Army AL&T magazine is USAASC’s quarterly professional journal, comprising in-depth, analytically focused articles. The magazine’s mission is to instruct members of the Army AL&T community about AL&T processes, procedures, techniques and management philosophy; it is also to disseminate information pertinent to the professional development of workforce members and others engaged in AL&T activities.
Technical Manuals That Work
Logistics demonstrations ready a suite of tools to improve the Army’s tactical network by inviting Soldiers to test the supporting documents in the fielding package. by Lt. Col. Mark Henderson Have you ever gotten frustrated trying to follow inaccurate or confusing directions while troubleshooting your home network? You may feel like tossing the directions and your computer right out the window. Now imagine troubleshooting with ambiguous directions under enemy fire, with your commander standing over your shoulder impatiently waiting for you to get his critical network connection up and running. On the battlefield, clear and accurate technical manuals can be just as important as the capabilities they support. The Army conducts logistics demonstrations (“log demos”) in part to prevent stressful scenarios like this one. Log demos evaluate and validate the adequacy of system support packages, including training and technical manuals, as part of the acquisition sequence of events when fielding a new capability, or when an existing capability has been significantly enhanced. Log demos reduce fielding risk and Soldier burden by ensuring that units have the logistical capability needed to successfully operate, maintain and troubleshoot the system in the field. Operational readiness is one of the Army’s top priorities, and strong sustainment packages directly support this critical goal. Additionally, as the Army continues to reduce reliance on contracted field service representative (FSR) support to improve efficiencies, strong system support packages become increasingly important to help fill that void. FSRs troubleshoot, mentor and provide training in both training and field environments, but the Army is moving away from this expensive external support toward a model defined by more organic unit accountability for system sustainment. SECURING WI-FIA Delaware Army National Guard 198th ESB Soldier begins tearing down the network stacks used to support secure Wi-Fi capability inside a command post during the WIN-T log demo in February at APG. After the log demo, technical writers updated user manuals with the Soldiers’ feedback and will continue updating them throughout the life cycle of the product. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs) Project Manager for Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (PM WIN-T), the Army’s tactical network program office assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T), conducted a successful Soldier-supported log demo for several expeditionary network signal modernization (SigMod) capabilities that are not programs of record at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland, in February. These new tactical network transport systems provide high- bandwidth network connections in small, easy-to-deploy packages. Soldier feedback and results from the log demo will support pilots and material release requirements and will provide additional confidence in the subsequent fielding of these expeditionary network systems. “Never underestimate the complexity of simplicity,” said Sgt. Lawrence Seeman, who operates and maintains WIN-T Satellite Transportable Terminals for the Delaware Army National Guard’s 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB), which supported the SigMod log demo. “It’s the little things, the simple things, that can create a more complicated problem. We are helping to point out any deficiencies in the technical manual so [PEO C3T] can make it more streamlined, functional and easy to follow.” NETWORKING AN AGILE FORCE PM WIN-T delivers a powerful “tool kit” of expeditionary line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight network capabilities to every echelon and at every stage of operations. In addition, the PM will soon field six SigMod capabilities to augment and expand the transport capability of the tactical network. These capabilities will deliver expeditionary network communication for early-entry units and units at the farthest tactical edge of the battlefield, while reducing size, weight and power needs for increased agility. The SigMod log demo included four specific SigMod capabilities: Commercial Coalition Equipment (CCE); the Modular Communications Node-Advanced Enclave (MCN-AE); Secure 4G LTE and Secure tactical Wi-Fi. These expeditionary network technologies modernize and extend the Army’s tactical network. Once fielded, they will provide significantly increased capability in small deployable packages that Soldiers can set up and tear down rapidly for improved unit agility, enabling units to apply this new technology where the enemy will least expect it. The SigMod tool suite includes the versatile CCE, which is packed in an easy-to-deploy, suitcase-sized transit case. The CCE provides secure expeditionary network connectivity for coalition, non-secure internet protocol router, secure internet protocol router and commercial networks. It can be reconfigured rapidly to provide secure tactical access to the coalition or commercial network to support both civil and military operations. Additionally, CCE provides a radio bridging voice cross-banding capability that enables radios on different frequencies, or different equipment like radios or cellphones, to connect seamlessly to one another. This is essential in domestic humanitarian disaster response or coalition operations where countries and organizational entities each use different equipment. BREAKING IT DOWN, FASTA Soldier from the Delaware Army National Guard’s 198th ESB breaks down commercial coalition equipment during a PM WIN-T logistics demonstration in February 2017 at APG. The expeditionary tactical network technologies at the center of the log demo are designed to provide significantly more capability in small packages that Soldiers can set up and tear down rapidly. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs). The MCN-AE uses the same network-agnostic hardware as the CCE, reconfigured to enable intelligence users to connect to all the same resources they would typically expect when using the Army’s separate intelligence network, in this case using a unit’s organic WIN-T tactical network equipment instead. The MCN-AE is significantly smaller than the tactical elements of the Army’s separate Trojan SPIRIT intelligence system (a large truck and trailer) and can be used to augment the intelligence community in areas where the standard equipment is not available. Secure Wi-Fi uses National Security Agency-approved “commercial solutions for classified” capability to provide secure classified and unclassified Wi-Fi inside the command post. Going wireless can reduce command post setup and teardown times by hours and reduce the amount of cable with protective flooring that needs to be transported from location to location. It can also untethered Soldiers from their workstations for improved collaboration. Most importantly, it reduces network downtime significantly. Units can turn on their Wi-Fi hotspot and see the network come up first instead of last, in minutes instead of hours. Soldiers can stay connected longer when relocating their command post. The secure 4G LTE capability will support a larger footprint surrounding the command post. This technology will extend the communications flexibility and reduce the weight Soldiers carry as they transition from bulky radios to smartphones. The WIN-T SigMod tool suite also includes the easy-to-deploy, high-bandwidth terrestrial transmission line-of-sight radio and the range-extending troposcatter transmission capability, each of which will have separate log demos. All of the SigMod capabilities are designed for simplicity, to make it easier for Soldiers to set up, operate, troubleshoot and maintain. As the Army continues to shrink the number of FSRs in the field, reducing system complexity is key to enabling units to support their own network systems. THE HUMAN FACTOR PM WIN-T specifically chose Soldiers from the 198th ESB to support the SigMod log demo in February not only because of the unit’s close proximity to APG, but more importantly, its previous exposure to the SigMod systems as part of a Disaster Incident Response Emergency Communications Terminal (DIRECT) risk reduction event in August 2016. DIRECT leverages the National Guard’s organic WIN-T tactical network equipment together with some of the new SigMod capabilities to link first responders and emergency managers with state and federal authorities during natural disaster, emergency and civil support operations. PM WIN-T will field DIRECT to all states and territories with a National Guard presence. The capability is expected to be fully fielded by 2025, and pilots are underway. The SigMod log demo supports the Army National Guard DIRECT fieldings as well as SigMod fieldings to active Army units in support of military contingencies and humanitarian efforts around the world. MAKING CONNECTIONSSoldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division support a secure Wi-Fi pilot during their National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, in April. Log demos ensure that units have the logistics capability they need to operate the system successfully in the field. