25 years and counting

Army Acquisition Corps coalesces around dedication, professionalism

By Hon. Heidi Shyu, Army Acquisition Executive

 

Shyu,Heidi

“We know that the quality of our people is an essential ingredient to our success as an acquisition enterprise.”—Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton B. Carter

The Army Acquisition mission is to provide our Soldiers a decisive advantage by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the best-equipped Army the world has ever known. Accomplishing that feat requires a dedicated workforce of career civilians and military professionals. This year, we celebrate 25 years of acquisition excellence, marking the creation in 1989 of the Army Acquisition Corps (AAC), the civilian and military specialists who develop and procure the myriad capabilities the Army employs for its mission.

Spc. Jackie Tackett, an automated logistics specialist for the 349th Quartermaster Company, California Army National Guard, drives a rough terrain container handler March 23 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The Army also faces rough terrain as it plans for the future, because of budget uncertainty. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Cupp, 82nd Sustainment Battalion – U.S. Army Central Command Materiel Recovery Element Public Affairs)

Spc. Jackie Tackett, an automated logistics specialist for the 349th Quartermaster Company, California Army National Guard, drives a rough terrain container handler March 23 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The Army also faces rough terrain as it plans for the future, because of budget uncertainty. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Cupp, 82nd Sustainment Battalion – U.S. Army Central Command Materiel Recovery Element Public Affairs)

Led by the Army acquisition executive, program executive officers (PEOs) and program managers, this dedicated team supports the Soldier with the critical systems and services that enable our Soldiers to fight and win our nation’s wars. Along with the larger Army Acquisition Workforce, the AAC is the premier developer of the materiel solutions needed for a strategically responsive force. Our acquisition professionals consistently manage the delicate balance of delivering capabilities while serving as good stewards of taxpayer resources. To celebrate this milestone achievement, we are highlighting the contributions of the workforce in this issue of Army AL&T magazine.

When conceived in the late 1980s, the AAC was envisioned to professionalize the workforce needed to achieve the best value for the taxpayer while fielding the best equipment. Such a workforce would incorporate uniformed personnel to better understand military and operational needs for materiel and services. The AAC was created to bridge generating force processes with the operational force needs it serves, and it has performed this role with remarkable success.

In establishing the AAC, the Army professionalized the Acquisition Workforce, defining career trajectories for military and civilian acquisition workers with clear expectations for education, training, experience and assignments that promote competence and skill among the workforce. As DOD recognized in the Better Buying Power initiative, a professional workforce has been instrumental to success in an environment of constrained resources. There is simply no substitute for informed, rational business judgment at every level of our workforce. The AAC, by design, has expertly exercised such judgment throughout a critical time.

team leader

Annette LaFleur, team leader for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Design, Pattern and Prototype Team, uses a 2-D design program, but she is excited about the possibilities that 3-D printing capabilities hold for her industry and for Soldiers. Quick prototyping with 3-D printing—or additive manufacturing—is just one of many dimensions to the work that the Army Acquisition Workforce does for the benefit of the Soldier and the nation. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

The greater Army Acquisition Workforce has approximately 38,000 members worldwide. It pulls together professionals from across Army organizations, including PEOs, the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Space and Missile Defense Command, Test and Evaluation Command, Medical ­Command and numerous others. Army Acquisition professionals are engineers, scientists, logisticians, contract specialists, testers, program managers and cost estimators, among other specialties.

This broad array of skill sets is necessary to effectively manage the myriad programs, both existing and nascent, that the Army must have to maintain its dominance—and do it all in a budget environment that demands we do more with less. While resources are shrinking, our threats are not. The Army’s research, development and acquisition resources have reached historic lows, and we must maximize the efficient use of these finite assets because our Soldiers are depending on us. The choices we make today will affect and shape the capabilities we provide to future generations of Soldiers.

TARGET - PRECISION

1st Sgt. Justin Rotti, a combat developer from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Fire Cell, Fires Center of Excellence, uses a developmental handheld precision targeting device during a test at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Testing is among the many vital functions that acquisition personnel perform. (Photo by John Andrew Hamilton, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command)

Army Acquisition is emphasizing several goals: First, we’re focusing on long-range planning, making sure that we make acquisition decisions with sustainment costs in mind. We’re also focusing on the quality of our dedicated contracting workforce, professionals who must amass years of experience to be optimally effective. Our science and technology portfolio is another area of focus, as the Army protects its seed corn for future capabilities.

As the Army is called to protect the nation against emerging threats, Army Acquisition will support that mission with advanced technologies, equipment and services. Acquisition must continue to encourage and develop our greatest resource—our people. We are fostering that growth in our workforce with planned initiatives such as tuition assistance, rotations with industry and increased recognition for outstanding workforce members. My personal mission is to ensure that the Acquisition Workforce grows the right skill sets to meet our challenges—and continues for another 25 years and beyond to demonstrate excellence in supporting the warfighter and the taxpayer.

As I celebrate the accomplishments of the AAC, I want to take a moment to recognize and remember one of its most exceptional members. MG Harold J. Greene exemplified the very best of the Army. He was a Soldier of incredible talent, tremendous intellect, and unwavering fidelity and devotion. An officer without pretense, he acted in the best interest of those entrusted to his command, earning the respect of his superiors, subordinates and peers. He possessed a great sense of humor and forthright demeanor. Harry was an American hero who could have chosen many paths in life. But it was his love of country and his family’s legacy of service that led him to join the greatest Army the world has ever known, and he was dedicated to ensuring that our Soldiers are equipped with the very best. He was proud to serve and dedicated his life to the Army.

This article was originally published in the October – December 2014 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

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