• Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    ‘One shot stopping’

     

    By Tara Clements and Steve Stark

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: At six inches in diameter and about 50 pounds, the 105 millimeter M1040 canister effectively turns the Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) into one of the world’s largest shotguns. David Oatley is a mechanical engineer who’s in charge of making the M1040 canister, the Army’s largest round. A few years ago, he was stopped in his tracks—but not by one of his own munitions. By a Soldier who made one comment that will stick with Oatley throughout his career…”that round saved my life.”

    That was a turning point for Oatley, who realized that there “is a face to what I do.” And what he does is manage the production and fielding of the firepower for the Stryker Mobile Gun Systems (MGS) that protects Soldiers in a warzone and helps them accomplish their mission….to ensure “our products work as intended on the first trigger pull.”

    As one of many experts who serve behind the scenes ensuring that Soldiers get what they need when they need it, this was the first time Oatley had any interaction with the end user – the Soldier. “I never went to any training events or saw the end product except for when it came off of the production line. When that Soldier came up to me, it truly refocused me on this is what I need to do and why.”

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

    OATLEY: I’m the item manager for the 105 millimeter M1040 canister cartridge, which is the anti-personnel round for the Stryker MGS. As the item manager, I’m responsible for acquisition, production and management of everything related to the cartridge. This includes the day-to-day management activities as well as special efforts such as failure investigations, product improvement initiatives, and risk mitigation. As a member of the Current Force team in PM-Large Caliber, I also work any ammunition issues reported by MGS units during training and operations. Many of these issues happen when using legacy 105-millimeter ammunition that hasn’t been produced in over 20 years. My work is important because it ensures we produce and field the highest quality ammunition. We want to make sure our products work as intended on the first trigger pull.

    FOTF: How would you describe the canister?

    OATLEY: The canister itself weighs about 45-50 pounds. It’s one of the largest shotgun-style rounds available, featuring a 105-millimeter diameter projectile filled with approximately 2,000 tungsten balls. When it’s fired, the projectile breaks apart on muzzle exit and releases the tungsten. The balls then spread downrange over 200-500 meters in front of the gun. It’s often used to ‘clear’ things, for example, if there were a lot of foliage, it could be used to clear an area, but that’s not what it was originally designed for. It’s the anti-personnel round for the Stryker MGS. It was designed to be used against massed personnel that are attacking the infantry.

    FOTF: How big is the program?

    OATLEY: The program is an acquisition category III program, so it’s not as big as something like a vehicle program. We average around 2,500-3,000 rounds per year that we build and field, and this year marks our seventh year of full-rate production. In December, this program will be ending for the near-term because we’ve built up our stockpile to the point where it will last for a few years at the current usage levels.

    FOTF: You mentioned issues reported by units. Can you give me an example?

    OATLEY: Some of the issues we have are on our legacy ammunition that was fielded 20 years ago. The Stryker MGS was recently fielded and uses the same gun that was originally used on the Abrams tank. The Abrams had a 105-millimeter gun instead of the 120-millimeter gun that it uses now. Back then, the Army built a bunch of ammunition for the Abrams that wasn’t used once they switched to the 120-millimeter gun. So, we’re now firing much of our stockpile ammunition. We’ll get reports from training events or the field and they’re finding indications of aging ammunition, for example corrosion and rusting. We have to track and figure out if there’s anything that can be done so it can be used. For the most part, if it’s bad, it’s not used. The Army conducts regular surveillance on our existing stockpile that will be fielded, but it’s just not possible to catch 100 percent of the issues. On the newer ammunition, we don’t have as many issues, but do address them as they come up.

    For example, we had an inadvertent firing and we worked with the vehicle developers at U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command to determine if it was an issue with the vehicle or the ammunition. We helped TACOM and the prime contractor understand the ammunition requirements and worked with them to test and implement a design solution on the vehicle to eliminate the issue.

    “We want to make sure our products work as intended on the first trigger pull.”

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

    OATLEY: I started at Picatinny straight out of college and my experience has been very rewarding. I’ve been fortunate to work on several successful programs in a short time. In a few cases the programs had very complicated failures that required extensive investigations. That gave me tremendous opportunity early in my career to learn on the fly. I quickly gained experience producing tank ammunition, working with international suppliers, performing lethality analysis, achieving user buy-in for requirement changes, writing contracts, and managing programs. I’ve also been very fortunate to work for team leaders who trusted me to make good decisions and gave me enough room to recover and learn from my mistakes.

    The biggest surprise in my career is the complexity of our acquisition process and the time it takes to get a contract awarded. I’m also surprised at how much I enjoy the “soft skills” of program management. As an engineer I gravitate toward the quantifiable, but program management requires much more than that. You have to learn how to deal with different personalities, avoid group-think and manage a team. That’s not something that comes naturally to most engineers and it’s been fun to develop that side of the job.

    FOTF: You mention enjoying the ‘soft skills’ of program management. Are there any particular instances that stand out to you?

    A Stryker equipped with a Mobile Gun System fires a round of high explosive ammunition July 26, 2011 at Yakima Training Center, Wash. Stryker crews with 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, are conducting crew gunnery qualification as a semi-annual requirement. By Sgt. Mark Miranda.