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs) U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command capability managers also supported the log demo to ensure that the training and technical manuals provide optimal support to units in the field. Providing solid new equipment training and ensuring that Soldiers remain well-trained throughout a product’s life cycle are vital to the success of any system, and the new expeditionary SigMod capabilities are no exception. The log demo team also included representatives from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command’s Directorate for Safety, who provided system safety releases. Safety requirements and specifications are critical elements of quality assurance both for the execution of the log demo and to ensure proper operation of the capability in the field. Additionally, since these are commercial off-the-shelf products, industry was on site during the log demo to provide support and insight, as were Army technical writers to help make corrections to the technical manuals and ensure clarity and functionality in the language and graphics. SETTING THE STAGE FOR FIELDING SUCCESS In September 2016, months before the log demo, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition policy and logistics hosted the operational sustainment review (OSR) for PM WIN-T’s Increment 1 product manager, which manages the SigMod capabilities. Preparation for this intensive logistical review took approximately nine months. The information learned before, during and throughout the OSR helped to reinforce and shape improvements to the sustainment strategy and acquisition approach. As part of the SigMod log demo, Soldiers received refresher training on the various capabilities to ensure their optimal participation and feedback during the event. Next, they relied on the training and technical manuals to set up the equipment, link to the satellites, and to operate, troubleshoot and tear down each of the systems. Along the way, the Soldiers provided feedback to clarify and correct discrepancies in the technical manuals and ensure that they were functional. The PM WIN-T log demo team purposely introduced faults into the system, at varying levels of difficulty. The Soldiers were able to follow the troubleshooting guide in the manuals to fix the issues successfully while offering feedback on how to improve or simplify the steps, language, flow charts and graphics. The trained Soldiers pointed out discrepancies in the technical manuals that could trip up a busy user in the field, such as an instance in the troubleshooting flow chart that pointed the user to the wrong place. Another discrepancy was caught in the technical manual of the 4G LTE system when the team inserted a fault into the system that required a system restart. The technical manual did not state that after fixing the fault, users should wait 10 minutes before restarting—allowing the host server to communicate to the other server any changes to the hard drive to ensure that all the information is saved properly. ENABLING MISSION COMMANDThe Army’s tactical network leverages WIN-T equipment to enable mission command, situational awareness and secure reliable voice, video and data communications, both on the move in tactical vehicles or inside a command post such as this brigade command at Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 at Fort Bliss, Texas, in October 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs) The log demo team was also able to provide information on setup and teardown times, and how fast Soldiers were able to identify and correct issues. Going through the technical manuals sentence by sentence, word by word, may seem like a lot of extra work, but it can make the difference between a successfully supported system and one that is not. “It is important that we test the systems thoroughly so the technical manual works the way it’s supposed to work, and if capability does break in the field and Soldiers have to use the technical manual to troubleshoot it, they can get it to work without any problems,” said Sgt. Justin Diamond, senior WIN-T Joint Network Node operator for A Company, 198th ESB. After the actual log demo event, technical writers updated the manuals with the Soldiers’ feedback. After fielding the capabilities, PM WIN-T will continue to update the manuals throughout each product’s life cycle. Soldiers can request changes or email questions to the PM on items they think may need clarification. Units will have digital access to the manuals, which is more secure and efficient than fielding hard copies and will enable the PM to provide continual updates to the manuals. CONCLUSION Log demos may not sound very glamorous, but they play a critical role in the acquisition process and the successful fielding and support of Army capabilities. They reduce fielding risk, increase efficiencies and provide confidence in capability support packages. The expeditionary SigMod suite of equipment will modernize the network and significantly increase operational flexibility. The WIN-T SigMod log demo reinforced the fact that, having fielded these agile network capabilities, the Army will be able to maintain and support them using the established support package. “Having us go through the equipment, the training manual and the troubleshooting definitely helps, because Soldiers are the ones using this equipment, so it should be based on our input and not [solely] on that of engineers,” said Sgt. Gina Mazzola, network operator for the 198th ESB. “I appreciate that we had a say in the improvement of these capabilities, especially since it supports our brothers and sisters in arms.” For more information, go to the PEO C3T website at http://peoc3t.army.mil/c3t/, the PM WIN-T website at http://peoc3t.army.mil/wint/, or contact the PEO C3T Public Affairs Office at 443-395-6489 or usarmy.APG.email@example.com. COL. MARK HENDERSON is the product manager for WIN-T Increment 1. He holds an executive MBA with emphasis in information systems management and a master of education with emphasis in counseling and psychology, both from Troy University; and a B.S. in political science and government from Kennesaw State University. He is Level III certified in program management, with master’s certificates in lean six sigma, negotiations, expert selling, applied program management and advanced program management. He is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps. This article is scheduled to be published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Lessons for the Long Haul Integrating Army Medicine Life Saving Life Cycle Management A Glimpse From Above
Meeting Global Demand
