• Faces of the Force

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    Unexpected experience shapes a logistician’s career

     

    By Tara Clements

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: Working “above your pay grade”? For Carrie Caldwell Clinard, that phrase quickly became a reality three years into her Army Civilian career when she deployed to Iraq. When she arrived in Iraq, instead of the job she thought she was going to, she was slated for a different position two pay grades above her own and in a different location. She rose to the challenge, finding herself responsible for all logistics functions for an entire base to include transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. Consequently, that leadership experience has had a dramatic impact on her career and how she tackles problems and finds solutions “with a sense of urgency” to ensure our Soldiers are equipped to accomplish their mission.

    No stranger to a challenge, Clinard’s current job requires a great deal of fire-power as a logistics management specialist responsible for ensuring the Army’s principal air-to-ground missile weapon system, HELLFIRE, is maintained and operational for Soldiers and service members alike.

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

    Soldiers sacrifice so much and put themselves in harm’s way continually to protect this country. It is important for us as DoD civilians to do our job and provide them the needed equipment, so they can carry out their missions and succeed on the battlefield.

    CLINARD: Currently, I am a logistics management specialist and manage any spare parts (launcher rails, circuit cart assemblies) needed to fix and maintain the M299 Longbow Launcher which shoots HELLFIRE missiles. The HELLFIRE missile weapon system is used on many aviation platforms, such as the OH-58 Kiowa, AH-64 Apache and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System, Special Operations aircraft and supports not only the Army, but Air Force, Navy, Marine and foreign military sales customers. I forecast and manage the inventory of spare parts, plan ‘spares’ requirements, initiate procurements and track contract deliveries, manage repair programs at organic and contractor depots and many other logistics functions to support and sustain the weapon system. I also work heavily with the RESET team and submit and track their requisitions. When a unit returns from a deployment, this team is responsible for assessing and fixing the weapon system which includes ordering any spare parts required for repairs.

    During her deployment, Clinard worked closely with Soldiers from the Idaho National Guard. Master Sgt. Richard Bailey, 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion, Idaho National Guard served as the Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of the logistics cell working side-by-side with Clinard. Courtesy photo provided by Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

    I feel my job is important because these actions ensure the warfighter receives his/her needed parts to maintain ‘weapon system readiness’ and support their mission. HELLFIREs are used heavily in theater and contingency operations, so it is vital the soldier has the parts available when needed to fire that missile at the target.

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

    CLINARD: I have had a great experience thus far working with the Army. There was a learning curve in the beginning with becoming familiar with Army culture and way of doing business, as well as learning a thousand Army acronyms. However, the career training the Army has provided has made things easier and helped me to learn my job. I’ve even been able to earn my master’s degree through the Army.

    Working here [Redstone Arsenal, Ala.] has provided many opportunities and experiences. I have traveled to various Army installations and witnessed Soldiers using the equipment that I support. In 2011, I had the opportunity to deploy to Iraq and provide logistical support with the drawdown. That was an invaluable experience that I will always carry with me. Although work can get stressful and busy at times, I feel continuously blessed to have the job that I have.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most?

    Clinard and two colleagues from FOB Prosperity gather together at Viejo Lake, a water reservoir by the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq. From left to right: Carrie Clinard, Brian King and Vernell Sample. Courtesy photo provided by Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

    CLINARD: What surprises me most is the dedication and commitment of the Army Civilian workforce to get the job done and support the warfighter. I think my job as a logistician for the Army keeps the fact that we are still engaged in a war at the forefront of my mind; and that’s what drives me to successfully and quickly complete my tasks each day. When an issue arises that affects the field, everyone is engaged and committed to finding a solution. Soldiers sacrifice so much and put themselves in harm’s way continually to protect this country. It is important for us as DoD civilians to do our job and provide them the needed equipment, so they can carry out their missions and succeed on the battlefield.

    FOTF: You mentioned your deployment to Iraq in 2011. What was it like?

    CLINARD: I deployed in support of Operation New Dawn from March – September 2011 and provided logistical support for the drawdown in Iraq working closely with coalition military, contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and local Iraqis. I was located at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Prosperity in Baghdad, Iraq serving as the director of logistics over the base and was responsible for all logistics functions including transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. I was heavily involved with logistics support contracts and initiated new project requests, developed project planning estimates, and assisted with contract development, performance and completion tasks. In addition, I was also the logistics lead at my FOB for Base Operating Support – Integrator which was poised to take over logistics functions from the military as they departed. A part of those functions included facilitating the closure and transition of bases to the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Department of State.