    OATLEY: As an engineer, you’re used to concrete facts and being totally objective—when you’re managing a team and handling many different issues, it can’t always be explained that way. It’s been challenging figuring out how to work with different personalities and to find a compromise between all the stakeholders and do what’s best for the Soldier. Finding a balance has been a challenge. I came in with the perspective of an engineer—very technical. But I quickly realized there are many more constraints. You have to know when it’s important to make a quick decision and when you need to do more analysis. Sometimes you just have to move forward with the best info available at that moment.

    FOTF: Is there any particular challenge you’ve been faced with that really sticks out in your mind?

    OATLEY: On the program side, we’ve had some technical issues that were challenging, but all in a day’s work. Changing the location of the contractor’s production line and subcontractors would be the most significant technical challenge with the program in recent years. It requires additional oversight and there’s also higher risk of damaged equipment. Another challenge was on the personnel side. For a number of years, we didn’t have a consistent government and contractor team due to turnover, retirements, etc. So, each year we had to train new people on the program’s needs. Despite the challenges, we’ve been successful.

    FOTF: Coming into the Army right out of college, what would you say to a student interested in a career in Army acquisition?

    OATLEY: The Army offers more opportunities than you’d originally think. While salary may seem lower initially than private sector, there’s so much more to working in the Army than in a private industry job. And you have a lot of opportunity for personal and professional development that you wouldn’t get elsewhere because the Army makes it a priority and has the ability to support you in that way. So if you think long-term, there are ways you can advance faster than in private industry. In my experience, you also have the ability to move around a little easier and explore areas of interest to you. I’ve been at Picatinny my entire career, but not within the same office. I started at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center working a couple of production programs and after two years, I saw an opportunity in the program management (PM) office and knew that was an area I wanted to pursue. While at the PM I’ve been able to work several programs and even took on a developmental assignment working in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology at the Pentagon.

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

    OATLEY: I joined the Army as a civilian because it meant I would work on extremely interesting programs. Ammunition development isn’t something I was taught in college so it was exciting to learn something so completely different. I also joined because the Army offers a lot of professional development that other jobs weren’t offering at the time. And there was definitely a sense of working for a higher purpose that really attracted me to the position.

    My greatest satisfaction is when I talk to Soldiers about our ammunition and receive their feedback. The most satisfying moment occurred at a conference a few years ago when a young Soldier pointed to one of our bullets and said, “that round saved my life.” That moment really gave me perspective on why we do what we do—everyone who works on these programs should have that interaction. It made me proud to be part of the Army.

    FOTF: Do you have any family history of service?

    OATLEY: My grandfather was a Navy pilot and when he retired, he took a position in Watertown Arsenal, Mass. When Watertown Arsenal closed, he was reassigned to Picatinny, N.J. I never expected to be working here, but that’s where I ended up and it’s kind of funny it worked out that way.

    FOTF: What are your career aspirations?

    OATLEY: It’s hard to say sometimes [chuckles]…but I’d like to be a program manager, which is the path I’m pursuing at the moment.

    Link: http://www.pica.army.mil/MAS/Home.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 »
  • Extending the Global Information Grid network to the company and below

    The advanced capabilities of Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 provide network mobility and reach down to the company level for the first time. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division utilized this WIN-T Increment 2 Soldier Network Extension vehicle (front) during training exercises at Fort Drum, N.Y. on April 19, 2013. (U.S. Army photos by Amy Walker)

    By Amy Walker, PEO C3T

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND (July 29, 2013) — As the U.S. mission in Afghanistan changes and forces conduct more dispersed operations, new tactical communications equipment for vehicles at the company level will help extend the network over vast distances to keep Soldiers connected and commanders informed.

    Currently installed on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicles as part of the Army’s mobile Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 network, the Soldier Network Extension (SNE) will extend the network down to the company level for the first time. With this “extension,” company formations can now be geographically dispersed across large distances, away from their battalion headquarters, and still retain the network connectivity and situational awareness needed to command from disparate locations.

    “Having the SNE down at the company level facilitates the dissemination of real-time situational awareness throughout the entire maneuver brigade combat team formation by restoring lower tactical internet (TI) radio networks, sometimes limited by distance or terrain features,” said Lt. Col. Lamont Hall, product manager for WIN-T Increment 2. “It’s critical to keep those lower TI radio networks connected into the network and ensure commanders can see and understand what is happening on the battlefield.”

    The WIN-T Increment 2 SNE is installed on select vehicles at the company level. It extends the network over vast distances and helps to keep lower tactical internet radio networks connected even when they are blocked by terrain features. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division utilized this SNE during training exercises at Fort Drum, N.Y. on April 19, 2013.

    The SNE’s extension capability will benefit the Army as the U.S. mission in Afghanistan changes to a support role in helping the Afghans secure their country. As coalition forces reduce their presence, forward operating bases and fixed sites once used to access the network are being dismantled. As part of the mobile WIN-T Increment 2 network, the SNE for the first time provides lower echelons with the mission critical network reach-back to the Army’s Global Information Grid, the worldwide set of interconnected equipment and services that enable Soldiers to access the information they need, when they need it.