The Army’s new director of operations at the Rapid Capabilities Office arrived at his post from the Army’s Talent Management Task Force. He discusses how the Army views, gets and keeps the talent it needs. by Ms. Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Maj. Gen. Wilson “Al” Shoffner Jr. After spearheading the Army’s Talent Management Task Force since May 2016, Maj. Gen. Wilson “Al” Shoffner Jr. joined the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) as director of operations in April. At first glance, there may not seem to be an obvious link between his former assignment and his new one. After all, one is focused on maximizing individual capability to meet Army personnel needs, while the other is focused on expediting critical technologies to the field to counter urgent and emerging threats. Yet a closer look suggests comparisons. Both entities were launched to provide a “bridge” between what is existing and what is needed so that the Army can meet the nation’s current and future security demands. For the Army’s Talent Management Task Force, this work centers on integrating and synchronizing efforts to create a more deliberate talent management system. The task force knows that the Army must evolve rapidly from an industrial-age personnel system to keep pace with today’s best practices. In much the same way, the RCO rejects a one-size-fits-all approach to modernization. Recognizing that today’s threats are evolving faster than the traditional acquisition process can often support, the RCO is tailoring solutions and delivering prototypes to the field. By using prototypes, the Army can focus capabilities as small-scale, threat-driven projects that it can deliver to Soldiers for rapid deterrence and feedback. Maybe the capability helps evolve a program of record for the full Army, or maybe the Army moves on to a newer, better technology. Either way, it knows quickly in which direction to move, and it can move faster. With only a few days in as RCO director of operations, we asked Maj. Gen. Shoffner if he would be willing to share his insight into talent management as well as his expectations for the RCO. Without hesitation, he took the opportunity to bridge the two communities and introduce himself to the world of acquisition. Nancy Jones-Bonbrest: You came to the Army Rapid Capabilities Office after serving as director of the Army’s Talent Management Task Force, and as part of a long operational career. How has your previous experience shaped your view of Army acquisition? Shoffner: I’ll answer that question in two parts. For the first, I’ll reflect back on some of my operational experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that over the past 15 years, we as an Army have been focused on winning the current fight, and during that period of time our [traditional] adversaries [e.g., Russia, China] have taken advantage of our focus being elsewhere. They have started to develop capabilities that really get at our core strengths. Also, over the past couple of decades, the rate of change for technology has increased. It’s not just Moore’s Law, where every 18 months the processing power doubles—it’s even faster than that. And so if you think about those two factors taken together, that’s what has resulted in us being in the situation we are in now, where there are some gaps between what we need to be able to do and what our adversaries are able to do. So the Rapid Capabilities Office has been established to help mitigate those gaps. We also have to do more than that; just closing those gaps is not enough. We’ve got to make sure we don’t find ourselves in this position five, 10, 20 years from now. Fundamentally, on talent management, what we are trying to do is move from an industrial-age system where we looked at people as interchangeable parts to a modern, 21st-century system where we are managing individual talent. One of our strengths as a nation for so long has been our ability to innovate and innovate faster. So as it relates to the acquisition community, we are looking to people who have that innovative spirit and who can help us figure out how to close those gaps in short order without having to wait seven to 10 years to field a new system. That’s why, with the Rapid Capabilities Office, what we are looking to do is to prototype systems to get them out there very quickly, to get them out to exercises and learn from those experiences so we can make adjustments and field the systems as quickly as possible. RIGHT SOLDIER, RIGHT JOB, RIGHT TIMEShoffner’s experience leading the Army Talent Management Task Force informs his approach to the challenge of getting Soldiers what they need quickly. Just as the Army’s talent management strategy aims to identify, attract and keep people who are innovative and can help the Army close capability gaps sooner rather than later, the RCO seeks to prototype systems and quickly test them in operational exercises and then adjust the systems accordingly before fielding them to Soldiers. (Image courtesy of Army Talent Management) Jones-Bonbrest: What did you learn at the Army’s Talent Management Task Force that can be applied to the Army Acquisition Workforce? Shoffner: I’ll start with how we define talent in the Army. We don’t see talent as one single thing that you can put your finger on. It’s the combination of a lot of things—it fundamentally is the combination of an individual’s knowledge, skills and behaviors. Key to this, though, is that these are shaped over a lifetime. It does include experiences people have in the military, but also includes all the experiences they have outside the military: where they went to school, where they grew up. It’s what their hobbies are, what they are passionate about, how they think. The thinking part is really, really important. Obviously we can measure cognitive ability. We have tests, assessments that get after noncognitive ability, but what we are really looking for are people who are critical thinkers, people who are innovators and people who have nonlinear problem-solving skills. As you think about the acquisition workforce, we know those skills and talents are out there. In some cases, it may not be someone who is a DA civilian, it may not be somebody wearing a uniform—it may be talent in industry that we are trying to seek and trying to leverage. Part of the challenge with that is, with all our databases and all of our systems, we don’t directly see the talent that is in industry, but that’s why industry partnerships are so critical. And not just with the big defense companies, either—smaller companies also have a role. And sometimes the smaller companies could offer a capability faster than some of the larger ones can. There is a caution there as well. We don’t want to blindly mimic practices in civilian organizations or in private practice that may not fit the Army’s unique cultural requirements. That is again one of the things the Rapid Capabilities Office is going to help to do, be that bridge with industry and the operational part of the Army. Jones-Bonbrest: How is Army talent management changing? What were some of the new approaches the task force tried? Shoffner: The Talent Management Task Force has existed for about 18 months now, and we were starting to pilot a few of the initiatives. One example is a pilot we are about to begin for the cyber workforce. We are actually looking to do a pilot for direct commissioning and bring folks on wearing a uniform to work in our cyber force. This may be folks who are just a few years out of college who already have some experience, and it may be folks who are toward an end of a civilian career. We want to be able to leverage the talent that’s out there throughout the range of experiences. We also want to be able to compensate them appropriately. This direct commissioning authority that was given to us in the last National Defense Authorization Act gives us that for the first time. We are really excited about it, and we’re going to push this pretty aggressively. The goal is to find those folks, to select and hire them, and get them into the training base sometime later this year. We also tried something fairly innovative where we took a Soldier who was separating at the end of the first term of enlistment, and we brought him on as a DA civilian, a GS-13. Why? We did this because the Soldier wanted to continue to serve, he loved what he was doing and he didn’t want to re-enlist, but he did want to continue to serve and help the team. By bringing him on as a GS-13, we were able to pay him reasonably well and ideally keep him for a career, not just the next term of enlistment. So to me that’s a win in the long term—Soldiers no longer wearing a uniform but still on the Army team. LOOKING OVER THE HORIZONSoldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division scan for potential enemies during Decisive Action Rotation 17-02 at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California in November 2016. (Photo by Spc. Michael Crews, National Training Center Operations Group) Jones-Bonbrest: Do these initiatives apply to the civilian workforce as well, especially in today’s uncertain global security environment when the Army can’t afford to lose top talent? Shoffner: Some of the things we are learning in other career fields—for example, in cyber—we’ll look for applicability across the workforce. The Acquisition Corps has one of the largest civilian workforces across the Army, and it’s critical we get this right. Looking at talent management across the Army, we’re a little bit ahead on the military side compared to the civilian side. There are some legislative proposals that may come through that would change that somewhat, but whether or not those legislative changes occur, we still have to figure out how to better manage our civilian workforce. I know the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower & reserve affairs looks