    A Task Force Saber, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade OH-58D Kiowa Warrior patrols the skies near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, March 2, 2012. The Kiowa is the Army's scout and reconnaissance aircraft, often called upon to provide close security for ground troops. The Kiowa is capable of carrying a two-man crew and a variety of weapons, such as 2.75 inch rockets, hellfire missiles (pictured) or a .50-caliber machine gun. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon)

    It was a very challenging and difficult deployment, given the complex missions and the ‘melting pot’ of people, agencies and organizations from around the world I worked with. But, it was also very rewarding to be a part of that chapter in American history. It was a very humbling and a career-changing experience that I will always carry with me.

    FOTF: What was your most memorable day?

    CLINARD: One of the more memorable moments from my deployment is of a barbeque. I worked side-by-side with Soldiers from the 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion, Idaho National Guard for months. Shortly before they redeployed, we got together for a cookout. I remember sitting around the table laughing, taking several pictures and soaking up the moment because I knew I wouldn’t get to see those guys again. It was a rare moment to have some down time. I still keep in touch with a few of them—especially during football season.

    FOTF: Why did you decide to work for the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    CLINARD: I became an Army Civilian in June 2008 after meeting a recruiter and interviewing at a college career fair. I wasn’t even aware of the opportunity to work for the Army as a civilian, especially in Alabama. My grandfather was an Army veteran and I have always had pride in that and had great patriotism for the military and my country. I joined because it was a great career opportunity, as well as a career that I felt had great purpose and fulfillment.

    My greatest satisfaction is knowing that I directly support the warfighter by supplying them with a weapon system that can help achieve their mission, when called upon.

    FOTF: What are your career aspirations?

    CLINARD: I think I’ll stick here. My coworkers poke fun at me because I have a retirement poster on my desk that gives me my retirement date – June 8, 2046. Just a few more years to go!

    For more information on the HELLFIRE Missile, JAMS Project Office or Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, visit http://www.msl.army.mil/Pages/JAMS/default.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.

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  • Faces of the Force

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    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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  • Faces of the Force

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    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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  • Faces of the Force

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    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.

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  • Faces of the Force

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    Project officer manages ‘everything explosive’

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOTF: How did you overcome this challenge?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Read more »
  • Faces of the Force

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    Top-Notch staff fuels success for Apache program

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

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

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

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

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face?

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

    FOTF: How do you overcome that challenge?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    Soldier makes a point of helping somebody every day

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

    SAORRONO: : I am currently the 904th Contingency Contracting Battalion NCOIC at Fort Knox. My daily routine revolves around procuring supplies and services for a variety of customers, units and Soldiers that can range in number from 10 to 100. I’m also responsible for 51C, military contracting and classification training, where I teach individuals acquisition procedures and how to be a contracting officer representative. I also provide contingency contracting unit training. My job is important because I am constantly working to provide Soldiers with what they need, on time, so they can be successful in their different missions.

    FOTF: Tell us about an interesting experience you’ve had on the job.

    SAORRONO: When Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic Coast last year, we were called on to supply Fort Knox’s 19th Engineer Battalion with basic life support as they helped victims in New Jersey. The unit was already in New Jersey when we got the call to help. I immediately started making phone calls to anyone I could think of to find vendors who could supply water, portable toilets and showers, tents, cots to sleep on, the capability to serve hot meals, whatever was needed to sustain the Soldiers during their mission. I was able to quickly locate a vendor with the right capabilities who was already in place on the ground. I ended up driving to Fort Dix, N.J., to manage all of the acquisition needs closer to the field.

    FOTF: What were the challenges associated with this situation, and how did you overcome them?

    SAORRONO: The first challenge was negotiating a price with the vendor. We wanted to use him because he was already on location and had everything that was needed in place, but his price was too high. I quickly did my homework to find competitive pricing and pointed out that he was already there supporting the National Guard, so he did not have to incur any additional set up fees. I was able to negotiate with him to lower his price to meet our cost targets and save the Army some money.

