COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Matrixed to Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, Project Manager Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems, Product Manager Wideband Enterprise Satellite Systems, assigned to the Communications-Electronics Command Integrated Logistics Support Center
TITLE: Senior Logistics Management Specialist
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 40.5 years
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 21 years
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Life cycle logistics Level III, program management Level I
EDUCATION: M.A. in community services, Michigan State University; B.A. in human resource management, Saint Leo University, Florida
AWARDS: Department of the Army Civilian Service Commendation Medal (fifth award), Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism (fourth award), Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for Civilian Service (fourth award)
by Ellen Summey
Ruby Hancock grew up in a military family in small town West Virginia—her uncles had served in the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force, so she decided to complete the deck and enlist in the Army. She started the process at age 17 and joined through the delayed enlistment program, soon after completing high school. Twenty-one years later, as she was retiring from active duty at Army Materiel Command (AMC), Hancock knew she wasn’t ready to leave behind her lifelong passion. “I got lucky,” she said. “I decided to apply for a civilian job at Army Materiel Command. I had just retired so I understood the work efforts there. I wanted to be a part of that, and I had a passion to continue the work of supporting Soldiers.”
She was selected for that job, and despite her experience in that command, she was challenged to change her perspective when transitioning to the civilian workforce. “The language was different, the actual work was different—I came from a tactical background into a more strategic environment, so at the time I didn’t understand some of those strategic things, like the budget, the finance, and how all of that works together to provide for our warfighter. It was a rough couple of years, learning to understand requirements and things like that, which really made me appreciate things I had taken for granted as a Soldier.” Fast forward another 20 years, and Hancock is still committed to the cause.
“I am currently serving with Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems’ (DCATS) Wideband Enterprise Satellite Systems (WESS) as a senior logistics management specialist and as the subject matter expert for logistics matters on the Senior National Leadership Communications, which is a Defense Information Systems Agency program, and the Direct Communications Link (DCL) project for messaging between the president of the United States and the president of the Russian Federation.” The DCL is the “hotline to Moscow,” a private, dedicated crisis communication line designed to reduce threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, and Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems is the military lead for its life cycle management.
“It was a shocker to me as a logistician for the satellite—that what communicates with who? I did not have a thorough understanding, initially. I was focused on the logistics and making sure the satellite was modernized, not really paying attention to who it was communicating with. One day at Fort Detrick [Maryland], they were talking about this telephone, the hotline, and as you walk into this conference area, you see a red phone there. I was really caught off guard, like, ‘You guys really talk on this?’ And they had to tell me, ‘Ruby, that’s not the real one. The communication link is through the antenna,’ ” she laughed.
One of her most impactful and career-broadening assignments so far was serving as the senior management specialist for DCATS’ Defense Wide Transmission Systems, which later led to an opportunity to serve as the assistant program manager. During that time, she was charged with two programs being transferred to the Army Communications-Electronics Command, the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface network—the largest tactical wireless network in the Department of Defense—and the Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminal (CSS VSAT), The CSS VSAT systems are easy to deploy and set up. In 20 to 30 minutes, CSS VSAT can go from being “fully stored for transport” to being able to successfully transmit automated sustainment data. “The transfer to sustainment requirements were truly challenging as this was only my second acquisition assignment,” she recalled.
Since becoming an Army civilian and an acquisition professional, she said, she has offered advice to junior acquisition logistics team members about training and opportunities to develop and strengthen their skill sets, to ultimately make them better prepared for promotions and advancements. “You can always take courses to understand the Army’s logistics functions and how they tie into acquisition logistics, which is linked to eventually accepting greater levels of responsibility.”
One of the most important lessons she has learned through her 40 years of service to the nation—“having courage.” She said that “it’s so important to have heart and keep overcoming obstacles. You may have setbacks, but what’s important is how you face difficult situations.” Hancock shared a story of her own battle with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how the tools she learned through counseling and therapy are still helping her take on other types of challenges in her life and her career. “Those tools they provided me to use in stressful times, I still lean on. Breathing techniques, I struggle with being around large crowds, so managing that, having that courage, bringing my tools, allows me to do what I need to do.” Learning to manage her PTSD also allowed her to complete a second deployment to Afghanistan, as a civilian. She was motivated to push through those challenges so that she could provide for American Soldiers on the ground. “I knew I could draw on that courage, serve my country and help take care of our Soldiers,” she said.
An important model of courage in Hancock’s life—her late grandmother, Minnie Hancock, whose persistence and indomitable spirit could inspire just about anyone. “One of the most significant events in my life was when I was returning from Desert Storm in 1991, my grandmother—who didn’t have a driver’s license—found a friend to take her from West Virginia all the way to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to see me get off that plane.” Hancock has a prized photo from that day—her grandmother is pictured, along with her friend and driver Burton Walker, wearing head-to-toe red, white and blue, holding an American flag and beaming with pure pride. Then a fresh-faced staff sergeant, the younger Hancock held various bags and pieces of equipment after the long flight, and a red rose her grandmother had brought.
“That was truly a significant event in my life,” Hancock recalled. After 40 years of service to the nation and the U.S. Army, that’s saying something. She has learned the importance of courage, overcoming obstacles and pursuing goals in the face of repeated setbacks—and she hopes that sharing her own story will help others find courage as well.
“Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.