    The SNE’s Combat Net Radio extension takes advantage of the vehicle’s on-the-move satellite communication (SATCOM) systems to help keep lower TI radio networks connected, even when they are blocked by terrain features such as mountains. It also extends these lower TI radio networks, which include the Soldier Radio Waveform, Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System. The virtually unlimited distance of the SNE’s on-the-move SATCOM capabilities enables select elements to extend their data links as far as the mission requires.

    Positioned at the company level, the SNE can help pass critical information from lower echelons up to higher headquarters, and vice versa. This two-way flow of information provides commanders at all levels with real-time situational awareness, decreasing the time it takes to make decisions and improving the foundations on which those decisions are made.

    The WIN-T Increment 2 SNE is installed on select vehicles down to the company level. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division utilized this SNE during training exercises at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. in June 2013.

    The WIN-T Increment 2 SNE also provides company level Soldiers with advanced collaboration and on-the-move situational awareness tools once only available at higher echelons, providing agility to their operations. Company commanders on-the-move can now collaborate with voice phone calls, hold battle update briefs, access email over the Army’s secret network and exchange planning files and documents. They can also use a chat room, one of the Army’s primary forms of battlefield communications.

    “By giving me [the SNE] you are enabling me to do a lot more work on my own from wherever I am,” said Capt. William Branch, a company commander for 2/1 AD. “Before I had to go to the company or to the battalion [Command Post] to access those services, now I can access them right from my vehicle. Giving me those services is enabling me and my platoon leaders to do a much better job and operate within my commander’s intent.”

    WIN-T Increment 2 is being fielded as part of the Army’s capability sets (CS). CS 13 is the first of these fully-integrated fielding efforts, which are scalable and tailorable in design to support the changing requirements of current and future missions. CS 13 includes radios, satellite systems, software applications, smartphone-like devices and other network components that provide connectivity from the stationary command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. WIN-T Increment 2 is the tactical communications network backbone that binds the capability sets together. The situational awareness and network extension capabilities of the WIN-T Increment 2 SNE provide a vital link to the CS 13 architecture.

    The mobile WIN-T Increment 2 network is being fielded as part of the Army's new capability sets. A WIN-T Increment 2 Point of Presence vehicle was part of a convoy during 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division training exercises at Fort Drum, N.Y. on April 19, 2013.

    WIN-T Increment 2 improves upon the network’s first increment, which began fielding in 2004, by providing Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications, accessible on-the-move. It utilizes both satellite and line-of-sight capability for optimum network connectivity and bandwidth efficiency, and its self-healing capability automatically reroutes blocked links so information gets through. Other WIN-T Increment 2 configuration items include the Point of Presence (PoP), which is installed on select vehicles at battalion and above, and enables mobile mission command.

    A few years ago it may have taken several hours or even days for the brigade commander to see and understand the details that his patrols had seen on the battlefield. But now the commander can talk to his leaders on a conference call while on-the-move inside a networked PoP or SNE vehicle. They can share information and share what they are seeing on the battlefield in real time, said Col. Sam Whitehurst, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 10th Mountain Division (3/10), during recent training exercises in preparation for his unit’s possible deployment to Afghanistan.

    “The quicker and more responsive we are in sharing information, [the more] it allows me to gain situational understanding,” Whitehurst said. “That speed and that ability to quickly share information is critical.”


    Read more »
  • Army adopts stronger, lighter composite materials

    The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Aviation and Missile RDEC Prototype Integration Facility's Advanced Composites Lab is at the forefront of composite repair in Army aviation. In addition to performing the highest quality composite repairs, the PIF Advanced Composites Lab is creating solutions for the broad spectrum of composite needs in Army aviation. (Photos courtesy of U.S. Army)

    By Heather R. Smith

     
    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (July 19, 2013) — In the future, Army aircraft may be made of all composite materials, and the Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) Advanced Composites Laboratory is ready.

    Part of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center’s (AMRDEC), engineering directorate, the PIF’s advanced composites lab has successfully designed and made repairs on damaged composite aircraft components for several years now.

    From research and development to implementation and rapid prototyping, advancing composites technology is one of AMRDEC’s core competencies that enable the current and future force.

    The PIF advanced composites lab is one of several teams at the AMRDEC working with composites.

    Composite materials are a combination of materials that, when combined, produce a new material with characteristics different from the individual components. Examples of composite materials are fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber. Composite materials may be preferred for many reasons, including increased strength, reduced weight, and reduced production and sustainment cost.

    “We have gotten as strong and as light as we can get with metals, and we’re at the end of what metals can economically do,” PIF advanced composites lab lead Kimberly Cockrell said. “The only way to get stronger and lighter and more capable for the fight is to go to composites.”

    PIF leadership recognized a need for advanced composites repair and began developing a composites capability within the PIF mission to provide rapid response solutions to the warfighter. The program includes repair design and engineering substantiation to show that repaired components are returned to original strength.

    Personnel in the PIF advanced composites lab designed and developed repairs for damaged composite stabilators on the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter and the AH-64E Apache helicopter. Prior to their repair method, the only way to repair an aircraft with a damaged stabilator was to pull off the broken stabilator and replace it with a new one.

    Cockrell said the “pull-and-replace” approach was costing the Army up to six figures per stabilator replacement.

    While the first repair procedures were designed for Black Hawk stabilators, the repair method applies to any solid laminate or sandwich core composite structure, so the procedures and training can be leveraged to other Army aircraft.