    The greatest challenge, though, was trying to track down which organization was going to fund this activity. That could have been a showstopper, and we didn’t have the luxury of time for that. Working with the battalion, it took about an hour to track down their resource manager at Fort Riley, Kan., who was able to give us the information we needed. We had the contract and the money, so all we had to do then was execute. Within a few hours, the 19th Engineer Battalion had everything it needed. That was a good day’s work.

    FOTF: What’s the payoff for you in doing your job every day?

    SAORRONO: Soldiers have a mission to do. In this particular situation, they didn’t expect the mission, but they knew they had to go out and make it happen. They would have slept on the cold, wet ground without basic necessities if they had to in order to complete their mission. That’s where I came in. It was my job to get them what they needed. Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know what it’s like not to have basic life support while on a mission.

    When a Soldier comes up to me and thanks me for the hot meal or a warm shower, that’s all I need to keep going because I know I’ve helped a fellow Soldier. What motivates me every day is knowing that I’m going to go to work and help somebody. I love what I do.

    FOTF: What motivated you to join the Army, and were there any difficulties you faced as a result of your decision?

    SAORRONO: I grew up in a family full of men, cousins and an uncle, who were all in the military. As a child, I’d listen to them tell stories about their experiences in Vietnam, or what it was like to lose a friend in battle. I decided at an early age that I was going to be the first female in my family to join the Army. I wanted to serve my country, and when I finished high school, I enlisted. At that point, I never thought about college, I could think only of the military.

    The hardest part was leaving my home in Puerto Rico and going to the United States. I didn’t know English very well. I believe that if you want to do something, you have to find a way to overcome the challenges. I wanted to be a part of the Army, and I was determined to go forward with it. I studied English and did extra things at boot camp, like physical training and keeping my bunk clean, to make sure I was on the right path.

    FOTF: What key message would you like to share with others about life and the 51C acquisition career field?

    SAORRONO: Take one day at a time, and work to turn a bad day into a good one by learning from it and making it positive for someone else. Just because something was bad today doesn’t mean it will happen again tomorrow.

    The 51C military occupation specialty provides a good opportunity for your life after the military. It is helping me get my degree, and I plan to go on and earn a master’s degree. This will transfer well to the civilian world, where I can do the same thing to support Soldiers as a civilian employee. If your main goal is about taking care of the Soldier, this is the place to be.

    For more information on MOS 51C reclassification, visit http://asc.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.

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    Passion and past deployments drive Soldier’s development of protective gear

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

    LOZANO: I am currently the program manager for Soldier Protective Equipment. My portfolio includes hard and soft body armor plates and vests as well as combat helmets, ballistic eyewear, concealable body armor, pelvic protection, and traumatic brain injury helmet sensors. Our products are literally the Soldier’s first line of defense, protecting them from a myriad of blast and ballistic threats. What we do saves lives; it doesn’t get any more important than that.

    FOTF: How have your Army career and deployments helped you in your current role?

    LOZANO: I spent nine years as an armor officer and during my previous deployment to Iraq, I remember being on my tank with my gear on and being disappointed that equipment wasn’t upgraded fast enough. That’s what motivates me: I don’t want to be that guy the Soldiers in the field are disappointed in because I’m not providing them with what they need. Since I’ve been in my current position, I’ve been adamant about traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan to interact with our Soldiers in the fight to get a really good feel for what aspects of our gear are working and what aspects need improvement. Constant user interface is critical to this job.

    FOTF: How do you go about developing the right piece of protective equipment for Soldiers?

    LOZANO: There isn’t one cookie-cutter type shape or size that works for the whole realm of Soldiers we serve, and every Solider has strong opinions about what he wears. So we spend a lot of time with them—immediately after upgrades are engineered—to take into account their feedback. We call this the “human factor perspective.”

    We feel like we are in a constant state of improvement, working on a 9 to 12-month cycle that often includes two or three iterative design and upgrade phases. We’re really good at the “bread and butter drill”—design, test, validate. We do this as quickly as possible to continually integrate equipment upgrades.

    FOTF: What impacts you the most about your job on a personal level?

