• Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Linking unlikely allies for mission success

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    VERGEZ: I am the first Project Manager (PM) for the NSRWA PMO, which was established three years ago. We field, sustain, and support rotary wing aircraft used by the U.S. military that are not in DOD’s inventory. That includes more than 300 helicopters, including the Russian Mi-17 and the MD530F, used in DOD operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and 38 other countries.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: The NSWRA PMO was established by the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ALT) to consolidate all nonstandard rotary wing aircraft under a single program. Among the office’s responsibilities were to address immediate and long-term safety and sustainment issues for the Mi-17, a Russian-made plan flown by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Col. Vergez recently stepped down from this position, and Mr. Kelvin Nunn, his deputy, is now the acting PM.

    FOTF: What were some of the challenges you faced?

    VERGEZ: One of our first priorities was to establish a direct relationship with Russian equipment manufacturers, and to develop and maintain a standard of support for all Mi-17 operations involving U.S. and coalition forces. As we draw down our troops in Afghanistan, leaving behind a well-supported Air Force is a key part of Afghan security, and the Mi-17 will play a big role in that. The warfighters who fly these aircraft need to know that they’re governed by the same set of safety and airworthiness guidelines that govern our standard aircraft.

    In the past, nonstandard rotary wing helicopters were acquired through third-party brokers. That meant dealing with a lot of different entities and numerous pass-throughs that affected cost, quality, and procurement cycle times. Once our PMO was established, we worked directly with the suppliers, and applied the principles for acquiring standard aircraft to the nonstandard fleet. It represented a pretty significant paradigm shift for all of us. But we’re now seeing it pay considerable dividends: We’re no longer paying across multiple layers of suppliers, so our costs have decreased, and by working directly with the manufacturer, we know that the aircraft meets our safety and airworthiness guidelines.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most? What have you found most rewarding?

    VERGEZ: By far the most rewarding aspect of my work is the strides we’ve made in working with the Russian federation. The relationship is mutually beneficial: we want to ensure that our coalition partners have safe, well-maintained aircraft, and Afghanistan represents a solid market opportunity for Russian aircraft manufacturers. What we shared was a mutual desire to do what was right for our warfighters.

    Throughout the process, what surprised me the most was how similar Russian officials are to us. When I joined the Army, the Cold War mentality was very much alive. But in working with them on this project, I’ve come to see that they have the same pride in their nation and desire to serve their country that we do.

    FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    VERGEZ: My greatest satisfaction is being part of something bigger than myself. I understand that the program we put in place for acquiring nonstandard aircraft will be used to address acquisition and safety problems related to ammunition in Afghanistan. Knowing we’ve left behind that legacy is very rewarding. I’m proud of the work that we did to build this partnership and leave an enduring capability for future generations of Soldiers.

    On a personal level, I’ve been an aviator for 25 years. I love to fly, and like all pilots, I have a passion for safety. So, knowing that our work will ensure the safety of other pilots is also very gratifying.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Home2.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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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Connecting the dots for aviation mission success

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    BECK: I help facilitate all aspects of integrated logistics support (ILS) for the program managers (PMs) and their respective systems and products. Our PMs manage manned and unmanned aviation weapon systems (UAS) and all the enablers that make aviation viable on the battlefield, including air traffic control, aviation ground support, and aircraft maintenance.

    ILS is a process for planning, developing, acquiring, and sustaining well-defined, affordable strategies that meet a Soldier’s requirements for Army materiel throughout its life cycle. Our PMs use ILS as part of the systems engineering process to lower life cycle cost and decrease the logistics footprint, making a system easier to support.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    BECK: Our mission is important because we are involved with the total life cycle systems management (TLCSM) of everything fielded and sustained in the aviation community. To give you an idea of the scope of operations, our fleet includes 16 different rotary wing platforms, 29 types of fixed-wing aircraft, and five UAS — more than 4,000 aviation platforms fielded to Army units.

    TLCSM establishes a single point of accountability and oversight — in this case, the PM — for cradle to grave weapon system acquisition and sustainment. We think of our work as connecting the dots to get the right people together when PMs have concerns they’re trying to address.

    For example, we have a great deal of experience in helping PMs translate requirements into program milestones, or refining budget requests. We also have a lot of contact with subject matter experts who have combat experience and we facilitate conversations so that their hands-on experiences in the field can help PMs resolve any issues they’re facing with their systems.

    FOTF: What has your work experience been like?

    BECK: I’ve been on the job for two years now, and have done a lot of work on an assessment of the impact of the post-9/11 environment on our aviation fleets. We’ve been able to quantify the accelerated or activity-based age of all the deployed fleets by comparing the pre- and post-9/11 operational tempo and damage levels.

