FROM THE DIRECTOR, ACQUISITION CAREER MANAGEMENT
DIGITAL TRANSORMATION AND THE ARMY ACQUISITION WORKFORCE
“The transformed workforce will be digital-forward, understanding of the role, uses and manipulation of data seamlessly across the multidomain battlespace”
For the U.S. Army, 2023 is the year of digital transformation.
That’s the message that Young Bang, the principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, conveyed at the forum “Digital Transformation: Supporting Army Modernization” during the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Convention in October.
And this transformation will have a big impact on how the Army Acquisition Workforce does business. A digitally transformed Army cannot happen without a digitally transformed Army Acquisition Workforce. “To enable faster delivery of capabilities to our warfighter, we must drive towards open systems that are interoperable [and] interchangeable and plug and play,” Bang said.
To support digital transformation, we must reskill and upskill our workforce. Companies in banking, the automotive sector and nearly every other industry have become technology companies—in effect, software companies. They are digitally transforming, as the Army must. Much of our workforce is involved in software-intensive programs. For those professionals who aren’t, you almost certainly have software embedded in your products. The story of Army modernization in 2023 is a story of software development, interoperability and continuously iterated and integrated software products. Software is pervasive across all aspects of Army acquisition, and there are many layers and levels to that software. That will only increase.
A DIGITAL-FORWARD WORKFORCE
My priority for the next year is accelerating the digital transformation of the workforce. The transformed workforce will be digital-forward, understanding of the role, uses and manipulation of data seamlessly across the multidomain battlespace. Having a fundamental baseline understanding of how software functions within modular, open-systems architectures, in the systems-of-systems that will integrate Soldiers and materiel, and how those interoperate will promote the digital transformation so critical to our Soldiers against pacing threats.
“Our software development process and approaches must be modernized to enable smaller, faster, incremental delivery of capabilities and drive towards” continuous integration and continuous deployment, Bang said.
Making available the training to do that will be central to enabling our Army Acquisition Workforce to support this mission. The Defense Acquisition University is working on building out knowledge areas and credentials in software development, DevSecOps (development + security + operations), artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security that will be available at the foundational level.
My office is also expanding or tailoring some of our training and development programs to allow for more targeted focus in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For example, our Leadership Excellence and Acquisition Development (LEAD) program now includes an infusion of unique digital technology experiential and training opportunities, (i.e., IT, cyber, AI and human systems integration). “The Army is going to scale the heck out of AI,” Bang said.
We are also partnering with academic institutions and industry, many of which are currently leading the way in the digital transformation space, in an effort to learn from and leverage their best practices. We recently launched a new digital transformation training course at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy in Pittsburgh.
We are also sponsoring a two-week long digital data user’s skill-development course for our mid-grade professionals so they better understand how to identify which data methods and tools can be used to solve problems. These training opportunities were made possible because Section 8080 of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022” allocated $50 million to be available through the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Account for “recruiting and training the Department of Defense artificial intelligence-literate acquisition workforce.”
TRAIN EARLY, OFTEN
Acquisition professionals do not need to wait for these training opportunities to become available to begin expanding your knowledge of software innovation, data and AI. Each Army acquisition functional leader has published continuous learning point (CLP) guidance, much of which includes digital transformation-related training opportunities. I encourage workforce professionals to review these standards, work with your supervisor and update your individual development plan in the Career Acquisition Management Portal/Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAMP/CAPPMIS) to account for these training goals.
The DACM Office also provides tuition assistance for individual courses or towards STEM-related degrees if you prefer to go that route. Our Acquisition Tuition Assistance Program provides tuition, laboratory and technology fees, within limits, to AAW civilians, military occupational specialty 51 contracting (51C) noncommissioned officers, and flexible length and renewable-term technical-appointment employees in DOD laboratories designated as Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories (STRLs). The STRL program is “a new workforce shaping pilot program that provides the STRL lab directors the authority to dynamically shape the mix of technical skills and expertise,” according to DOD.