    Lt. Col. Frank Lozano shares a moment with some of his team members during a recent meeting. (Photo by Michael Clayton, PEO Soldier)

    LOZANO: Occasionally, I go to the military medical centers at Fort Sam Houston or Bethesda to meet with what we call “the saves”—Soldiers who have seen treacherous combat and are recovering from injuries. That’s the hardest part for me. When I meet with Soldiers and families who have been through these traumatic events, they tell me they’re honestly grateful for the equipment our team has fielded because they were wearing it and it works. That’s rewarding to hear, but it’s also sorrowful. It grounds me and motivates me to work harder and do everything humanly possible to provide the best equipment possible.

    FOTF: What is your biggest challenge, and how have you overcome it?

    LOZANO: The most challenging aspect of my job holistically is stakeholder management. There are a lot of people involved in body armor processes, from buying and testing to fielding. Managing product timelines with vendors and interacting with Army senior leaders, congressional representatives, and members of the media are also very demanding tasks—this is a real “hot button topic.”

    The best way I know how to handle this is to gather the most reliable data regarding their concerns and communicate in an honest, humble manner. Sometimes, I can’t sugarcoat things. For example, everyone wants body armor to be lighter, so do I, but it takes time to safely mature new technologies that will enable lighter weight body armor. We have numerous developmental programs underway to make this happen. Our body armor today, right now, is absolutely as light as it can be to protect against the family of threats and harsh conditions it is expected to survive, and that’s what I tell them, because protecting the Soldier is of paramount importance.

    FOTF: How has your program been recognized?

    LOZANO: Based on the tremendous work my team has done to protect Soldiers, our Pelvic Protection System won the 2012 Army Acquisition Excellence Award. It was also a 2011 Top Ten Army’s Greatest Inventions award winner, along with our Helmet Sensor Program and Soldier Plate Carrier System. We do everything we can to provide Soldiers with the best equipment the world has ever seen. I don’t mean to boast, but I believe this is 100 percent true. I’ve seen and shot at body armor produced by other countries, and ours is superior, so much so that we are doing some foreign military sales of approved versions of our body armor. Other countries are leveraging the technology we have developed in the United States because they understand that we produce and accept only the best for our Soldiers.

    Watch Lt. Col. Lozano on YouTube demonstrating the Improved Outer Tactical Vest and Pelvic Protection System.

    Read about the 2011 Army’s Greatest Inventions in AL&T Magazine.

    For more information, visit PEO Soldier.


    • “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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    Tracking Career Development

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

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

    FOSTER: I am part of the Acquisition Career Development Division, which has a mission to serve as advocates for the Army Acquisition Workforce on behalf of the Director/Deputy Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM/DDACM). Specifically, I am the Proponency Officer for Contracting, one of 14 acquisition career fields. I am responsible for writing and updating Army acquisition workforce policies and procedures. I also serve as the DACM/DDACM office principal advisor on all matters related to the Contracting Acquisition workforce. As of Dec. 31, 2012, our acquisition workforce includes roughly 8,800 contracting professionals, and I make sure that they have received the training required for certification under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA).

    I also support the Functional Area 51C Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Reclassification Board, providing an Order of Merit List to select best-qualified candidates to serve as Contracting Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs). Our efforts are important because they ensure we have qualified contracting personnel here and in theater so our Soldiers have access to the equipment they need for mission success.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: MOS 51C classification is an acquisition, logistics, and technology designation for contracting NCOs. It was established in 2006 to meet the Army’s increasing need for contingency contracting officers in the modular force. The primary mission for MOS 51C NCOs is to deploy as contingency contracting officers and serve as members of the early entry contingency contracting team.

    FOTF: What’s your biggest challenge? How is it overcome?

    FOSTER: One of my responsibilities is to represent the Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) at Contracting Functional Integrated Product Team (FIPT) meetings, which are held quarterly, and to advise Contracting Functional Leaders on career field competencies, DAWIA requirements, and workforce development. Senior functional leaders designated by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology lead these FIPTs and discuss a variety of topics affecting the workforce. An example of a discussion topic might be whether to add classes to a certification requirement. Service and 4th Estate Agency DACM representatives as well as functional leaders attend the FIPTs as subject matter experts. My role is to ensure the Army DACM’s viewpoint is represented during these discussions.

