By Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bowens, Mission and Installation Contracting Command command sergeant major
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 15, 2014) — As our Army continues its transformation following more than 13 years of continuous war, it increasingly relies on its senior enlisted leaders to advise in the management and strategic development of the most talented and superior Soldiers to serve as the next generation of leaders.
Organizations across the Army necessitate their leaders possess the strategic knowledge and discipline necessary to carry out their missions while implementing force structure changes. As stewards of our resources, today’s senior enlisted leaders must be innovative in setting conditions for the future while at the same time expanding their levels of influence beyond the commands in which they serve.
I had the fortune of joining the Mission and Installation Contracting Command in January following my assignment as a command sergeant major with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. The 51C contracting military occupational specialty is relatively new and was established in 2006, but I quickly discovered that I’m surrounded by some of the brightest senior non-commissioned officers in the Army who are proven leaders.
In addition to carrying out policies and ensuring standards are met or exceeded, command sergeants major and sergeants major in the 51C MOS bring an intellect and unique set of leadership skills to the Army. They are decidedly competent, committed to the profession of arms, and of the highest character.
Acquisition senior enlisted leaders interact daily with leadership at all levels from across the installation and regionally supported activities to ensure Soldiers have the goods and services necessary to perform their jobs and accomplish the mission. The skills and experience gained from a thorough understanding of acquisition legal considerations, source selection, government property management, contract costs and negotiation analysis directly apply across multiple aspects of the Army mission and role of a leader.
They challenge conventional thinking by finding innovative solutions to meet the mission. It is through their experience as a 51C that senior acquisitions NCOs have honed the critical leadership skill of business acumen, adding a valuable dimension in the decision-making process that surpasses many of their peers.
They possess education and certification that parallel the industry. The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act outlines core standards in acquisition and functional training as well as education and experience for contracting certification in order to execute contracts on behalf of the government. Certification includes attaining a bachelor’s degree with 24 semester hours in any of the business disciplines as only an initial step.
The level of education and training required by senior enlisted leaders in the 51C MOS is among the most stringent in the Army. DAWIA Level III certification in contracting translates into having executed some of the most complex contracts valued in the multi-millions of dollars on behalf of organizational leaders resulting in mission achievement.
The depth of leadership skills by command sergeants major and sergeants major in the 51C MOS is also matched by a breadth of experience. Senior enlisted 51C Soldiers are among the service’s best and have cultivated their knowledge from a multitude of career fields. They are battle tested from multiple deployments and leverage this knowledge through reflective, focused experiential learning with Soldiers. It is through this career-long synthesis of professional training, education and experience in both the institutional and operational Army that senior NCOs in contracting have emerged as leaders whose place alongside Army senior commanders is overdue.
Today’s Army demands enlisted leaders who are at the top of their profession and finding the right enlisted leaders to fill the right positions — 51C Soldiers are resilient, confident and ready to lead at the highest levels within our Army.
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