    That information can be used by those who develop investment strategies and funding allocations to shed light on how potential cuts could impact aviation fleets. We’ve been able to help reduce the level of some budget cuts by showing the condition of the current fleet and how those conditions might change over time with investments in modernization and sustainment.

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

    BECK: I served with the Military Police Corps and the Aviation Branch. I joined the Army to try and make a difference. My greatest satisfaction is knowing that the mission we perform here at PEO Aviation is helping units in combat by ensuring that they have the best equipment and support possible.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Home2.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 »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Newly minted engineer tracks environmental regs for JAMS

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    INGRAM: I facilitate environmental requirements for programs related to the Army’s aviation rockets and missiles, including the Hydra 70 family of rockets, the Hellfire family of missiles, and the joint air-to-ground missile. I review contract deliverables, statements of work, program plans, and acquisition strategies. I also support Foreign Military Sales customers in resolving questions related to environmental regulations and oversee material release requirements—documentation required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) so that a weapon system can be released into the field.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    INGRAM: Our work is important in making sure that the programs are compliant with environmental guidelines for hazardous materials, mainly NEPA.

    FOTF: What has your work experience been like?

    INGRAM: I first started working here when I was an undergrad, as part of an internship that eventually transitioned into a full-time position. As someone with no military background, I definitely encountered a learning curve. The Army has a language and a culture all its own, and it took me awhile to become fluent in it. But I really enjoy the work I do and the people I work with.

    FOTF: What has surprised you most?

    INGRAM: One of the most surprising things to me was the tremendous support I received in pursuing an advanced degree. My coworkers and leadership encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and were incredibly supportive during that process, providing work schedule flexibility as well as a great deal of moral support.

    FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction being a part of the Army?

    INGRAM: As a civilian, I’m proud to help support our men and women in the field who are putting themselves in harm’s way to benefit our country.

    FOTF: What are some recent achievements?

    INGRAM: I’ve served as the Value Engineering (VE) Team Lead for JAMS since 2007. The VE program aims to identify and implement ideas that provide better solutions at lower costs across all of our systems, processes, and organizations. Our VE efforts have resulted in more economical circuit card repairs for the Hellfire launcher, more durable containers for the Hydra rockets, increased missile availability, and more efficient missile assembly.

    Over the past five years, we’ve saved nearly $150 million while improving the quality of the products we provide, and for our efforts, our team received DOD’s Value Engineering Award in 2011.

    FOTF: What do you enjoy most about your work?

    INGRAM: As odd as it seems, one of the things I enjoy most is the opportunity to do the work that falls outside of my job description: helping with configuration management, reviewing change proposals, or assisting with a technical evaluation. Those tasks really help me understand the different functions here at JAMS and give me insight into how all of our jobs fit together to effectively support the Soldier.

    For more information on JAMS visit http://www.msl.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 »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Acquisition team develops innovative purchasing approach to meet demand and budget challenges

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    JOENS: As an Acquisition Manager, I am responsible for planning and managing procurement activities for PM CAS, Acquisition Category I, II and III artillery, mortars, munitions and weapons systems in the development, production, fielding, and sustainment phases. Given the range of tasks we work with, it’s a complex task.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    JOENS: Soldier safety is paramount in the development and production of our products. We deliver the highest quality, most affordable conventional and advanced munitions and combat power to our warfighters to give them the materiel edge over real and potential adversaries. Our products enable Soldiers to execute their missions with superiority.

    FOTF: What has your work experience been like?

    JOENS: The work has always been challenging. I’ve seen a lot of cyclical changes, such as budget cuts, hiring freezes, and difficulties in steadily growing the workforce. The level of management oversight and review has increased and decreased over the years as well. One of the challenges we face right now is long acquisition lead times. It currently takes two years from requirement definition to contract award. I believe the solution for this, considering decreasing budgets and manpower, is to streamline our processes so we can continue to deliver quality, cost-effective products on time. At the end of the day, though, it has been rewarding knowing I support our Soldiers who defend our freedom.

    FOTF: Why did you choose a career with the Army?

    JOENS: My father was a World War II veteran and career Department of the Army civilian. I also chose a civilian career with the Army because it offered many opportunities and a place where I could serve those who serve our country.

    FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction being a part of the Army?

    JOENS: I am always heartened when I hear positive feedback from Soldiers about the weapons, fire control, and ammunition we provide. Helping them execute their missions and return home safely is my greatest reward. They are the true heroes.

    FOTF: Your team recently received the prestigious Packard Award for establishing and implementing an efficient buying approach for critical ammunition. Tell us a little about the strategy you developed.