    The biggest hurdle I face is making sure that I accurately represent the DACM’s point of view at FIPT meetings. It’s my job to ensure that all defense acquisition workforce initiatives and proponency issues are properly vetted, communicated, and addressed with our stakeholders and accurately communicated during the FIPT meetings. To ensure that happens, we hold weekly meetings within our organization to share information and discuss issues, and we closely follow DOD regulations to be sure we are up to speed on issues that affect our mission.

    FOTF: What do you enjoy most about your work?

    FOSTER: I really enjoy the opportunity to help Soldiers reclassify to MOS 51C. This is a very competitive field. The work is challenging and the promotion potential is good. To reclassify, NCOs need to meet a rigorous list of requirements, and to see that work pay off for them is very gratifying.

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

    FOSTER: I coach a junior varsity girls’ basketball team, and so far, we’re having a great season. Our record is 15-7. Both work and coaching involve a great deal of mentorship, and I really enjoy that aspect of it. On the court, I spend a lot of time mentoring my players, and at work we try to encourage Soldiers and civilians to get the most out of a career in Army acquisition.

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

    FOSTER: I became an Army Civilian because I wanted to contribute to the well-being of Soldiers. My greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army is the opportunity to impact the lives of others in a positive way.

    51C applications are being accepted throughout the year. For more information, please visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/military-nco/active-component-reclass-program/.
     


    • “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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    Former Marine Joe Wright brings a positive approach to second military career

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    WRIGHT: I serve as a system acquisition manager and systems acquisition project officer for PD AWS. In that role, I manage the modification requirements for two watercraft systems: LCM8s or “Mike Boats,” which provide utility, command and control, and light transport capabilities; and barge derrick cranes, which move heavy loads like the M1A2 Main Battle Tank from ship transports.

    These capabilities enable the Army’s amphibious and riverine operations and facilitate logistical support to joint operations and campaigns, including joint land operations and intra-theater transport of time-sensitive, mission-critical personnel and materiel.

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?

    WRIGHT: For most of us in the acquisition community, the biggest challenge we face is predictable funding and execution. I’ve found that back-planning is the best way to be proactive to funding constraints. I look ahead 18 months, and plan our modification programs with the assumption that the funds we need will be available. My team and I make sure that everything is ready to proceed with a project once we get the funding we need. If the funding doesn’t come through, I slide the project to the right on the calendar by at least one quarter, and keep moving it back until the funds come through.

    At the same time, I keep a list of several small projects that we need to complete, so that we can capitalize on short-term funding opportunities. We’ll occasionally get a call that we’ve received an amount of funding that has to be used within the fiscal year, for example. We consult that list, and are immediately ready to capitalize on that windfall.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like? What do you enjoy most about your work?

    WRIGHT: My experience working with PEO CS&CSS is similar to my days as a Marine when we worked missions with the Army: the people I’ve encountered are professional and dedicated, and they’re what I enjoy most about my work. Our team includes veterans from all branches of the military, as well as some top-notch civilians, and it’s a pleasure to come to work and know that while we come from diverse backgrounds, we share the same pride in mission accomplishment.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not working?

    WRIGHT: My wife and I have five children and seven grandchildren, and are fortunate that they all live nearby. They all come home for dinner on Sundays, and I spend a lot of my free time babysitting for our grandchildren or helping our kids with home improvement projects at their houses. I recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon with two of my daughters, and in June, all five of my kids will join me in running a half-marathon in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    FOTF: How do your hobbies dovetail with your work?

    WRIGHT: I see my work as an extension of leading a family. As a parent, you set goals for your household and your children, provide them with the tools for success, and watch over them to ensure that goals are met. At work I have a similar role. I work to make sure that we meet our program goals, and provide assets to make sure they are met.

    In both roles, I try to get the best from the people around me. Life is too short to be unhappy at work, so I keep a positive outlook and try to capitalize on the diverse talents we all have to offer.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in serving?

    WRIGHT: I started working as an Army civilian three years ago. The Army has provided me with a great second career and I really appreciate the opportunity to continue serving our men and women in uniform.

    This job has also given me an opportunity to develop and hone a variety of skills, including acquisition management, operations management, and leadership. I enjoy working with the acquisition professionals in PEO CS&CSS and have learned a lot from them, and I’ve been pleased by the mentorship that I have received — it’s a welcome feeling to know that my leadership sees the value I have to offer the Army and is willing to provide the support I need to be successful in my career.

    For more information, visit http://www.peocscss.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 »