    Cockrell is proud of the lab’s achievements. Its repair procedures are the first approved repair for primary composite structure on Army aircraft.

    With integral support from the AMRDEC’s aviation engineering directorate, the procedures for the composite stabilator repairs have been written and are undergoing approval for release by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command (AMCOM) logistics center.

    An important aspect of developing repair methods is working with the repair personnel who will make the repairs. Members of the PIF Advanced Composites Lab have been training Soldiers on the new stabilator repair procedures prior to deployment so that they can request approval to use them, on a case-by-case basis, through the Aviation Engineering Directorate.

    The lab has also trained the instructors at the 128th Aviation Brigade, as well as the AMCOM logistics assistance representatives.

    In addition to training, the PIF Advanced Composites Lab, in partnership with the Aviation Engineering Directorate, played a lead role in developing the Army Technical Manual 1-1500-204-23-11 “Advanced Composite Material General Maintenance and Practices,” as well as in defining the tooling and material load for the new AVIM composites shop set.

    The lab is currently working repairs for blades too, as well as just-in-time tooling for parts with complex curves or topography.

    And in addition to repair solutions, the lab is using composite materials to create solutions for other issues. For example, it has designed and built a composite doubler to strengthen the hat channels that extend from the hinges of the UH-60 engine cowling.

    “When the aircraft is on the ground being maintained, the engine cowling folds out to become a maintenance stand,” Cockrell explained. “Two Soldiers can stand up there with a tool box and work on the engine. Unfortunately, minor damage to those hat channels can cause these (cowlings) to catastrophically fail and seriously injure the Soldiers.”

    “We designed this piece so that — if the hat channel shows any kind of damage whatsoever — you can simply install this doubler over the damaged area; it will restore the cowling to its original strength or better, and two doublers — one on each side of the cowling — adds less than a pound to the overall aircraft weight,” Cockrell continued. “So the pound that you add is well-worth the safety margin you gain.”

    It’s concepts like that, Cockrell said, that the lab is introducing to program managers to show how the lab can help with more than just repairing stabilators.

    “Our goal is to transition the stabilator repair business to other sources of supply, because we know that as soon as we get these repairs fully fielded, there will be new structures and composites issues for us to work,” Cockrell said. “The Apache composite tailboom, new composite cabin frames, new composite cabin floors, and new composite blades are all coming down the pike.”

    “In five to 10 years, it’s all composite,” he said. “So whether it’s fiberglass or carbon fiber or Kevlar or a hybrid, it’s going all composite quickly. And it’s important for the Army to be ready.”


    • 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 delivers it.


    Read more »
  • Depot, DLA target excess, dormant material for disposal

    Henry Klimek, rigger worker, DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, checks the readiness condition of military assets held in storage at Tobyhanna Army Depot. (Photo by Kimberly Appel)

    By Jacqueline Boucher

     

    TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — For years, military assets have moved in and out of Tobyhanna Army Depot at the direction of customers from every branch of the service.

    Tobyhanna has partnered with DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, a tenant organization here, since the early 1990s to receive, store and issue a wide range of military systems. Over time, materiel has accumulated in outside storage areas, resulting in rows of excess equipment and dormant stock taking up space that could be used to store new revenue-generating workload.

    Members of a Lean Six Sigma team, representing the depot and DLA, conducted a rapid improvement event (RIE) and earmarked more than 100 items for disposal — an effort that will clear in excess of 48,000 square feet of space—about the size of a football field.

    Military systems are normally repaired and returned to the customer or placed in storage until needed to meet mission requirements.

    “We’re pleased with the outcome of the event,” said Kimberly Appel, process improvement specialist, Productivity, Improvement, and Innovation Directorate. “We’ve got the support of the services buying in and getting rid of dormant stock.”

    Within three years, the Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) has reduced stock stored here by nearly 40 percent, according to Bryant Anderson, CECOM Field Office chief.

    “This was a long overdue event,” Anderson said. “Accurate property accountability records are vitally important in order to make appropriate disposition decisions.”

    He explained that some of the assets targeted by the team were not on record, which made it more difficult to determine disposition.
    The removal of items from the installation is a complex and lengthy process, and it could take up to 18 months to complete. Part of the process even includes other services bidding on the items before disposal.

    Item managers direct the disposition of materiel by submitting a disposal requisition, which DLA Distribution Tobyhanna and DLA Disposition will execute upon receipt. Tobyhanna manages special handling requirements, i.e. hazardous materiel and demilitarization (DEMIL) efforts. All funding is provided by the customer, according to Appel.

    Anderson pointed out that despite everything involved in divesting assets, eliminating unneeded stock from storage is a relatively easy way to avoid extraneous costs.

    Officials here have provided written requests for disposition instructions to individual item managers, along with photographs showing the condition of the assets. Included in the correspondence is a report listing projected storage costs for the next 10 years, estimated costs of disposal, plus the amount of money already spent on storage fees.

    “We’re hoping the customers will agree with what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Arlene Scutt, distribution facility specialist for warehousing for DLA. She noted that the assets identified for disposal are considered major end items — shelters, humvees, vans and cargo trailers.

