus for future NIEs is maturing the connection between the NIE Trail Bosses and the Trail Bosses assigned to each BCT being fielded with Capability Set (CS) 13. CS 13, the mobile communications network vetted through the NIEs, is the Army’s first integrated fielding effort for network technologies that provide connectivity across the entire BCT formation. The challenges the embedded Trail Bosses face – synchronizing equipment deliveries, vehicle touches, training and other elements – are similar to what the NIE Trail Bosses encounter. Sharing more information between the two groups will further reduce the burden on units operating in a time-constrained environment.

    Through the Trail Bosses, the Army has struck a balance between what 2/1 AD is required to do for its own mission and its support for the NIE mission. The acquisition community contributes subject matter expertise on the array of systems they must evaluate, while translating acquisition lingo into operational-speak and vice versa. To that unit, the Trail Bosses are the acquisition corps, and we will continue to evolve to live up to our task.

    Lt. Col. Keith Taylor oversees the NIE Trail Boss Team as product manager, capability package integration for the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate. He holds a B.A. in criminal justice from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in acquisition and contract management from Florida Institute of Technology. Taylor is Level III certified in contracting and project management as well as a certified project management professional.


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Transforming military operations by advancing communications

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: Lt. Col. (P) Collins was nominated for this feature by Public Affairs Officer Kyle Bond. “Lt. Col. (P) Collins has had a hand in groundbreaking work for Soldier communications,” said Bond. “He has an important story to tell, and his experiences and perspectives make him an invaluable resource for the Army acquisition community.”

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

    Collins: I serve as the Product Manager (PM) for WIN-T Increment 2, the Army’s tactical backbone communications network, which provides reliable voice, video and data to Soldiers. The network is one of the top modernization priorities for the Army. WIN-T Increment 1 provided Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity communications down to the battalion level at-the-quick-halt. WIN-T Increment 2 provides advanced enhancements over WIN-T Increment 1, including unprecedented on-the-move communications capabilities down to the company level. It also introduces networking radios to the architecture and enhances Network Operations, a suite of integrated monitoring tools used to command and control the network.

    The PM is also responsible for the development, system engineering, acquisition, distribution, integration, testing and production activities for the program. We oversee the cost, schedule and performance through lifecycle development, and lead a team of 52 uniformed, civilian and contractor personnel. The PM team also directs the project teams and working groups that provide the engineering, programming and testing expertise needed to develop network communication systems for Soldiers.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like?

    COLLINS: I’m fortunate to be a product manager that has been able to take such a large project through all the life cycles — design, testing and securing a major procurement decision — and this experience has been phenomenal. We’re now getting ready to roll WIN-T Increment 2 into theater and it’s been great to participate and experience all phases of acquisition.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most?

    A 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division soldier demonstrates Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 and Mission Command on the move applications during the Network Integration Evaluation 12.1. WIN-T Increment 2 is a major upgrade to the tactical network backbone that will extend satellite communications to the company level, allowing soldiers to communicate seamlessly through voice, data, images and video - even in complex terrain that can break line-of-sight radio connections. Hosted on a single computing system, the initial set of Mission Command on the move applications will provide mobile company soldiers with the real-time information that typically would only be available inside a Tactical Operations Center. (Photo by Claire Schwerin, PEO C3T)

    COLLINS: My biggest surprise has been the sheer impact the network is going to have on the way we fight combat and conduct the full spectrum of military operations. WIN-T Increment 2 will increase the pace at which the Army can move combat operations forward while significantly decreasing the military decision-making time cycle. It brings much needed network on-the-move capability and increased bandwidth.

    What hasn’t surprised me is our Soldiers’ ability to train and become proficient with the WIN-T Increment 2 equipment. We have trained several hundred Soldiers to date, and they receive anywhere from one to 10 weeks of training. Increment 2 is a transformational communications system, and to see Soldiers train and operate this network and then deploy it is nothing short of amazing.

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?
    COLLINS: Like most programs, our biggest challenge that we currently face is continuous change and fiscal uncertainty. We’ve found that the best way to deal with that is through transparency; sharing information as much as we can. That transparency builds trust throughout our team, and trust is our biggest asset in dealing with the uncertainty.

    FOTF: How has sequestration affected your program?

    COLLINS: From a program standpoint, it may result in budget cuts, and from a team perspective, it has the potential impact of employee furloughs. We have a major system test coming up in May, while at the same time we are fielding equipment in Afghanistan and other locations. We continue to work to minimize the impact to the program and those valuable team members that support mission execution.

    FOTF: What do you find most rewarding about your work?

    COLLINS: Without a doubt, the biggest reward is the people and Soldiers I work with. The PEO and PM teams, the headquarters departments, the user communities and the units that we work with are fantastic. They’re driven and motivated, and they put mission first. Also, seeing how WIN-T Increment 2 will enhance Army operations by delivering unprecedented network reliability and flexibility is very gratifying. We’re modernizing the Army’s network and transforming our networking by adding on-the-move capabilities and providing them to the lowest echelons.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army?

    COLLINS: Like many folks, I came from a very patriotic family who taught me that honesty, integrity and hard work matter in life. At a very young age, I saw the military as a place that also valued those traits and knew it would likely be a good fit. After high school I enlisted in the Army and then subsequently attended college, where I became involved in Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. The team work, esprit de corps, rewarding challenges and the Army’s care for my family kept me with the military over the years and looking forward to continued service.

    For more information, visit http://peoc3t.army.mil/.


    • “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 »