very closely at this; they started a civilian workforce transformation effort. We’re looking at some other cohorts across the Army to see what best practices we might be able to adapt. One of the ideas we embrace is this idea of timeline flexibility. We do have the law on the military side, the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act. Obviously many laws govern our civilian workforce, but for both military and civilians, we are trying to figure out how we can allow for some more flexibility. That might be things like allowing folks greater flexibility for education, allowing them time to take a break and do something different, then come back to the workforce. Similarly, some of our former military who are now in the civilian workforce, we’ll look to bring them back—and it could be bringing them back wearing a uniform or bringing them back as a DA civilian. That ties into the whole “Soldier For Life” idea, that we want this interconnected network of current and former Soldiers who all talk to one another, they talk to industry, they are all sharing ideas and thoughts and looking for opportunities to help one another. Jones-Bonbrest: What are the next steps for the Talent Management Task Force, now that you have moved on to a new assignment? Shoffner: Another big milestone for us will be the implementation of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A), which will actually be fielded first with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in the summer of 2018. We’ll have a full capability there by 2021. IPPS-A is really important. It does three things for us: It’s a total Army approach with active, National Guard and Reserve; it gives us that talent management capability; and it also gives us auditability. IPPS-A combines 30 different stand-alone data systems, and if you think of what just happened with [the pay controversy at] the California Army National Guard, I think that’s a great example of something we can’t afford to have fail. Jones-Bonbrest: The Rapid Capabilities Office is still fairly new, having been stood up less than a year ago to rapidly deliver prototype capabilities to counter urgent and emerging threats. What are your goals for the office? Shoffner: Looking forward, we’re going to leverage currently planned exercises—the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 17.2 at Fort Bliss, Texas, this summer will be a big one for us—to get Soldier feedback on urgently needed capabilities. We’ll also be looking at exercises in Europe as opportunities to get some of the prototypes out, especially with regard to electronic warfare. Positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) will be another one that we will put a lot of emphasis on between now and the spring of 2018. Those operational assessments and rapid fieldings are the methods we’ll use to accelerate these prototypes to parts of the world and units out there where we can close those gaps and ultimately deliver overmatch. The other parallel effort is the Emerging Technologies Office, which is within the Rapid Capabilities Office and specifically focused on emerging technologies. They look to find those potential gaps and stop them from forming, so we make sure we are not surprised in the future. Jones-Bonbrest: Is there anything about Army talent management that surprised you the most when you first got there, or that most people don’t know? Shoffner: Yes. I think most people think of it as military-officer effort only. It’s not. It’s military and civilian. It is officers, warrant officers and Soldiers. Some people think it’s really about taking care of your best, and that’s talent management. It does include that, but it’s truly much more than that. It’s about maximizing the ability of everyone to contribute in a meaningful fashion. So if I had a bumper sticker it would be: “Right Soldier, Right Job, Right Time.” Jones-Bonbrest: What’s the bumper sticker for the Rapid Capabilities Office? Shoffner: Bringing technology to bear before you know you need it. For more information, go to http://rapidcapabilitiesoffice.army.mil or email the Rapid Capabilities Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Army Talent Management Task Force, go to https://www.ipps-a.army.mil/army-talent-management-task-force/. MANAGING CAPABILITY AND TALENTSoldiers from Field Artillery Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct new equipment training on the Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) Mobile Integrated Capability at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. The training, conducted in February and March, put rapidly produced prototypes into the field to close capability gaps of the kind targeted by the Army RCO. (Photo by Sgt. Devon Bistarkey, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs) NANCY JONES-BONBREST is a staff writer for Data Systems Analysts Inc., providing contract support to the Army Rapid Capabilities Office. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has covered Army modernization for several years, including multiple training and testing events. This article is scheduled to be published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: A case study in acquisition centralization DRIVING SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS Then and Now – Carlucci Initatives Acquisition Reform Baked-In
Building a Love for Math and Science
RDECOM’s STEM outreach program targets students from kindergarten to college by Ms. Argie Sarantinos-Perrin Knocking down a stack of blocks, then backing up to switch directions, a robot effortlessly moves around a local school as a group of children watch and wait for their turn to operate the remote control. The children marvel at the hodgepodge of whirring motors, nuts and bolts, the culmination of their hard work in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) robotics competition. Through STEM experiences, competitions and research apprenticeships, the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)—managed by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) on behalf of the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology—offers an array of educational opportunities for children from kindergarten through college. As a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, RDECOM is working with AEOP and its academic and industry partners to develop the workforce of the future. “Even if students don’t go into a traditional science or mathematics field, formal and informal STEM education helps children develop problem solving and critical thinking skills that will help them in any career field,” said Louie Lopez, chief of RDECOM human capital planning and development and STEM education outreach. “One of our goals is to get children excited about math and science, beginning in kindergarten, so that it will hopefully carry through high school and into college.” SPLASH, ZOOMAlfredo Ramirez, a volunteer from the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, helps Ayrika Anderson from White Station Middle School, Memphis, Tennessee, at a recent eCybermission event. Army volunteers are key to the success of the AEOP—in 2016, more than 800 helped mentor competitors and judge solutions to community problems in the “world’s largest online science fair.” (Photo by Conrad Johnson, RDECOM) According to the 2015 results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), students in the United States scored 496 in science literacy—lower than 18 education systems worldwide. Students in Singapore had the highest score, 556, and the Dominican Republic the lowest, 332. The PISA, which is administered to 15-year-old students every three years, evaluates education systems worldwide in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy. More than a half-million students in 72 countries took the two-hour test in 2015. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which promotes economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development, sponsors PISA. Mathematics literacy is even lower for students in the United States. Students scored 470, placing them squarely in the middle, below 36 other education systems. Students in Singapore again earned the highest score, 564, and students in the Dominican Republic again had the lowest, 328. The Army has supported STEM educational opportunities for more than 50 years. While previous efforts were funded through grants and contracts, AEOP, which was formed in 2004, awarded a cooperative agreement award in 2010 to ensure a cohesive and collaborative approach to its programming, leveraging expertise from academia, industry and nonprofit organizations. In 2015, AEOP re-competed the cooperative agreement. The new cooperative agreement was awarded to Battelle and its consortium partners from academia, industry and non-profit organizations. RDECOM represents the Army science and technology community on the AEOP consortium on behalf of the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology. “One of my first events was a STEM night in Cecil County, Maryland, where I saw folks from across the command giving a demo with a hands-on experiment,” said Juju Hewitt, former RDECOM executive deputy to the commanding general. “To see and feel that energy is so uplifting, and these one-day STEM events are key to promoting a more sustained STEM engagement such as AEOP.” Hewitt, who recently retired from government service after 38 years, had oversight of the Army STEM program when he joined RDECOM in 2013. HAPPENING NOW: SCIENCEA student conducts an experiment at a 2016 STEM Expo held at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland. The Army’s efforts to encourage STEM literacy are multipronged, including one-day events like the expo along with ongoing mentorship. Numerous organizations in the APG community meet to collaborate, discuss upcoming events and share best practices in STEM outreach and education. (Photo by Conrad Johnson, RDECOM) AEOP activities rely on adult participation, including Army scientists and engineers who serve as mentors, judges, presenters and teachers. In 2016, these mentors worked in STEM events with almost 31,000 AEOP students in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands, as well as military dependents from DOD Educational Activity international schools, which are run by or sponsored by the DOD, based on the number of military dependents who attend those schools. “Engaging world-class scientists and engineers who work in our state-of-the-art research laboratories and engineering centers to mentor AEOP activities is a unique aspect that the Army offers to STEM education,” said Lopez. Students often work alongside Army engineers and scientists in labs on research projects. Many of the 135 universities and colleges that partner with AEOP offer research apprenticeships that expose students to unique STEM learning experiences. RDECOM, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland, also collaborates with local STEM efforts like the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Institute, a two-week residential research program that enables high school students and select teachers to work in world-class labs at APG. The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at APG offers real-world paid internships in science and engineering for students who are 16 or older. At the end of their internship, the students, who work with professional engineers and scientists, present their research to APG leadership and local industry partners. In addition to educating students about fundamental STEM skills, there are other benefits to mentoring, including teaching children about the science culture and the importance of honesty, integrity and objectivity in scientific research. It also teaches children how to compete; many of the programs, such as AEOP’s eCybermission competition, are competed at state, regional and national levels. THE VICTORIOUS CHICASFrom left to right, Jyuji Hewitt, Frank Bohn, Ingrid Rapatz-Roettger, Janat Khan, Luz Figueroa-Rodriguez, Janeliz Guzman Acevedo, Bria Roettger, Sgt. 1st Class Jose Roldan, Command Sgt. Maj. James Snyder and Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Robledo. Khan, Figueroa-Rodriguez, Acevedo and Roettger, sixth-graders from Puerto Rico, make up Team Las Chicas and won the eCybermission national competition in 2016 for their work on an interactive website that serves as a warning system for people in their community who suffer with respiratory issues from the effects of Saharan dust. (U.S. Army photo) ECybermission, a web-based STEM competition for students in grades six through nine, is one of the AEOP’s largest efforts. Dubbed the “world’s largest online science fair,” the program, which is in its 14th year, involved 20,607 students and 802 team advisers in 2016. Using either a scientific method or the engineering design process, teams of three or four students propose a solution to a real problem in their communities and compete for state, regional and national awards and recognition. In 2016, a team of sixth-graders from Puerto Rico won the eCybermission national competition for their work on an interactive website that serves as a warning system for people in their community who suffer with respiratory issues from the effects of Saharan dust. (Trade winds blow dust from the Sahara Desert approximately 7,000 miles to Puerto Rico and other areas, carrying fungi and other particles that affect people with respiratory issues like asthma.) The four-girl team worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to observe and analyze the current Saharan dust levels through satellite data or imagery. They used the information to create graphs, essays and surveys, which were shared online with their local community. ECybermission is administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), which is a member of the AEOP consortium. The NSTA works with science teachers to define the next generation of each state’s math and science standards and mission objectives, as well as common core standards that outline what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade in mathematics and language arts. SCOUTS DO STEMAt APG’s annual STEM in Scouting Day, scouts have an opportunity to earn merit badges in various STEM categories. APG volunteers, including scientists, engineers and chemists, work with the scouts to cultivate critical thinking skills that will enable them to be more competitive in the workforce. (Photo by Tom Faulkner, RDECOM) At the conclusion of eCybermission 2016, Purdue University, which conducts AEOP evaluations year-round, issued a report that addressed questions related to the program’s strengths and challenges, benefits to participants and the overall effectiveness in meeting AEOP objectives. The report was compiled using student and team adviser questionnaires, student and team adviser focus groups, observations of the national judging and educational event and the eCybermission annual report. Purdue is also conducting a longitudinal study to evaluate the impact of AEOP on participants’ professional careers, as well as their career path over five to seven years. According to this year’s report, 97 percent of AEOP alumni are interested in pursuing STEM careers, and 52 percent remain connected with their mentor after their AEOP experience has ended. Students are also measured on their knowledge of Army and DOD STEM careers. “Students often believe that they need to join the Army and become a Soldier to have a government career, so part of the outreach involves educating the general public about the various student opportunities in STEM, the great work that our civilian scientists and engineers do in support of our Soldiers and our nation, and the various government career paths and job opportunities,” said Lopez. CONCLUSION While the Army has responded to the critical need for an agile and resilient STEM workforce, diversity remains an issue. According to the Purdue 2016 eCybermission report, gender distribution was balanced—49 percent of participants were male and 51 percent were female. Ethnicity, however, was unbalanced—49 percent of the participating students were white, 18 percent were Latino and 8 percent were African-American. HANDS-ON LEARNINGBoy Scouts from Maryland and surrounding states participate in the October 2016 STEM in Scouting Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the largest scouting STEM event of its kind in the nation held on a military installation. Even if event participants don’t go on to careers in STEM or with the military, AEOP’s outreach helps build literacy in science and math, where U.S. students trail their peers in other countries. (Photo by Tom Faulkner, RDECOM) The Army is working to close the minority gap with events such as the annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) and the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corp. During the 2017 BEYA, more than 100 scientists and engineers from DOD received awards and special recognition honors. The BEYA conference also teaches students about STEM careers in all service branches and encourages young professionals who attend the event to network with recruiters. Networking may be key to hiring professionals with strong STEM skills to fill vacancies that may occur in the next five years, when close to 40 percent of the RDECOM workforce is eligible to retire. “We need to be heavily invested in building the future talent to allow the Army, the Department of Defense and the defense industrial base to have enduring access to homegrown U.S. talent,” said Lopez. For more information, go to www.usaeop.com. MS. ARGIE SARANTINOS-PERRIN, a public affairs specialist for Huntington Ingalls Industries – Technical Solutions Division, provides contract support to RDECOM. She holds an M.S. in professional writing and a B.A. in mass communications from Towson University. She has 11 years of public affairs experience supporting DOD. This article is scheduled to be published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: BEYOND GPS Reaching For The Cloud It’s About Time—All of It Medical Operations in the Multidomain Battlefield