    The goal of the RIE was to reduce dormant stock and assets found on the installation by 25 percent. The team identified assets for disposal, resulting in a cost avoidance of $255,509.

    “CECOM and DLA Disposition were immediately able to dispose of 7,699 square feet during the Lean event,” Appel said.

    DLA uses supply condition codes to classify materiel in terms of readiness for issue and use, or to identify actions underway to change the status of materiel. When materiel is determined by DLA to be in excess of approved stock levels or no longer serviceable, it uses supply condition codes A (issuable to all customers without limitation or restriction) through H (not serviceable and to be destroyed) and S (not serviceable and to be scrapped) to reflect materiel condition prior to turn-in to DLA Disposition.

    In addition, DEMIL codes are assigned to an item by the item manager when all military presence or function needs be removed from a system.

    “It was great to see the partnership of the two agencies working hard to provide better support to the warfighter,” said Keith Weinschenk, lead process improvement specialist. “Problems were identified as a team and solved as a team.”

    Tobyhanna Army Depot is DOD’s largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna’s missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

    About 3,500 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of CECOM. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command’s mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

    For more information, go to http://www.tobyhanna.army.mil.


    Read more »
  • This One’s for you: The Army Acquisition Workforce takes center stage in Army AL&T Magazine

    ON THE COVER
    Day in and day out, year in and year out, the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Workforce performs feats that superheroes might only dream of. (SOURCE: USAASC)

    By Steve Stark

     

    The best-trained and most well-equipped Army in the world didn’t get that way without a workforce to take care of the acquisition, logistics and technology. That’s why the theme of the new edition of Army AL&T magazine—out now—is “The AL&T Workforce.” It’s dedicated to the women and men who take a concept and turn it into reality. The issue is packed with news you can use in every section, including career development, training and certification opportunities. Some of the highlights are outlined below.

    Faces of the Force
    Where would the Army be without you, the acquisition workforce? Check out the spread of pictures at the heart of the magazine. We have a workforce that does so many things in so many places that we wanted to see and share the stories of the many faces of our force. We had far more photos than we could put in the magazine, so take a look at our Flickr set. Go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usaasc/sets/72157633512678452/.

    Setting the Gold Standard
    The Hon. Katrina G. McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, talks about DOD’s acquisition workforce and concrete steps being taken to improve it.

    Ready for Change
    Ushering in the Global Combat Support System – Army is a complex and careful process that promises sweeping benefits as it brings the Army an industrial-grade enterprise resource management system.

    The Methods Behind the Mystique
    Laszlo Bock, Google’s chief workforce manager, discusses the hiring, retention and professional development philosophies that set it apart.

    Career Corner
    The Career Corner is more than just a corner. It contains stories on career development, certification, and training opportunities, including, this month, “Six Steps to Certification,” and more.

    Army AL&T magazine is the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s quarterly professional journal, comprising in-depth, analytically focused articles. The magazine’s mission is to instruct members of the Army AL&T community relative to AL&T processes, procedures, techniques, and management philosophy and to disseminate other information pertinent to the professional development of workforce members and others engaged in AL&T activities. The magazine is available in hard copy and on the USAASC website – and now in a new app version, available for Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) on the iTunes App Store, Android devices on Google Play, and Amazon Kindle devices on Amazon.

    Army AL&T wants your stories, your photographs and your opinions. For submission guidelines and other information, go to http://asc.army.mil/web/publications/.
     


    Read more »
  • Research analyst named new workforce advocate

    USAASC Workforce Management Division Chief Tom Evans (right) is joined by PEO ACWA Conrad Whyne (left) in presenting an ACMA charter to Diane Bullis, a supervisory operations research analyst who will now serve as an advocate for the acquisition workforce in this $10.6 billion chemical weapons demilitarization program. (Photos by Miguel Monteverde)

    By Tara Clements

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 10, 2013) – Diane Bullis, a supervisory operations research analyst for Program Executive Office (PEO) Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), was appointed as Army’s newest Acquisition Career Management Advocate (ACMA) who will now serve as an advocate for the acquisition workforce among those who support the Army’s $10.6 billion chemical weapons demilitarization program.

    With more than 31 years of federal service, Bullis will serve as a key communications conduit for acquisition specialists assigned to PEO ACWA and to senior acquisition executives in the DOD and the Army.

    The acquisition of material and equipment to build and operate multimillion dollar chemical weapons disposal facilities requires a highly specialized and trained professional workforce. Helping to manage that workforce is newly-appointed ACMA, Diane Bullis, shown here reviewing the charter for her new role. Bullis is a Maryland native with more than 31 years of federal service who will now act as a key communications conduit for acquisition specialists assigned to the PEO, ACWA to senior acquisition executives in the DOD and Army.

    An ACMA is a senior acquisition leader appointed to be a lead resource to acquisition, logistics and technology (AL&T) workforce members as well as Army organizations and commands in many regions that have a large acquisition workforce population. ACMAs are chartered by the director of acquisition career management (DACM), who is also the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for AL&T. These individuals are responsible for command-specific issues and also serve as the communication link between the workforce and U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.

    There are currently 47 appointed ACMAs in 16 locations worldwide.