The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has a renewed focus on STEM in three tracks—engineering, program management and contracting. For officers, Advanced Civil Schooling provides an opportunity to pursue advanced degrees in STEM, whether it’s through attending the NPS or a school of choice. That deep knowledge will be critical to the workforce. “We often constrain technology because we don’t understand it or are un-imaginative on how to employ it,” Bang said.
All of these efforts will enable a new vision for our workforce to modernize in line with industry and in advance of our adversaries. This will look like quickly gathering and conveying data to leaders to enable their decision making, better consumption of data between systems and a flattened and simplified architecture. Our use of a continuous learning model, and a well-educated and well-trained workforce is what will get us through 2023—the year of digital transformation for the Army.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 Army AL&T magazine: https://asc.army.mil/web/news-digital-transformation-and-the-army-acquisition-workforce.
NEVER TOO EARLY
by Jacqueline M. Hames
Army Acquisition Workforce members don’t need to wait to develop their careers—they can start right away. Beginning a new career can be an intimidating process. As with any milestone change in life—graduate school, marriage, children, moving to a new location, etc.—there’s quite a bit to plan. What do you want out of your job? How do you want to contribute to the company? What things are required or expected of you?
Navigating these questions and the inevitable learning curve that comes with new transitions is difficult, but it isn’t something civilian Army Acquisition Workforce members need to do alone.
The Army Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office has programs available for junior workforce members to help develop their careers: The Acquisition Leadership Challenge Program-Beginnings (ACLP-B), the Defense Civilian Emerging Leader Program (DCELP) and the Acquisition Tuition Assistance Program (ATAP).
JUST AS YOU START
Starting any new career is a little nerve-wracking. Learning the office culture, business rules and other implied codes of conduct can be difficult. That’s where the ACLP-B comes in—it is a two-day course designed to help new hires in the GS-07 to-11 range transition into career civil service under the general DOD umbrella and Army acquisition. The program’s goal is to mitigate the frustration and misunderstanding that new civilians may experience when entering the workforce, said Darrell E. Whitehurst, ALCP-B program manager in the DACM Office, Workforce Development and Engagement Division.
The program is focused on building a “solid foundation for effective and efficient acclimation into the workforce,” he said. It provides participants with some basic “rules of engagement” to give them an idea of the social, cultural and legal expectations within the workforce—including differences between the generations on office-appropriate attire, communication styles and behavioral guidelines.
“The ALCP-B training will ensure that people can communicate with their supervisors through a common language and help develop leaders who value individual styles and behaviors, creating a future leadership corps more capable of critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, and creativity and innovation,” Whitehurst said. Participants complete three credentialed assignments during the course that will provide insight on how to apply their unique personalities to multiple leadership development opportunities, he added.
The DACM Office ALCP program manager coordinates directly with organizational acquisition points of contact and acquisition career management advocates to recruit participants, Whitehurst said. Organizational acquisition points of contact are an “on-site resource for acquisition information. They are trained to respond to questions from their organizational acquisition personnel…,” according to “Managing Your Acquisition Career.”
ACLP-B is one part of the larger ACLP, and as workforce members progress, they can sign up for Parts I, II and III to help develop leadership skills at every phase of their career. Reach out to your lead organizational acquisition point of contact for course offering dates of interest and nomination.
Read more at https://asc.army.mil/web/news-never-too-early.
INAUGURAL CLASS INDUCTED INTO ARMY ACQUISITION HALL OF FAME
During all the hustle and bustle of the 2022 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology set aside a cozy room for a very special induction ceremony. The standing-room only event commemorated the contributions of legendary Army acquisition professionals, both alive and deceased.
The first four recipients of the Army Acquisition Hall of Fame were inducted at the ceremony on Oct. 12. The Honorable Kevin Fahey, along with family members of John Shipley, Claude M. Bolton Jr. and Maj. Gen. Harold J. “Harry” Greene were in attendance to accept the awards.
