POSITION: Chief, UAS Operations, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office
UNIT: Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE: 22 years.
AWARDS: Department of the Army Commanders Award for Civilian Service, AUSA Department of the Army Civilian of the Year for Technical and Professional, and Order of Prometheus.
EDUCATION: BS Business Administration, Athens State University; Athens, Alabama.
Rocky start leads to solid career
By Susan Follett
Dana Osborne’s first day on the job was almost her last. But with a little determination and some help from a couple of managers, she turned a rocky start into a 22-year career, continuing a family legacy of service that goes back to the Korean War.
Osborne began her government career in 1991, in the Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Project Office, which was then known as the Army Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project Office. “I was assigned to the Administrative Office with a detail to an Engineering Branch. My prior work experience was in retail, so I had no knowledge of Army correspondence requirements or the Army’s filing system. My first day was overwhelming,” she said.
“This particular engineering branch had not had an administrative assistant in several months. I was immediately given a stack of documents to file and numerous letters to type in the civilian and non-civilian formats. By the end of the day I laid my head on the typewriter and asked myself, ‘What I am I doing here?’ ”
Fortunately, she returned. “A former UAS project manager once told me to sink or swim and that my career was in my hands. From that day forward, I accepted the challenges and opportunities, and I am where I am at today in part because of him.”
She credits another project manager, Col. Michael A. Hamilton, and Eddie Bair at PEO Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors for introducing her to acquisition. “They selected me for para-trainee position after I had worked for seven years. A couple of years through the program, I was given the opportunity to work directly with both of them through a source selection, contract award and other events leading up to Milestone B, on what is now known as the UAS Shadow Program.”
While she has come a long way since that first day, her work isn’t without its challenges. “The main challenge that I face day to day is not being taken seriously as a female in my position,” Osborne said. “In other organizations, my position is usually filled with active duty or retired military. But I have learned to adapt and prove myself daily.”
She’s quick to add that the challenges are well worth the sacrifices. “I work with some of the greatest, most hardworking and dedicated people who have made a difference in many Soldiers’ lives. It’s rewarding to be a part of a team that develops the platforms that give our Soldiers an additional set of eyes over the horizon and puts them one step ahead of the enemy so they can return home to their families.”
FOTF: What do you do in the Army?
OSBORNE: As the Operations Chief, I am focused on the UAS mission and its impacts on the Soldiers, and I maintain this focus on every effort within the UAS Operations Division. I ensure that all requirements and inquiries from higher headquarters are addressed in a timely manner and as a single voice from the Project Office. My team is responsible for the day-to-day activities for the organization. We are the hub of the Project Office, on everything from OCONUS theater support to graphic illustrations.
FOTF: Why did you join the Army?
OSBORNE: I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mom, who was a civilian careerist for more than 50 years. She started as a clerk-typist at Redstone Arsenal before transferring to Fort Benning, Georgia, where my father was stationed. She then transferred back to Redstone Arsenal, to be close to home, and progressed through various supply, logistics and maintenance fields. My dad is a veteran of the Korean War, and my husband has deployed twice in support of Overseas Contingency Operations and currently serves in the Army National Guard. I know firsthand the sacrifices they have made in service to this wonderful country we live in and this knowledge drives me each and every day to provide superior support to our forward deployed forces.
FOTF: Where have you deployed?
OSBORNE: I deployed to Kuwait in November 2007. As the government lead, I supported a group of eight media personnel visiting several UAS operations in Iraq. I was able to see that what we were doing at home was making a difference in supporting our soldiers. It’s an experience that I will treasure throughout the remainder of my career — seeing vehicles roll in after performing a mission and knowing they were safe, as well as seeing tired faces willing and ready for the next mission.
Army Acquisition: Professional to the Corps. October 13, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps, a specially trained, dedicated group of military and civilian acquisition leaders who develop, field and sustain the critical systems and services that enable our Soldiers to fight and win our nation’s wars. #AAC25