    Each ACMA is presented with a charter to confirm their appointment. The charter outlines the ACMA’s role and responsibilities to “serve as a principal advisor and assistant to the DACM” as well as “to perform as an advisor to the senior leadership within your command and surrounding acquisition communities for matters related to the execution and management of acquisition career development, policy, procedures and programs.”

    ACMAs were inititated in accordance with the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


    Read more »
  • ACU-Alternate uniform offers more fit options

    By Spc. Danielle Gregory

     

    FORT SILL, Okla. – A new Army Combat Uniform with special consideration to the female form is now at Fort Sill, and it is being issued to new Soldiers going through basic combat training.

    The new uniform, several years in the making, was initially considered as being the first female-only uniform, but instead is now approved for both sexes and is being called ACU-A for Army Combat Uniform-Alternate.

    “We started issuing them slowly in April, and we’ve since been issuing them more frequently as our fitters get more comfortable placing Soldiers in them,” said Trevor Whitworth, central initial issue point (CIIP) project manager, where new Soldiers are first issued their uniforms here.

    “They were initially designed for female Soldiers, but we were told if we find male Soldiers that these would fit better than the ACUs then we can issue it to them as well,” Whitworth said. “It’s more about the fit and the body type.”

    The new uniform trousers feature: wider areas at the hips, waist and backside; elastic around the waistband instead of a pull string; adjusted pockets and knee-pad inserts; and a shortened crotch length.

    In the jackets, changes include: adjusted rank and nametape positioning; adjusted pockets and elbow-pad inserts; slimmer shoulders; a thinner and more fitted waist; and a longer and wider ACU coat bottom. Also, buttons are replacing the velcro pockets.

    “If it makes you more comfortable in wearing that, then I think it’s well worth it,” Whitworth said. “When you’re low crawling or doing a lot of physical training it’s nice to have a pair of trousers that have a little give-and-take in them. I think having made uniforms for a female body type, will make a big difference for female Soldiers.”

    Compared to the original ACUs, which were designed principally by males for males, the new ACU-As were created to fit a wider range of body types and now provides 13 sizes to choose from in both the jacket and trouser.

    “The old uniform was meant to be one size fits five sizes; these are more tailored,” Whitworth said.

    1st Lt. Beatriz George, Reynolds Army Community Hospital dietitian, said she thinks it’s great to have more sizes to choose from. She added when Fort Sill gets the uniforms at the Military Clothing Sales store she will try them on and consider buying a pair.

    “With our uniforms now, it’s like it’s either too tight or too big; it doesn’t feel right as they are now,” George said.

    Although interested in the new uniforms, she said if they were created to be noticeably different, she wouldn’t want to wear them.

    “What’s great about the military is that everyone is equal, and it’s one of the few professions where men and women are paid the same, but if you can’t tell, and they are unisex, then I’m OK with it,” George said.

    Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, the office that develops and improves military uniforms and equipment, developed the new uniforms using feedback provided directly from male and female Soldiers who wore the uniform. This came about after a 2008 focus group of female Soldiers showed PEO Soldier that ACUs have a non-female friendly fit.

    Many females in the focus group reported that the knee-pad inserts fell on their shins, that they didn’t have as much mobility because of the poor fit, and that they felt they had an overall unprofessional appearance.

    Maj. Sequana Robinson, who was one of many that tested the new uniform, said in a PEO Soldier press release that she was very skeptical when first hearing of the uniforms; she didn’t think women needed a uniform more fitted to their bodies, but after trying it on the first time; she was very pleased with the fit.

    PEO Soldier is also in the process of developing a female body armor and female flight suit, which are still in development stages.

    New black and yellow physical training uniforms are also in the development stages, and a new improved duffle bag, which includes a zipper, has just been released and is being issued to basic training Soldiers.

    ACU-As are now available for all Soldiers at posts including: Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Belvoir, Va.; and Fort Eustis, Va., but Fort Sill’s Military Clothing Sales Store does not carry them yet.

    “Clothing Sales at Fort Sill won’t have the uniforms available until sometime near the end of the year,” said Henrietta Haughton, a manager at the Fort Sill Military Clothing Sales Store.

    Although the ACU-A is not yet available for purchase brand new at Fort Sill, Whitworth recommends that Soldiers start coming to the reclamation sales they hold every month. The reclamation sell is where Soldiers can buy uniforms lightly used by trainees who do not complete Basic Combat Training.

    Because the CIIP here just started issuing the new ACU-As in April, Soldiers might start to see a few of these uniforms at reclamation sales starting in August, Whitworth said. He urged Soldiers to get to the sale early, because uniforms go fast.


    Read more »
  • Army scientists research new technologies for rapid, accurate detection capabilities

    The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., evaluated the 3M Clean Trace Surface ATP technology, which met the criteria scientists were looking for: simple, compact and cost-efficient. The device tests for the presence of adenosine triphosphate, which can indicate the presence of a biological agent. Photo provided by ECBC Communications.
    ECBC 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.

    By ECBC Communications

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — First responders occasionally come across suspicious powders, requiring them to have technology on hand to screen samples and identify whether or not they are a chemical or biological agent.

    Current technology performs a test to determine whether or not protein exists on the sample, an indication that the sample is live, or active. With this technology, specificity is low, false positives are common and the cost is very high: one test costs $26.