The Army Acquisition Hall of Fame award was established to recognize and honor former acquisition professionals who have made significant and enduring contributions in support of Army acquisition and the joint force. Lt. Gen. Robert L. Marion, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, led the effort. He said, “It has been my honor to work in Army acquisition and be part of such a professional and dedicated workforce. We in the Army Acquisition Workforce have a strong sense of heritage, honor and pride. This Army Acquisition Hall of Fame will strengthen that sentiment.”
“These four inaugural Army Acquisition Hall of Fame recipients represent what is truly remarkable about the Army and Army acquisition,” said the Hon. Douglas R. Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, and the Army acquisition executive. “They represent decades of quiet and noble service, often behind the scenes, to our great and grateful nation. They represent commitment and sacrifice, loyalty to the mission as well as those with whom they served.”
Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo provided remarks during the ceremony. Camarillo previously served as the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, helping to lead and supervise Army modernization programs, procurement, logistics, and research and development investment. The Army Acquisition Hall of Fame “is very important because of the work that the acquisition workforce in our Army does. It is one of the most, if not the most, versatile workforces you’ll find anywhere in the federal space and certainly in the Army,” he said. “It performs a role that requires expertise that is really unmatched anywhere in DOD.” When speaking about the four award recipients, Camarillo said, “We are all enriched by the example they set for all of us.”
Bush and Camarillo presented the Army Acquisition Hall of Fame award to the recipients.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, plaques were unveiled that will be hung in an Army Acquisition Hall of Fame display in the hallway of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology in the Pentagon this year.
Read more about this event at https://asc.army.mil/web/news-inaugural-class-inducted-into-army-acquisition-hall-of-fame.
FISCAL YEAR 2023 SELECTEES OF THE DEFENSE CIVILIAN EMERGING LEADER PROGRAM
Congratulations to the fiscal year 2023 Defense Civilian Emerging Leader Program (DCELP) selectees!
DCELP is DOD’s leader development program for emerging leaders in grades GS-07 through GS-12 and equivalent paybands. Between March and May 2023, participants will meet for four one-week sessions where they will engage in leadership assessments, mentoring, peer coaching, team and individual presentations, networking opportunities, real world applications of lessons learned through experiential activities, and a final Capstone project. Upon completion of the program, participants will come away with the necessary tools to manage the challenges they will meet as future leaders in the DOD environment.
The DCELP selectees are:
Dawn Carrano, U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC)
Jeffrey Cox, ACC
Brian Helser, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space
Christopher Mohr, U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command
Jacquelyn Noell, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM)
Jeffrey Reid, TACOM
Sandra Schenning, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Debby Wells, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command
Learn more about DCELP at https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/dcelp.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2022 IDEAL PROGRAM GRADUATES
Congratulations to the graduates of the fiscal year 2022 Inspiring and Developing Excellence in Acquisition Leaders (IDEAL) program. IDEAL is a developmental program for Army acquisition leaders at the GS-12 and GS-13, or broadband equivalent, level. Instruction is facilitated by the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence (AACoE).
The 2022 fiscal year marked the return of the popular residential program, following a one-year COVID-related hiatus. For 2022, the AACoE hosted two IDEAL cohorts, both at the AACoE facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Referred to as Cohort A and Cohort B, each group met in person for three separate weeks over a period of approximately five months. Cohort A held its in-person meetings in March, May and July, and Cohort B met in June, August and September. In between sessions, the participants returned to their individual workplaces, where they practiced the leadership skills and competencies that they had discussed and studied during the resident sessions. The application period for the fiscal year 2024 IDEAL program is tentatively expected to open in May.
To learn more about the IDEAL program, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/inspiring-and-developing-excellence-in-acquisition-leaders-ideal.
