• Faces of the Force

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    Working to ensure mission readiness

     

    By Susan L. Follett and Tara A. Clements

     

    From logistician to contracting officer, Master Sgt. Perryman’s drive is fueled by her passion to take care of Soldiers—providing them what they need, when they need it to accomplish the mission at hand. With more than 23 years of service and experience with multiple deployments, this decorated senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) is now responsible for preparing the next generation of contracting officers to adapt to any mission they’re faced with at home and abroad. According to the Army Contracting Command senior enlisted advisor, Command Sergeant Major John L. Murray, “Perryman is a shining example of the caliber of professionals we have in the Army Acquisition Corps. She is deeply respected and a valued member of the team who always takes a personal interest to ensure Soldiers and Army civilians are prepared and resourced to do their job.”

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

    PERRYMAN: I am an acquisition, logistics and technology contracting noncommissioned officer (NCO (51C)) and senior enlisted advisor for the 918th CCB. As a contracting NCO, my work is important because I play a huge role in ensuring that warfighters receive the supplies and services they need to accomplish their missions. As the senior enlisted advisor, my duty is to train, coach, and mentor my NCOs and officers to ensure they are prepared physically and mentally for any mission.

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

    PERRYMAN: I reclassified from the logistics branch four years ago. While I was making great progress in my military career, I wanted more, and 51C offers great opportunities for advancement and good possibilities for a career as a civilian. My experience has been very challenging, especially the task of ensuring that Soldiers remain battle-ready while they settle into the 51C military occupational specialty (MOS).

    What surprised me the most is how much Soldiers rely on their leaders. They get their energy from us, and we need to keep that in mind as we train and mentor them. Knowing that their desire to be the best-of-the-best comes from us is surprising and humbling to me, and motivates me to give my all every day.

    FOTF: What is most rewarding about your job?

    PERRYMAN: Knowing that I’m taking care of my Soldiers. Even if it’s a little thing like getting new chairs for a conference room, I like seeing my work come to fruition, and I like hearing their feedback – even if it’s not always positive.

    FOTF: From your experience, what are the differences serving as a contracting NCO during deployment and non-deployment status?

    During a deployment, the workload is like a revolving door—it never stops, which is a great thing because the more you do, the better you get at it.

    In a non-deployment status, the workload does not compare to being deployed and there is an adjustment period from having a military supervisor to a civilian supervisor, but you’re still able to gain great experience if you want to learn and prepare yourself for life after the military—if contracting is part of your career path.

    FOTF: What was the most memorable item or service you contracted for during your time in Afghanistan?

    Master Sgt. Perryman congratulates Staff Sgt. Mansfield, one of her Soldiers, for earning the title of ‘NCO of the Year’ for the 918th Contingency Contracting Battalion’s first competition this March. Photo courtesy of Army Contracting Command Public Affairs.

    My most memorable item was the furniture I procured for the Camp Marmal dining facility during my deployment to Afghanistan. I remember walking in for breakfast and saw the new set- up for the first time; it was like being in a really nice restaurant. I was elated! Despite the situation we all were in at that moment, the dining facility was a place where Soldiers could take a minute to have conversations with others, watch AFN [Armed Forces Network], laugh out loud and feel a sense of peace for the thirty minutes that most spent during chow time. In my opinion, moments like that are priceless.

    FOTF: What would you say to a Soldier considering this MOS?

    If you are looking for a challenging and exciting MOS, reclassify to 51C. Be prepared to be open-minded, learn at a fast pace, work with civilians and set yourself up for a successful and bright future.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not at work?

    PERRYMAN: I enjoy spending time with my husband and my two daughters, and I really enjoy fishing. It’s very relaxing, one thing that this job is not. While I really love my work, the operational tempo is pretty high and the hours are long. I appreciate the opportunity to relax when I can.

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

    PERRYMAN: I wanted to join the Army ever since I was a child. I loved the sense of safety it projected and the pride of the people who were affiliated with it. My mother encouraged me to pursue my dreams of joining the military, and she thought the Army would be good for me—she often mentioned that under different circumstances she would have joined herself.

    My greatest satisfaction is taking care of Soldiers. The Army gives me the unique opportunity to mentor and counsel Soldiers in all types of settings, those on my team as well as those who just need someone to listen or a word of encouragement. In addition to helping, at that moment I’m also setting an example for my family and Soldiers to follow.

    Links:
    • ACC website: www.acc.army.mil
    • Interested in 51C reclassification? Visit http://asc.army.mil. Two reclassification boards remain for FY13.