    Researchers at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, are seeking alternate technology that is more effective and lower in cost. Originally funded by Section 219 funds, an ECBC effort designed to encourage innovative applied research, with additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the team evaluated existing technology to find a device that was close to field ready and determine what it would take to get it into the hands of a Soldier or a first responder.

    The ECBC team evaluated several pre-screening technologies and found that while many could be useful for detecting a biological threat, ongoing issues with low specificity and false positives require additional costly research to determine an accurate diagnosis. During their research of existing technology, ECBC scientists came across a Cara Technology Limited Report (report 30606) which discussed the use of adenosine triphosphate-based technology to look for contamination on food surfaces.

    Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is one of the main providers of energy to cells, and every reproducible organism has it. Historically, it was thought that spores do not have traceable amounts of ATP on their surface, but recent findings have indicated otherwise.

    “This is exciting because it gives us a new avenue to research technologies that can screen suspicious powders much more effectively than what’s currently on the market for first responders,” said James Wright, a chemist with ECBC’s BioSciences Division. “A lot of assumptions were made 50 years ago that aren’t holding up. We’re finding now that we can screen at several orders of magnitude lower than previously thought.”

    One of the systems the team chose to evaluate is the 3M Clean Trace Surface ATP technology, which meets the criteria they were looking for: Simple, compact and cost-efficient. Another key component is that the start-up costs are comparable to that of the current technology, but each test is only $3 a swab. That is 10 percent of the recurring costs of what is currently used, which is a significant long-term cost savings.

    The team will continue to evaluate other ATP-based systems. According to Wright, the goal is identify the right equipment that should be in the hands of first responders or Soldiers, and ATP-based technology could be the best tool to augment what is currently on the market. One of the most significant benefits of the ATP technology is that if a test is negative, first responders know the sample is not a threat. With the current technology, a positive result can occur if any protein is present, even if it is harmless.

    “That’s the issue with the current detector. If it’s an innocuous powder that contains protein, it will still read as positive so you have to shut down the area and send the sample to the reference lab — and the lab or office is shut down for this entire period of time,” Wright said. “Processed or highly refined biological products, like protein powder or powdered creamer, don’t have ATP but do contain protein. So if the ATP test comes up negative, we know that the sample is not active or alive and, from a biological standpoint, we don’t have to worry about it.”

    ECBC submitted a second proposal for this work, recently accepted by DHS, to continue to test the 3M technology against the strict ASTM International standards in a direct comparison to the current technology. The team is hopeful that after this one-year effort, the 3M technology will be fielded to first responders within one to two years.


    Read more »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Project manager’s team takes flight

     

    By Tara Clements

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: With a long legacy of service in his family, Tachias may bleed Army green, but what fuels this leader’s motivation is knowing that the “great group of professionals” he works with are there to accomplish the mission with professionalism and excellence. When I interviewed Col. Tachias, one thing was evident: his sincere passion and appreciation for his team of professionals and the work they do every day to support the warfighter. With more than 24 years of active-duty service to the nation, Tachias hasn’t had a bad day. He views any challenge he’s faced with as an opportunity to succeed, keeping in mind that what he does is in support of the Soldier in the middle of a war zone who relies on superior aviation support to do his or her job.

    As the project manager for the U.S. Army’s fixed-wing aircraft fleet, Tachias is responsible for managing a 20-25 year lifecycle process that includes a litany of responsibilities and support for hundreds of aircraft. To some, that level of responsibility may be daunting, but to Tachias, it’s an opportunity to excel.

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

    TACHIAS: As the project manager for the Army’s fixed wing fleet, I supervise a team of outstanding individuals who provide centralized management of all Army manned fixed-wing aircraft worldwide. The fixed wing team provides life-cycle planning of the fleet, including design, development, qualification, testing, production, sustainment, distribution and logistical support. We’ve been able to grow tremendously from about 70 to 191 people in two years, but there’s a lot of mission that goes along with that—it’s well needed.

    “…every day I go into work knowing that we will overcome any challenges because I have America’s most professional and dedicated government employees and contractors on my team.”

    The Fixed Wing Project Office was stood up in October of 2011. The revelation I had working with the team the past year and a half is how significant an impact that decision was to Army aviation. Our office has gone from managing 256 aircraft at the establishment of the office, to currently supporting more than 382 aircraft comprising 11 missions, 40 different designs, and 73 series. It’s our responsibility to manage the life cycle of this entire fleet and, on average; we look at it over about a 20- to 25-year life span, depending on the aircraft and policy. Maintenance is a priority. We currently have inventory that’s 40 years old and we have a number of aircraft that are aging. At about the 15- to 17-year mark, we start to look at the [procurement] process because it takes time…often years to work through the requirements and funding issues.

    Tachias is pictured just one of the 382 aircraft in the fixed-wing fleet—a Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System (MARSS). MARSS aircraft perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and have directly supported operations in Afghanistan. Courtesy photo provided by the Fixed Wing Project Office.

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

    TACHIAS: I have the best job in the Army! I have great job satisfaction because my team is able to positively influence a process, and I get to see the results make a difference in the lives of our warfighters. In January, members of my team and I traveled to Afghanistan to interact with the Soldiers in the field. We received a lot of positive feedback from the commanders on how my office’s support has improved their readiness and safety. From their perspective, what’s really improved is our responsiveness in meeting the warfighter’s needs now and in the future, and to have aircraft ready for any type of mission—including airworthiness, maintenance, etc.