The IDEAL graduates for fiscal year 2022 are:
Levi Alexis, U.S. Southern Command
Kevin Amaya, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC)
Antoinette Barnett, Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense
Amanda Bortak, JPEO Armaments and Ammunition
Kyle Brennan, Army Futures Command (AFC)
Nina Bushnell, U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC)
Forrest Bussler, AFC
Dennis Chapman, AFC
Rashawnda Coleman, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM)
Erika Curry, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM)
Frances De Gori, ACC
Carson Dereski, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM)
Alejandro Fernandez, ATEC
David Gannon, National Guard Bureau
Troy Heitzer, CECOM
Jenn Hyman, ACC
Napoleon Jones, TACOM
Steven Kashubara, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ground Combat Systems
Joseph Kornhoff, PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (IEW&S)
Bryce Kuykendall, PEO Aviation
Kristen Lawrence, AFC
Liane Leong, ACC
Jamaal Little, PEO IEW&S
Cheryl Marhevko-Kozera, TACOM
Jennifer McClure, ACC
Tirso McCoy, ACC
Danny Nease, AFC
Michael Nguyen, AFC
Tiffani Osborne, Army Materiel Command (AMC) Logistics Support Activity
Brian Palmer, PEO Enterprise Information Systems (EIS)
Shauna Dorsey Parente, AFC
James Pauley, TACOM
Rocio Rangel, ATEC
Kimberly Ross, ACC
Jeananne Russell, ACC
Susan Ruzicka, ACC
Michael Scholl, AFC
Anthony Schrantz, PEO EIS
William Schwartz, ACC
Nicole Seaman, PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support
Jacob Sisko, AFC
John Smith, U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command
April Stevenson, Headquarters AMC
Marc Tardiff, AFC
Armando Torres, PEO Simulation, Training and Instrumentation
Lee Troope, ACC
Raymond Vazquez, AFC
Masao Williams, AMCOM
Jesse Wolfgang, AFC
Carla Wren, PEO EIS
Stasya Zarling Bejma, AFC
SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS
Meet Kelly Tisch, deputy director of the Intelligence and Simulation Hardware Directorate at the Program Executive Office for Command Control Communications-Tactical at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. A self-proclaimed “Jersey girl”, Kelly participated in the virtual Defense Acquisition University Senior Service College Fellowship (DAU-SSCF) program from July 2021 to May 2022.
What was your primary motivation for taking the DAU-SSCF program?
I wanted to become a better, stronger, more confident leader in the Army Acquisition Workforce.
What were your expectations of the program before you started, and how did they change as the the program proceeded?
I thought I would be going through the journey of the fellowship on my own, but it only took me a few weeks to realize I would be taking the journey with my peers. We listened to each other, learned from one another, challenged each other. We grew together over those 10 months.
I didn’t realize how deep we would delve into hard topics. I appreciated having the opportunity to discuss challenging topics in a safe place. I especially appreciated the vulnerability of my peers and senior leaders. It was refreshing to speak openly on topics that often get shied away from. I especially embraced the time to navigate and discuss challenges women face as leaders. I was able to explore my place as a female, non-military mom in Army acquisition. I talked about the challenges I have faced, how there is current momentum to make a change, and how I want to continue to make it better for the next wave of women. It was through SSCF that I began to explore my female perspective [and learned that it] is valuable and necessary to better the workplace. I can see how my personal approaches to business and acquisition result in a more inclusive workplace that performs better.
What were your top three take-aways from the program?
Listen. Listen a lot. Listen better. Listen to what’s being said and not being said. Talk to the people before and after meetings, especially the ones who may tend to be quiet. The best leaders for me haven’t been the most talkative, they are the best listeners. Notice something, surface something, and work it with others. Acquisition challenges aren’t as tough as most people think. It’s the people dynamics that complicate or heighten a challenge. Learn to navigate the soft skills and you will go far.