    JOENS: The new strategy was developed out of necessity. Previously, we executed basic contracts with four option years to single vendors for products. We saw the effectiveness of that change of approach, especially with all of the overseas requirements and reduced budgets. We exhausted five years of production options within two years to try and fill customer orders for ammunition. To address this, we set up multiple contractors to hold basic delivery order contracts for the products, and now they all compete to meet requirements. We are seeing strong price competition, with the savings being invested in additional products for our Soldiers. We have also added flexibility in meeting required delivery schedules, helping to eliminate single-point failures, and we’ve added some new quality DOD contractors to the industrial base.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: The Packard Award, which was presented on Nov. 2 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, recognizes an organization that has demonstrated superior management and accomplishment in the successful execution of one or more of the Better Buying Power acquisition efficiency initiatives.

    FOTF: What was your reaction to the news that your team had received the Packard Award?

    JOENS: Initially, it was disbelief we had actually won such a prestigious award! Once I knew it was for real, I felt satisfaction. We knew when we started to develop this vision that it would be a long road with many challenges, but in the end, we were able to respond much better to our customers’ needs while strengthening our industrial base.

    For more information on PM CAS, visit http://www.pica.army.mil/peoammo/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 »
  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Soldier uses radio frequency technology to track Army shipments worldwide

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    LEONARD: I recently returned from Afghanistan, where I was responsible for logistical tracking of all Army shipments in and out of the war theater, including Southwest Asia. I managed 221 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) read sites and 477 write sites. RFID tags are powered sensors that are attached to Army shipments, allowing us to track items as they transit through the Defense Transportation System. We have the ability to “write” data on the tags, telling us what the containers hold, and “read” (or scan) them at various locations worldwide. As the lead government representative for PD AMIS in Southwest Asia, I was the liaison between leadership on the ground and our headquarters in Alexandria, Va. I was also responsible for training Soldiers and leaders on the use of the Remote Frequency In-transit Visibility Server (RF-ITV), the system used to track inbound and outbound shipments.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: RFID isn’t new technology; you’ve seen the tags on DVDs and other items you buy. They are being used more and more commercially, and the Army is effectively using the technology to manage its assets. All other military branches also use the Army’s RFID tracking system.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    LEONARD: My job gives combatant commanders and logisticians the capability to track and determine the last known location for their shipments. Previous liaison officers had been posted in Kuwait, but I requested to be posted in Afghanistan because the center of gravity of the war shifted from Iraq. Based on the Presidential mandate to reduce the force to 68,000 troops by Sept. 15 of this year, the PD AMIS program manager decided that the logistics involved in reaching that number and meeting the RFID infrastructure requirements of the combatant commanders warranted a full-time liaison in Afghanistan. Because of the lack of infrastructure in Afghanistan (e.g., roads), I needed to be embedded in-theater to provide government support to the commanders and contractors so all of the logistics tracking could be effectively carried out. By the way, we did meet the troop reduction mandate on schedule.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like?

    LEONARD: I visited all 88 RFID read and write sites in Afghanistan and discovered that they need two things to keep them running: power and communications. Those requirements are crucial so that information can be uploaded via satellites or local networks to the RF-ITV national server. On any given day or time, a number of sites could be down, and trying to keep them running in austere environments at remote locations with little infrastructure and security concerns, is a great challenge. Supporting the field service engineers is critical. There were times when the backlog was serious enough that I had to fly out to a forward operating base to be the liaison between the engineers and the commander. Luckily, we have the finest field service engineers anyone could ask for, and the credit goes to them for doing an amazing job.

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

    LEONARD: I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country and lead Soldiers. My greatest satisfaction comes from knowing I helped improve the operational readiness state of the RFID network in Afghanistan from 95 to 99 percent. That may not seem like a lot, but the Army needs to know exactly where its supplies are at all times. Every operational improvement, no matter how small, contributes to mission success.

    FOTF: What’s next for you?

    LEONARD: Since returning from Afghanistan, I’ve been managing a program to track 14,000 of the Army’s new T-11 parachutes. Believe it or not, Army parachutes have been tracked by individual, hand-written log books since 1943. If an inventory is required, each parachute and log book had to be pulled manually. We’re now automating the tracking system, using passive RFID tags. We’re in the process of capturing all of the historical data in the log books into a database so that future inventory activities will be much more efficient.

    FOTF: Tell us a little about your personal interests and how they dovetail with your work.

    LEONARD: Before I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was going to run in the Boston Marathon. I had run it twice before, and since I wasn’t stateside to participate this year, I decided be a part of the Military Shadow Run in Bagram. I trained every morning with some good runners. The snow and wind were a real challenge along with adjusting to the altitude in Afghanistan, which is 5,000 feet above sea level. The race started at 3 a.m. on April 16, and a few of us got lost and had to run an additional two miles to get back on course, but we finished, and my adjusted time was 2:15. I’m currently on the Army 10-Mile team at Fort Belvoir, Va., and I try to run at least two marathons a year. Physical fitness is one of the Army’s tenets, and this activity keeps me in shape.

    For more information on PD AMIS, visit http://www.tis.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 »