    From a surprise standpoint, it’s better said that there are a lot of significant challenges we’ve uncovered within the fleet—from an airworthiness and maintenance standpoint. We’ve issued over 200 airworthiness releases in the last year and there’s a lot of work that goes on to make that happen. But, everyday I go into work knowing that we will overcome any challenges because I have America’s most professional and dedicated government employees and contractors on my team.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: ‘airworthiness’ is defined as an aircraft’s suitability for safe flight.

    FOTF: Is there any particular event or instance that really stands out to you that demonstrates the positive impact you’ve had on the warfighter?

    TACHIAS: It really boils down to our mission to support our Soldiers. One particular [aircraft] system has discovered more than 160 IEDs [improvised explosive devices] in just over a year, which means that once we find one, we’re able to have it removed which in turn means that our Soldiers are in a safer environment—essentially, it saves Soldiers’ lives. And it takes a lot of teamwork to do that.

    FOTF: From your perspective, how have things changed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade?

    TACHIAS: I think our [aviation] mission really hasn’t changed—we’re there to support our Soldiers. When I deployed to Iraq in 2004, I served as the Theater Aviation Support Manager primarily to support our Soldiers. I think that we’re trying to lean a little more forward to anticipate the needs our Soldiers may have, and we’ve seen a larger need for Army aviation to ensure we support those Soldiers on the ground.

    Tachias speaks with more than 130 industry partners representing 77 aviation-related companies at Industry Day held on June 12, 2012. Industry day provides an opportunity for government and defense members alike to interact in an open forum and discuss the goals and objectives of the project office. Photo by Tracey Ayers.

    FOTF: What was your worst day as the PM?

    TACHIAS: I can’t say I’ve had a worst day—but I look at things a little bit differently. We’re here to solve problems and I see those problems as an opportunity to succeed. With all of the issues that have come before this office, I can’t say I’ve had a bad day because I have a dedicated, professional team of experts behind me who are capable of working through any issue.

    FOTF: What do you do in any spare time you have?

    TACHIAS: [Chuckles at the word ‘spare’]. I spend it with my family. When I’m not here or on a deployment, spending time with my wife and two athletic teenage sons is a priority. In fact, we’re running a triathlon together in August.

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

    TACHIAS: I am a third generation Soldier. My grandfather served in World War I. My father, a career Soldier, fought in the Korean War and served two tours in Vietnam. He retired after 22 years of service. As a young boy growing up on Army posts and running behind PT [physical training] formations just for fun, I knew being a Soldier was my destiny. I volunteered to serve because my parents instilled in me a great sense of patriotism and the philosophy of service to our nation. My older brother, Michael, who is stationed at Fort Bliss right now, inspired me as well by paving the path to become an Army officer.

    My greatest satisfaction as a Soldier has been to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers and sisters in arms, and with the greatest civilian patriots, as we work together to accomplish the Army’s mission while impacting democracy and freedom worldwide.

    Link: Program Executive Office Aviation, Fixed Wing Project Office.
    Related Story: http://www.theredstonerocket.com/news/article_54116f4a-de5f-11e2-b836-0019bb2963f4.html


    • “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 »
  • Army Announces ACC Senior Leadership Changes

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.—Two of U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC’s) senior leaders have been selected for reassignment, the Army announced June 28.

    Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general (CG), has been selected for assignment as deputy CG for support and chief of staff, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), San Antonio, Texas.

    Brig. Gen. Theodore “Ted” C. Harrison, CG, U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command (ECC) has been selected to succeed Nichols as the ACC CG. The change of command date has not been set. ACC and ECC are both headquartered on Redstone Arsenal.

    “It has been an honor to serve in the ACC,” Nichols said. “The Soldiers and civilians are inspirational in their total commitment in support of our Army. I thank them all for their unconditional support and know they will give Brig. Gen. Harrison the same. There is no better choice to replace me than Ted!

    “I have been blessed in my career to be able to serve our Soldiers and their families and look forward to joining the great IMCOM team so I can continue to serve our Army and this great nation,” she said.

    Nichols became ACC’s first CG on May 17, 2012. She previously served as program executive officer, PEO Soldier, at Fort Belvoir, Va. She enlisted in the Army in 1975 in her home town of Niagara Falls, N.Y. She was commissioned as an engineer officer upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1981.

    Harrison assumed command of ECC in April, 2012.

    “I am deeply honored to have been considered for this critical position,” Harrison said. “I’m very humbled and excited by the opportunity and look forward to helping the command continue its growth and development. Contracting is a key enabler and extremely important to every single warfighting mission.

    “At the same time, it is with a heavy heart that I depart ECC,” he added. “The ECC team is in a great place with very talented and dedicated people. I know it will continue to succeed. I will not be far away and will continue to assist in ECC’s success.”

    Before assuming command of ECC, he was the deputy director, National Contracting Organization, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He entered the Army in 1980 as a distinguished military graduate through the ROTC program at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and was commissioned in the Air Defense Artillery.

    Harrison’s successor has not been announced.


    Read more »