Officer, Product Manager, Humanitarian

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Maj. Frank M. Musisi


COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Product Manager for Bridging, Project Manager for Force Projection; Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support
TITLE: Assistant product manager
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level I certification in logistics; Demonstrated Master Logistician; Theater Logistics Planner
EDUCATION: M.S. in project management, Keller/DeVry Graduate School of Management; B.S. in information and computer science, University of California, Irvine; Associate of Science degree in computer science, Los Angeles Valley College
AWARDS: Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters (OLCs)), Army Commendation Medal (three OLCs), Army Achievement Medal (four OLCs), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd Award), Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (3rd Award); African Focus Ambassador of Goodwill Award for Community Service, United Nations World Humanitarian Award, Uganda Parliament Highest Recognition Award for HIV/AIDS Charity Medical Work in Uganda
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, California;


by Susan L. Follett

It’s hard to separate Maj. Frank Musisi, Army product manager, from Frank Musisi, community activist. More than a decade at the helm of a nonprofit has made him a better Army leader, and the Army values he has acquired in his 20 years of military service have enabled him to help more than 250,000 people in a health clinic in his native country of Uganda.

As assistant product manager for Bridging within the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS), Musisi is responsible for planning, acquisition documentation, testing and fielding for operational test events and required acquisition documentation for 16 weapon systems and bridges. He’s also responsible for coordinating the fielding, training and sustainment of Army Reserve and active-duty units for weapon systems within the bridging portfolio. “My greatest satisfaction is being the military interface between the operational forces, industry and defense agencies for the weapon system development in bridging,” he said. Bridging interfaces with other defense organizations on a range of existing and emerging bridging systems, including the Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge, the Bridge Erection Boat, the Bridge Supplemental Set, the Common Bridge Transporter, Joint Assault Bridge, and the Rapidly Emplaced Bridge System.

Musisi has been in acquisition for just one year, and arrived here thanks to an interest in learning more about the Army structure and functions. “I’ve always been interested in knowing how the Army procures the systems and equipment for the operational force,” he said. “I initially thought there would be a lot more contracting in my acquisition career, but was very pleasantly surprised to learn there was a lot of project management. That’s what my master’s degree is in, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to apply the things I learned in school.”

The makeup of the Army Acquisition Workforce also caught him off guard. “I had expected it would be 25 percent military and 75 percent civilian, and I was really surprised to learn that it’s really closer to 5 percent military and 95 percent civilian. Where I am, it is closer to 2 percent military and 98 percent civilian. I’m the only Soldier in my office right now.” Musisi encountered a slight learning curve when it came to working with civilians, but he relied on past experiences as an Army planner in the Logistics Branch to help him make the adjustment. “I served as HQ and HQ company commander for a two-star command as a captain, and regularly interacted with senior staff to accomplish our mission. I learned the importance of people skills, networking and tactfulness from that assignment, and also know that how you treat people is how they’re going to treat you.”

In his current role, he has found that expectation-setting and building relationships are the keys to accomplishment. “I’m new to acquisition and new to this organization. So I let my team know that they’re the experts in this field, and that I’m relying on their expertise to get things done,” he said. “I’ve also tried to let everyone know their role in the bigger picture and how the work they do helps the product and program managers make the right decisions for our product.”

Musisi also relies on the multitasking skills he picked up as an Army logistics planner. “Logistics is involved with several fields—quartermaster, ordnance, transportation—and learning to do lots of things at once helps as an assistant product manager, when I need to get some market research information, or an engineering report or work with the budgeting personnel.”

Away from PEO CS&CSS, Musisi is active as a community volunteer, organizer and leader. He’s originally from the Ssese Islands in Uganda, an archipelago of eighty-four islands in the northwestern part of Lake Victoria, and came to the U.S. to attend college. Inspired by a campus visit from former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, Musisi joined the Army in 2000. He received his first duty assignment as an automated logistical specialist with the 31st Combat Support Hospital, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.

On leave to Uganda in 2004, Musisi discovered that almost one-third of the population of the Ssese Islands was infected with HIV or AIDS—much higher than the HIV/AIDS rate in the rest of Uganda, which is roughly 7 percent. Armed with experience from his logistics work at an Army combat support hospital, he worked with Uganda’s Ministry of Health and local medical students to assess the magnitude of the problem. In 2005, with help from his mother and some close friends, Musisi established the Ssese Islands African AIDS Project (SIAAP). Initially located in his mother’s house, the clinic now treats approximately 25,000 patients per year, covering a range of conditions. His nonprofit also includes a mentorship program through which many young people have joined the military. The HIV/AIDS infection rate in the Ssese Islands is now at about 19 percent, and the clinic’s success has inspired other medical and nonprofit organizations to come to the region.

His facility has treated more than a quarter of a million patients since it opened, and the Ugandan Parliament recognized Musisi’s accomplishments. “It’s important to note that for the most part, we don’t have huge donors or grants to fund our organization. Our funding comes from small, consistent donations—$20 or $30 a month from people around the world. Their contributions are what sustain our operation.”

Musisi credits the Army for helping him identify solutions where others saw roadblocks, and noted that leadership skills and Army values are important components to the success of SIAAP. “In the Army, we’re trained to inspire people to accomplish missions regardless of obstacles,” Musisi said. “I also rely on and teach others the Army values of honesty, integrity and hard work.” That teaching is paying off, he noted. “We can’t pay our staff huge salaries, but we spend a lot of time teaching them to be good leaders. Many of them move on to positions of greater responsibilities in bigger organizations. It’s gratifying to see that.”

His volunteer work and his Army career have taught him a great deal. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that family should always come first. Because at the end of the day, you will always go back to your family. Another thing I’ve learned is that in America, everything is possible as long as you plan, prepare and educate yourself.”

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