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

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    Transforming military operations by advancing communications

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF Editor’s Note: Lt. Col. (P) Collins was nominated for this feature by Public Affairs Officer Kyle Bond. “Lt. Col. (P) Collins has had a hand in groundbreaking work for Soldier communications,” said Bond. “He has an important story to tell, and his experiences and perspectives make him an invaluable resource for the Army acquisition community.”

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

    Collins: I serve as the Product Manager (PM) for WIN-T Increment 2, the Army’s tactical backbone communications network, which provides reliable voice, video and data to Soldiers. The network is one of the top modernization priorities for the Army. WIN-T Increment 1 provided Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity communications down to the battalion level at-the-quick-halt. WIN-T Increment 2 provides advanced enhancements over WIN-T Increment 1, including unprecedented on-the-move communications capabilities down to the company level. It also introduces networking radios to the architecture and enhances Network Operations, a suite of integrated monitoring tools used to command and control the network.

    The PM is also responsible for the development, system engineering, acquisition, distribution, integration, testing and production activities for the program. We oversee the cost, schedule and performance through lifecycle development, and lead a team of 52 uniformed, civilian and contractor personnel. The PM team also directs the project teams and working groups that provide the engineering, programming and testing expertise needed to develop network communication systems for Soldiers.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like?

    COLLINS: I’m fortunate to be a product manager that has been able to take such a large project through all the life cycles — design, testing and securing a major procurement decision — and this experience has been phenomenal. We’re now getting ready to roll WIN-T Increment 2 into theater and it’s been great to participate and experience all phases of acquisition.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most?

    A 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division soldier demonstrates Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 and Mission Command on the move applications during the Network Integration Evaluation 12.1. WIN-T Increment 2 is a major upgrade to the tactical network backbone that will extend satellite communications to the company level, allowing soldiers to communicate seamlessly through voice, data, images and video - even in complex terrain that can break line-of-sight radio connections. Hosted on a single computing system, the initial set of Mission Command on the move applications will provide mobile company soldiers with the real-time information that typically would only be available inside a Tactical Operations Center. (Photo by Claire Schwerin, PEO C3T)

    COLLINS: My biggest surprise has been the sheer impact the network is going to have on the way we fight combat and conduct the full spectrum of military operations. WIN-T Increment 2 will increase the pace at which the Army can move combat operations forward while significantly decreasing the military decision-making time cycle. It brings much needed network on-the-move capability and increased bandwidth.

    What hasn’t surprised me is our Soldiers’ ability to train and become proficient with the WIN-T Increment 2 equipment. We have trained several hundred Soldiers to date, and they receive anywhere from one to 10 weeks of training. Increment 2 is a transformational communications system, and to see Soldiers train and operate this network and then deploy it is nothing short of amazing.

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?
    COLLINS: Like most programs, our biggest challenge that we currently face is continuous change and fiscal uncertainty. We’ve found that the best way to deal with that is through transparency; sharing information as much as we can. That transparency builds trust throughout our team, and trust is our biggest asset in dealing with the uncertainty.

    FOTF: How has sequestration affected your program?

    COLLINS: From a program standpoint, it may result in budget cuts, and from a team perspective, it has the potential impact of employee furloughs. We have a major system test coming up in May, while at the same time we are fielding equipment in Afghanistan and other locations. We continue to work to minimize the impact to the program and those valuable team members that support mission execution.

    FOTF: What do you find most rewarding about your work?

    COLLINS: Without a doubt, the biggest reward is the people and Soldiers I work with. The PEO and PM teams, the headquarters departments, the user communities and the units that we work with are fantastic. They’re driven and motivated, and they put mission first. Also, seeing how WIN-T Increment 2 will enhance Army operations by delivering unprecedented network reliability and flexibility is very gratifying. We’re modernizing the Army’s network and transforming our networking by adding on-the-move capabilities and providing them to the lowest echelons.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army?

    COLLINS: Like many folks, I came from a very patriotic family who taught me that honesty, integrity and hard work matter in life. At a very young age, I saw the military as a place that also valued those traits and knew it would likely be a good fit. After high school I enlisted in the Army and then subsequently attended college, where I became involved in Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. The team work, esprit de corps, rewarding challenges and the Army’s care for my family kept me with the military over the years and looking forward to continued service.

    For more information, visit http://peoc3t.army.mil/.


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

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    Project officer manages ‘everything explosive’

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOTF: How did you overcome this challenge?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    Top-Notch staff fuels success for Apache program

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

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

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

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

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face?

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

    FOTF: How do you overcome that challenge?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    Soldier makes a point of helping somebody every day

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOTF: How has your program been recognized?

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

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

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

    For more information, visit PEO Soldier.


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

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  • Faces of the Force

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    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

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    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

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    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 »