Maintaining A World-Class Workforce

By July 9, 2017September 1st, 2018Army ALT Magazine, Talent Management
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AAW’s importance to the mission makes professional development all the more vital

From The Army Acquisition Executive
Ms. Steffanie B. Easter

Stephanie T. Easter, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Aquisition, Logistics & Technology),

Ms. Steffanie B. Easter
The Army Acquisition Executive

As the Army builds a more agile and adaptive force for the future, we must continue to provide our Soldiers a decisive advantage by maintaining high-quality acquisition professionals to develop, acquire, field and sustain the world’s best equipment and services. Comprising over 38,000 professionals, both military and civilian, our Army acquisition community is responsible for outfitting Soldiers around the globe for any and all possible situations and conflicts they may encounter. Additionally, we must accomplish this against the backdrop of an increasingly complex environment, which requires us to be well-educated, well-trained and well-informed in making the right, tough decisions.

Soldiers everywhere feel the effects of decisions made by the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW), as those decisions influence how missions are executed and can make the difference between success and failure. Some of the decisions that acquisition professionals deal with on a daily basis include: What is the best way to equip our Soldiers for the complex threats of the future? How do we stay ahead of an enemy determined to exploit vulnerability in our capabilities? How do we keep up with the pace of technological change? What is the best way to field the latest technology in a timely way? Are we meeting our responsibilities to use the taxpayer’s dollar efficiently?

It takes a certain individual to enter the acquisition profession and work on issues of this magnitude, every day, worldwide. Furthermore, it takes an exceptional individual to thrive and succeed in this profession—and exceptional individuals are exactly what make up the AAW.


Lt. Col. Jenny Tam, right, product manager for satellite communications in the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T), briefs Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie B. Easter at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in May. Easter stresses the importance of providing acquisition workforce members the training and education they need to make tough decisions in a high-stakes, resource-constrained environment. (Photo by Dan Lafontaine, PEO C3T Public Affairs)

The AAW is a dynamic and unique group of smart, professional and passionate people, all of them committed to the ultimate goal; providing cutting-edge capabilities to our Soldiers. Very few career fields have the impact on a Soldier that an acquisition professional does.

Whether it’s the CH-47F Chinook that Soldiers load themselves into or the 5.56 mm ammunition they load into their weapons’ magazines, acquisition professionals play a key role in providing products that support operations involving Soldiers around the world.

It is imperative that we sustain our investment in a world-class workforce by continuing to develop, train and grow our talent. Human capital planning increases the effectiveness of the workforce by identifying and addressing workforce gaps, and providing solutions to recruit, develop and retain a highly skilled, fully engaged AAW.

One element of this continuous improvement of the workforce is the Human Capital Strategic Plan (HCSP), a five-year plan to help establish goals, objectives and initiatives that support the AAW and will help to strengthen its foundation for the future.


Ngoc Le, an engineer assigned to the product manager for Soldier maneuver sensors at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, familiarizes himself with the latest in rapid target acquisition technology during training in April. The technology wirelessly connects a weapon’s thermal sensor and reticle with the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III. The combination of high-tech equipment and the skilled workforce that designs, acquires and supports it gives Soldiers a crucial edge. (Photo courtesy of the Program Executive Office for Soldier)

The HCSP includes five major goals:

  • Workforce planning—Shaping the team to meet current and future acquisition requirements.
  • Professional development—Keeping our professionals qualified and fully trained.
  • Leadership development—Developing and sustaining effective Army acquisition leaders through specialized leader development programs and opportunities.
  • Employee engagement—Giving our acquisition professionals the tools to take ownership of their careers, and empowering them with a sense of purpose and commitment to the mission.
  • Communications and collaboration—Improving these to better support the Army acquisition community.

The HCSP is just one example of how we are refining the AAW to position it for success. We must ensure that we have the right people with the right skills to meet current and future equipping needs. We must continue to cultivate “common ground” to work more effectively, collaboratively and productively with everyone on the Army team.

Today’s challenges, threats and opportunities are unprecedented. Our Soldiers depend on each of us to be fully engaged and highly effective as we make sure they have the capabilities they need to conduct full-spectrum operations across the globe. It is paramount that we systematically and strategically manage the acquisition workforce, ultimately to ensure mission success. Well-educated, well-trained and experienced people are the key. High-quality acquisition workforce professionals drive better acquisition outcomes.

Readiness is the Army’s No. 1 priority. Our acquisition professionals must remain ready at all times to provide the equipment and services that our Soldiers need to win across multiple missions, domains, conditions and geographies now and into the future.


Spc. Nathaniel Ortiz, with the Expeditionary Cyber Electromagnetic Activities Team, 781st Military Intelligence Battalion, conducts cyberspace operations in May at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. Taking cyber capabilities—a priority in DOD’s FY18 budget request—to the edge of a complex battlefield requires serious know-how and technical skill, both on the part of the Soldiers who operate the capabilities and the acquisition professionals who must get the capabilities to Soldiers. (Photo by Bill Roche, U.S. Army Cyber Command)

This article was published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine.

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