Faces of the Force: Stefanie A. “Alix” Gayton
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office, Program Executive Office for Aviation TITLE: Chief, Acquisition Management Branch; Supervisory Procurement Analyst, Business Management Division YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 12 YEARS OF SERVICE IN MILITARY: 15 DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in contracting EDUCATION: Master of public administration, Troy University; B.S. in business and communication, West Texas A&M University AWARDS: Superior Civilian Service Award; David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award as a member of the Defense Energy Support Center’s Operation Iraqi Freedom Bulk Helium Support Team; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Air Force Meritorious Service Medals; Air Force Commendation Medals; Air Force Achievement Medals MAXIMIZING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES by Ms. Susan Follett Stefanie A. “Alix” Gayton really got a lot out of the Senior Service College Fellowship (SSCF) program. In addition to honing skills that help with leadership, planning and decision-making, the program helped her find her current position: chief of the Acquisition Management Branch for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office within the Program Executive Office for Aviation and supervisory procurement analyst in the Business Management Division. SSCF coursework included actual acquisition cases, including sessions on UAS. SSCF Director Diane Whitmore “said that previous fellows would ‘leap tall buildings’ for an opportunity to work for the UAS program office,” said Gayton. So when a job there opened up, Gayton grabbed it. PM UAS is “the eyes of the Army,” she said, “and as a career acquisition workforce member, it just doesn’t get better.” PM UAS supports five unmanned platforms, each with variants, as well as supporting system equipment, including Gray Eagle, Hunter, Warrior Alpha/Gray Eagle, Shadow, Raven and Puma as well as the One System Remote Video Terminal, the Tactical Open Government Architecture Controller and the Universal Ground Control Station. Gayton leads a team that coordinates contract requirement packages and critical components of contract packages for more than 90 PM UAS requirements for seven products across five product offices. Those contracting requirements support research, development, test and life cycle efforts for the UAS family of systems, which totals approximately 8,200 unmanned aircraft. For Gayton, Soldier feedback is a vital part of her team’s success—even if that feedback is collected in some unlikely places. Gayton was on hand recently when Jason Lucas, chief engineer for the Shadow UAS Product Office, demonstrated a Shadow Tactical UAS to visiting grade-schoolers. As the Shadow launched and circled the area, Lucas explained the latest set of technical upgrades that Gayton and her team are working to place on contract and eventually field to the Soldier. “I could see through the demo how technical enhancements make a difference to those deployed in a war zone,” she said. She also had the chance to gather Soldier feedback during an event commemorating the 2 millionth flight hour for the Hunter UAS. The Hunter has been used by Soldiers for more than 21 years, and although it’s old compared to other UAVs, feedback indicates that Hunters are accessible, reliable and well-supported by the Army contractors deployed downrange. “I spoke with one Soldier who said that his unit could not get enough Hunters and Hunter flying hours,” said Gayton. “Connecting my place in the mission and my team’s contributions to the Soldier brings clarity to the choices we make, the passion we bring to the job and the focus we maintain toward achieving objectives.” Gayton got her start in military acquisition with the Air Force. Joining in 1984, her initial assignment was buying B-52 spares as a contracting officer with the Oklahoma Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. She served for 15 years, with her Air Force service culminating in a post as the base contracting officer for Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, during the B-1B bomber bed-down, the stand-up of the Strategic Warfare Center Bomb Scoring Range and the decommissioning of the Minuteman Missile Wing. She transferred to the Air Force Medical Service Corps in 1990, working as a hospital resource manager, medical logistician and patient administration officer as well as awarding and improving the performance of medical contracts. She retired from the Air Force as a major in 1999 and accepted her first civil service position as the deputy director for acquisition management at the Defense Health Agency in 2000. She moved to Army acquisition in 2009, starting as a procurement analyst for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and chief of staff for MICC Director Dr. Carol Lowman. “When I first interviewed at MICC, I was incredibly impressed by Dr. Lowman’s vision for the MICC as a learning organization. She described her goal to create a future where every workforce member is a leader; every leader continually expands their capacity to create the results they desire; and where people are continually learning to see the whole picture together.” For Gayton, SSCF participation was a “fantastic opportunity” for developing her career. “Our SSCF advisers told my class that the coursework and introspection the class provides is intended to ‘open the aperture’ of the leaders who complete the process. It worked—I loved the program.” She noted that her career also benefitted from positions to which she was assigned—positions she refers to as “not volunteered but volun-told.” Most required her to backfill an unexpected retirement or vacancy and took her outside of her comfort zone. “I’ve grown more than I ever imagined” from those spots, she said. “It’s a scary ride, but has always been well worth it.” She’s quick to note that mentors have also had a big role in her career development, including Maj. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, MICC commander who nominated Gayton for the SSCF, and SSCF coaches and mentors Whitmore, Marian Guidry and Dr. Jerry Davis. “My current supervisor, David Lancaster, drives the PM UAS Business Management Division to take ‘what is’ and make it better,” she said. She also noted the impact of Col. Courtney Cote, project manager for the UAS Project Office. “His philosophy is servant leadership, and he demonstrates it in his investment in long-term acquisition solutions, leader development and his mantra: ‘Let’s go do it for the Soldier.’ ” She added, “One of my early mentors told my team that if we couldn’t describe what we did to make a Soldier’s life a little better every day, then we haven’t earned our pay. For me, this is what leading and serving is all about.” Gayton meets with members of her team at in the UAS Project Office. From left, David Beddingfield, Lady Pollard, Gayton, Rebekah Massey and Sheila Triplett-Howard. (Photo by Bill Stern, PM UAS) This article is scheduled to be published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: Lessons learned in FMS Iterative innovation Tested by austerity The future of wearable tech
Ground Truth: Talent Management in Lean Times