Ensure as leaders we’re embracing and championing diversity in all forms. I love how we learned the importance of diversity in bettering organizations to include race, color, age, gender, and positions on teams, and we also included the diversity of thought. I appreciated learning about how we as leaders need to ensure voices, differing voices, are all being heard. It makes organizations, products and processes better. Through the courses, readings and senior leaders it was reinforced the importance of how we can amplify different voices and continue to ensure we are encouraging employees to lean into their ways of thinking, not our own or the ones around them. So much of what we discussed in SSCF was determining ways we could promote diversity of thought by making our teams feel safe to express their needs and perspectives. It’s amazing how much stronger organizations can become when employees feel safe. These safe places are breeding grounds for creativity and ingenuity.
Remember there will be hard times. Those may include your home-life challenges that make the workday feel harder or the professional ones you’ll need to tackle head-on during the workday. Link-up with the people who are there to help and support you. Build that support team for yourself. Acquisition is a team sport for products, and you should be building your own personal support team for your career. My virtual cohort—every member—have become my trusted advisors. I know I can walk through any type of work challenge with them. We have created safe and strong relationships with one another that I look forward to growing and continuing throughout our careers.
This may sound odd, but I don’t think there was anything I learned in SSCF that was earth-shattering. The concepts and topics themselves weren’t groundbreaking, but it was the implementation of it all. We had to ask ourselves if we were finding ways to be better and do better with every day, meeting and conversation. It’s easy to know what makes a great leader but to live and be it was our collective goal in the cohort. We had to ask ourselves if we were living out many of the critical leadership ideals we were learning.
Would you recommend this program to your peers, and why?
Absolutely. It was a wonderful experience—to reflect, learn, reflect more and grow. I learned through readings, classes, other senior leaders, and my peers. It remotivated me to do better and be better for myself, both personally and professionally, my teams, and the Army at large. I will always be a strong advocate of the SSCF program as it built me a network and gave me a stronger leadership foundation.
Read more about Tisch in Army AL&T News Faces of the Force: https://asc.army.mil/web/news-channel-your-inner-authenticity.
SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS
What was your primary motivation for taking CES, ALCP, IDEAL and DCELP?
My primary motivation for taking these programs was to continue perfecting and learning my leadership styles. I know how important it is to understand the workforce to meet today’s challenges. These courses allow me to stay in touch with current workforce challenges. A challenge like how the younger workforce does not see that doing something one way, the same way, every day is sometimes not a viable way.
What were your expectations of the programs before you started and how did they change as the programs proceeded?
The expectations I always have from these courses are: what will my team members expect of me? I always expect to be challenged since we have a diverse workforce and with that comes numerous personalities that can help me build in restructuring my leadership styles. Throughout the [programs], I had to adapt to team members’ ideas and wants. I found out that I needed to really listen and digest what team members were conveying before I spoke.
What were your top three take-aways from the programs?
My top three take-aways were:
(1) Understanding that the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic does not stop a team from working collaboratively virtually to get the mission done.
(2) It’s okay to disagree or to be challenged by team members and faculty. This allowed me to grow as a person and to see or understand better my authentic self.
(3) Understanding how or when it’s okay to show vulnerability. This action can have an overwhelming effect on team members as well as employees under your leadership.
What skills, knowledge or experiences from the program/course do you apply most, in your job or outside of work?
The skills, knowledge and experiences I apply the most know is truly listening to people before I weigh in. I have found out that talking just to talk provides no value to the situation or topic at hand.
How have these programs affected your career?
These programs (CES, ALCP, IDEAL, and DCELP) have affected my career in a positive way. I feel that the learning has allowed me to reconnect with my leadership traits and styles and apply them to the members and circumstances in my daily job. The continuous learning allows me to adjust my leadership styles to what’s currently happening in the workforce. One can’t become stagnant and expect old leadership styles and traits to affect apply to the workforce as it is today.
Who would you recommend these programs to, and why?
I recommend these programs to everybody no matter what level of leadership you may have achieved. There are so many new challenges within the current workforce that requires leaders and subordinates to fully understand the diverse workforce and the continued challenges being presented in our ever-changing global world.
Read more about Grant in Army AL&T News Faces of the Force: https://asc.army.mil/web/news-learn-and-lead.