COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Joint Program Executive Office Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A)
TITLE: Assistant product manager
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 7
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 15
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Practitioner in program management and certified DOD contracting professional
EDUCATION: MBA in systems acquisition management, Naval Postgraduate School; B.S. in biology, King’s College, Pennsylvania
AWARDS: Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster and the Combat Action Badge.
Maj. Christopher Noll
by Holly DeCarlo-White
Maj. Christopher Noll and his team bring “game changing technology” to the battlefield. From his own deployment experience, he knows firsthand how this kind of technology is vital to the warfighter. He serves as the assistant product manager for the Cannon Delivered Area Effects Munition (C-DAEM) Armor Program.
“When fielded, C-DAEM Armor will give the warfighter a significant tactical advantage allowing engagement of armor targets at never seen before distances from cannon artillery,” Noll said. These cannon-fire missiles use artificial intelligence to hunt targets beyond what the human eye can see.
Noll’s team works with industry and the Fires Center of Excellence to ensure the development effort of this kind of technology remains focused on cost, schedule and performance so the Army can get what they need at the best value for money spent, he explained. “My greatest satisfaction is in knowing that our workforce continues to provide our men and women with an unfair advantage on the battlefield,” Noll said.
He applied to join the (now eliminated) Army Acquisition Corps after his second deployment in Al Kut, Iraq from 2010 to 2011. In Iraq, Noll served as the executive officer for the howitzer battery, as well as the squadron logistics officer (S-4) with the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. “I was impressed by the weapons and technology my unit was fielded and how quickly it made a difference on the battlefield,” Noll said. “Immediately, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.” So, Noll submitted an application through the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program (VTIP) process where Army officers can request to transfer into a different functional area within the Army after they completed their key developmental position. The functional area he chose was acquisition. Officers are selected based upon performance, experience and skills and typically must work in the field they choose to transfer into for 36 months.
After transferring into the Army Acquisition Workforce, he served as a contingency contracting team leader at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In this role he learned and supported contract administration activities in various capacities. For example, when on deployment Noll enjoyed directly supporting the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Inherent Resolve and the fight against Da’esh, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, or ISIS. Then, back stateside, he also enjoyed supporting organizational construction projects on Fort Bragg and Camp McCall.
“[People] are typically amazed at the knowledge and professionalism of our organization’s workforce,” he said. “That’s what really amazes me. Our workforce is motivated by the warfighter and world renown in their depth of knowledge.”
Noll received his Master of Business Administration in systems acquisition management from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2018. The degree program provided him a holistic view of the Defense Acquisition System and insight on how other services operate. “I would unequivocally recommend this opportunity to others,” he said. “The partnership between the defense industrial base and the Army Acquisition Workforce is a formidable foe that brings the fight to the enemy in their own special way.” In his current organization, for example, Noll said the defense partner and the U.S. government are truly a team. “We operate as one unit which makes developing products for the warfighter that much more efficient,” Noll explained. “Our partners understand what we are trying to accomplish and for what reasons, and we understand they have a business to operate and report to their shareholders.”
Throughout his time in the acquisition field, Noll said he has been extremely fortunate to serve under great leaders and mentors. “This is our strength as a workforce,” he continued. “[Army acquisition leaders and mentors] have inspired others to be the best version of themselves and provided stellar examples of what I aspire to be. I would not be where I am today without their personal investment.” Noll said he continues to grow each day under the extraordinary leadership the workforce provides—not just professionally, but personally, too. In his professional career, he strives to be a subject matter expert in all things related to the Defense Acquisition System and how to work in the system to ultimately deliver a quality product to the warfighter. On a personal level, he works every day to be a better husband, father and friend. “I’ve been very fortunate to have leaders that value what I do and set the example in these areas,” he added.
“Several personal mentors have taken the time to guide me on my path and see things in me I did not see myself,” Noll said. “The most impactful mentor I’ve had reminded me to be myself and that leadership was the secret sauce of the acquisition team,” he said. “From the Soldier to the engineer, everyone deserves exceptional leadership capable of uniting, motivating and building teams that support the mission.”
Noll generally gives two pieces of advice to newly assessed military officers entering the Army Acquisition Workforce; Don’t be afraid to fail, and lead when you can. For officers and noncommissioned officers entering this career field, the learning curve is high. “You will never be the smartest person in your organization and at times that can be intimidating,” he said. “Despite this, the workforce wants to teach you, and for you to succeed—don’t be afraid to fail.” Noll advises others to leverage their leadership experiences in the Army to make their organization better. “Whether it’s volunteering for something outside of your purview or setting up monthly professional development events, your leadership experiences will bring value,” he said. In recent years, Noll has volunteered to run the Combined Federal Campaign, a large annual workplace charity campaign, for his installation, and he also planned a ceremony for the Army’s birthday—a community event also held on each Army installation annually.
“If you were to talk to [my] family and friends, I hope they would say [I am known for] my involvement in the community—after being a good husband and father,” Noll said. He enjoys spending time giving back when he can through coaching sports and planning local events that bring the community closer. “Both place an importance on team building,” he said. Noll coaches little league baseball when he has the opportunity and enjoys planning informal military family events on his installation. “At least monthly my family invites the military community over to our house for an outdoor movie night,” he said. The most important lesson he has learned throughout his career and personal life is the importance of caring for others.
“My goal is to truly know each member of my team to find out what their motivations and aspirations are and how I can best help them in accomplishing their goals,” Noll said. “Taking care of people has a direct correlation to mission accomplishment.”
“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/.