Lessons in working with what you have and building what you don’t by Kevin Guite The past several years have been a tricky time for hiring, developing and retaining good people. With less money to spend, less leeway to hire and yet urgent needs for specific knowledge, Army acquisition program managers have had to think creatively to train their workforces, leverage existing expertise across organizations and compete for the brightest young minds. It is those bright minds, after all, who keep the programs running effectively and on schedule to deliver products on time and within budget to the Soldiers who need them as fast as possible. The Army Acquisition Lessons Learned Portal (ALLP) offers some clues to overcoming these challenges in talent management, with a variety of real-world lessons and best practices. Some of the following lessons from the ALLP are about training proactively, for example, plus capitalizing on resources available from aligned organizations. On the downside, other lessons illustrate how programs can suffer when they lack personnel with the necessary expertise. TRAIN FOR THE FUTURE LL_642: The execution of an internal program to train and develop interns will significantly enhance the overall effectiveness of the command, as well as build future workforce expertise. Background For five years starting in 2008, the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) operated an Acquisition Academy to grow its own talent as a solution to the paucity of available contracting personnel. The 11-week, multidisciplinary, immersive program interns’ knowledge and skills in preparation to join the workforce with a better understanding of the Army, the PEO’s mission and what the systems it produces mean to the Soldier. The academy, supported in part by the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (Section 852), was the first stage of each intern’s two- or three-year development program. A single academy class was conducted each year from 2008 through 2013, with two sessions offered in 2009. An average of 17 interns were enrolled per class over the years, with the initial session in 2008 having the highest attendance at 21 interns. With more than , the academy of 93 percent, providing the PEO with newly hired journeymen employees. The academy was popular with participants, and that reputation led to academy graduates representing 14 percent of the PEO’s workforce following their transition as journeymen employees. The first academy class consisted solely of contract specialists, with a curriculum focused heavily on those skills. Subsequent classes had a broader focus, mirroring the workings of an integrated product team (IPT), which allowed the interns to work together in their functional training and gain insight into all acquisition disciplines. Thus they could appreciate the complexity of each discipline and become critical thinkers and effective communicators and problem-solvers in an IPT. The benefits of such a program are not just the intensive intern training. The PEO’s senior engineers, contracting officers, project directors, financial analysts and logisticians delivered much of the training, requiring them to brush up on the latest policies and to develop briefings for the interns. This knowledge refresher further enhanced their skill sets and those of their team members. PEO STRI postponed additional academy classes in 2014, but it has recently kicked off discussions to reinstitute the program in FY18 to fill functional shortages and gaps in the workforce. The next class will be conducted on a smaller scale, with eight interns, and will once again leverage Section 852 funds to cover salaries for the new employees in its critical functional areas. Recommendation The acquisition academy all about growing the acquisition workforce, developing leaders and providing the best products and tools to the warfighter. Any PEO could use such a program to help ensure an adequately staffed, high-quality, educated and motivated workforce. KEEPING THE SIGNAL STRONGSoldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division use the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Joint Network Node (JNN), left, and Satellite Transportable Terminal (STT), right, during an expeditionary network demonstration in March 2016 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Despite staffing shortages, the rapid acquisition JNN-N delivered greatly enhanced beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities to the warfighter in less than a year. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs) LEVERAGE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS’ SKILLS LL_772: To overcome the challenges of staffing a program office for rapid acquisition, outsource activities to related organizations when additional help is needed. (SOURCE: Army-contracted RAND Corp. study, “Rapid Acquisition of Army Command and Control Systems,” June 2014) Background The Joint Network Node – Network (JNN-N), which provided a communications transport capability based on commercial off-the-shelf equipment and commercial satellites, has earned a reputation as a successful rapid acquisition. Less than a year after the submission of an operational needs statement in 2004, the JNN-N delivered greatly enhanced beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities to the warfighter. Furthermore, the capability was fielded to almost the entire Army within five years. The rapid acquisition of JNN-N occurred despite a number of challenges, including staffing. Initially the JNN-N program office had a team of only five or six people, which could not generate the many layers of required documentation and perform other critical duties, such as securing releases, which a traditional acquisition program demands. So the staff outsourced some of these activities to other organizations, such as the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, when necessary. This initial supplementation of staff allowed the program office to grow over time as JNN-N increased in scale and moved toward becoming a program of record, Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 1. By late 2009, the WIN-T Increment 1 product office employed over 200 staff members directly and about 125 contractors and “fielders” supporting the product office’s work. Recommendation Program managers (PMs) planning for a rapid acquisition can and should anticipate possible staffing challenges. To prepare for likely staff shortages in particular areas of expertise, the PMs can identify affiliated organizations that could fill the gaps and explore ways to “borrow” staff for the rapid acquisition. By outsourcing, the PM can prevent problems that otherwise would halt a program schedule. KEEPING THE SIGNAL STRONGLt. Col. Mark Henderson, product manager for WIN-T Increment 1, thanks Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division in March 2016 for their support with the operational proof-of-concept expeditionary signal modernization capability demonstration at Fort Bragg. PMs can “borrow” staff to fill likely staff shortages in particular areas of expertise. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs) LL_415: International acquisition teams should be trained and equipped with the cultural skills relevant to their program. DOD resources are available to help develop cross-cultural acumen. (Source: “Are You Ready for an International Program?” Defense AT&L, Jul-Aug 2013) Background Cross-cultural acumen— the ability to understand and effectively engage with people from cultures different than our own— is vital to most international programs. Without accounting for cultural differences, it is difficult to establish the trust and credibility to build international relationships. International partners might not understand U.S. Army processes, regulations, policies and laws and how they often constrain acquisition professionals’ choices. Likewise, Americans often don’t understand some of the national constraints our overseas partners have. The different lens through which each of the partners views the acquisition program has significant implications for the content of acquisition products. A good example is the design of an operator training program for a Middle Eastern country’s air force. The American model for training U.S. Air Force operators typically would involve a highly structured course with a linear sequence of instruction that allots little or no time to building personal relationships. On the other hand, a Middle Eastern country’s preferred might focus more on how its culture interacts and learns in a group setting. In fact, relationship building should come before conducting any serious business. In one case, cultural ignorance of the importance of these relationships caused such an erosion of trust that it essentially halted a pretty large program for a few years. Regaining this trust and credibility is not easy. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Florida, teaches cross-cultural communications courses and has proved to be a valuable tool in helping prepare for international interactions. Training like this would be a useful part of the orientation for new hires. Recommendation Like the operational community, international acquisition teams should be trained and equipped to appreciate and respect cultural differences that they might encounter in their programs. Many resources are available within the DOD that teams can use, including courses, research papers, briefings and subject matter experts, among other tools. Air University devotes a website (http://www.au.af.mil/culture/usgov.htm) to cross-cultural understanding that includes links to sociocultural and language resources maintained by other services, DOD and other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of State and the Peace Corps. Another helpful tool, at the beginning of an international acquisition program, is a formal stakeholder analysis to provide insights into what interests the key partners in the program and what drives them. The tool can capture the future plans and priorities of each participating nation and highlight areas where there is potential alignment to pursue a cooperative or collaborative effort. Don’t assume that newcomers to the international partners program will have the same interests and motivations as their predecessors. The country desk officer at DOD’s in-country Security Cooperation Office, which typically works closely with host nation officials and their staffs, can help acquisition professionals get to know the foreign partner and understand its processes, needs and priorities. Another valuable resource is each service’s international program office. PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN PLACE LL_879: PMs who need more Level III-certified personnel with practical experience working the entire acquisition process would benefit from a structured development program. Background A constant challenge for Army acquisition PMs is having sufficient personnel who are Level III certified in the acquisition career fields. It is critical that the PM’s staff have applied, not just scholastic, . A former hiring and development process within one program executive office brought people into the PM at an entry-level pay grade (GS-3) and promoted them (typically through GS-11) as they demonstrated ability and gained practical experience in varying roles. The PMs would assign new hires first to acquisition category (ACAT) III projects and later permit them to work on ACAT I programs as they developed in experience and expertise. The PM placed great value on logistics experience and knowledge because many issues in the acquisition process continued from cradle to grave. Developing people using this approach nurtured awareness of what “logistics” really entails. Recommendation If you can’t find people with Level III certification and applied knowledge, begin to develop them yourselves. Program offices should welcome the addition of less experienced members of the workforce and nurture their development through assignments on different aspects of Army acquisition programs. Allow these new team members to advance as they add to their expertise through work on a variety of tasks throughout the program management office. Starting a pipeline of home-grown talent will ultimately serve many programs within the Army. DEVELOPING LEADERSTop-performing military leaders from 18 organizations across the Pacific Theater gather in January 2016 aboard the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for graduation from the Young Alaka’i leader development program. Appreciating and respecting cultural differences that they might encounter in their programs is crucial for international acquisition teams. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Mary E. Ferguson) LL_1078: Having the appropriate personnel in the program management office (PMO), functional proponency office and contract support is key for program success. Background Personnel challenges affecting management at multiple levels within an Army PMO and its functional proponent caused poor coordination across the program, making it hard to create a collaborative and productive work environment. Some leaders lacked appropriate skills, such as expertise in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, ACAT I programs and information technology (IT) systems, while others had poor management skills. Management was seen as micromanaging, unable to organize the workforce needed to accomplish the tasks, and unwilling to take risks. The perception was that it did not plan well for the future of the program and that it sent representatives to meetings without delegating the appropriate authority to them. When the program began, the personnel on board did not have experience with ERP programs and did not look to other ERP programs for guidance. There was no plan for acquiring the necessary personnel for the PMO, and only 14 of 33 Table of Distribution and Allowances spots were filled as DOD hiring and grade freezes and sequestration prevented the PM from hiring, moving or promoting personnel for several years. Program challenges during that time frame included development and testing of initial system increments, source selection for a follow-on increment and the compilation of 20 acquisition documents to support the upcoming milestone B decision. Most of the PMO staff were supporting all three of these actions in parallel. Once hiring could take place, the PMO hired several research and development personnel contracted earlier using federal funds, and transitioned systems engineering and technical assistance contractors to government civilian employees. Hiring practices, such as veterans’ preference, caused delays as the PMO had to go through the difficult process of denying veterans who applied for the jobs but were not necessarily qualified. The PMO also had trouble getting appropriately experienced personnel from the functional proponent. The PMO needed technical subject matter experts from the legacy systems who understood how to generate, manage and store the data. However, the functional proponent provided end users who could interface with the source systems and had an operational perspective on their use but did not understand the underlying structure and processes. As a result, the program needed the reach-back capabilities of legacy contractors, who usually have no incentive to support the new program. Fortunately, some legacy system personnel relocated to the PMO and were able to reach back to the legacy contractor to acquire required information. Recommendation Acquisition programs need to have the right people in the right places, including leaders with the appropriate personality traits and management skills (collaborative, communicative, willing to delegate authority). Programs need a plan for acquiring qualified personnel with the appropriate expertise. Since it can be challenging to induce qualified personnel to relocate to join new programs, it may be necessary to allow personnel to work remotely. In addition, the PMO needs to tackle cultural issues among program personnel at the beginning of the program’s life cycle. After more than three years as a regular feature in Army AL&T magazine, this “Ground Truth” column of Army acquisition lessons learned concludes the series. “Ground Truth” first appeared in April – June 2014 to offer our readers lessons learned that the Army had collected via its Acquisition Lessons Learned Portal (ALLP). Since then, it has proved a popular feature. Based on readers’ nominations, “Ground Truth” was the runner-up for the magazine’s 2015 ALTies Award for best article. (See “Ground Truth: Harnessing lessons learned through Better Buying Power initiatives,” April – June 2015.) The Center for Army Acquisition Lessons Learned in the Acquisition Support Branch of the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, which launched the ALLP in October 2012, is relinquishing the mission of analyzing acquisition lesson submissions as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology re-evaluates its processes for gathering and applying lessons learned. Possible capabilities to replace the ALLP are currently under discussion. KEVIN GUITE is a lead operations research analyst with the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He holds an M.S. in computer science from the University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore, and a B.S. in computer science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He is Level I certified in program management and Level III certified in engineering. He has been a member of the Army Acquisition Corps since 2008. This article is scheduled to be published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. ONLINE EXTRAS Synopsis of “Rapid Acquisition of Army Command and Control Systems,” RAND Corp., June 2014 “Are You Ready for an International Program?” Defense AT&L, Jul-Aug 2013: Related posts: DRIVING SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS Yoga for Data GROUND TRUTH No One Would Be More Proud
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