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A New Proponent for the Army Acquisition Corps

In response to the increase in requirements for military contracting support, in November 2008, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army approved the expansion of the Army’s contracting force structure to meet the demands of rapid deployments, troop sustainment, and nation building and to support the integration of a proponent office for military occupational specialty (MOS) 51C, Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ALT) contracting noncommissioned officers (NCOs).

The expanded force structure was needed to provide institutional contracting training, compliance, doctrine, policies, guidance, and oversight and to leverage existing capabilities of other Department of the Army (DA) and Department of Defense (DOD) organizations involved in contracting processes. The creation of career management field 51 (acquisition) and MOS 51C was approved in December 2006 by the Army Human Resources Command (HRC) Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations.

The Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC)—a direct reporting unit to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for ALT (ASA[ALT])—is the personnel proponent for all military and DA civilians within the Army Acquisition Corps (AAC) and ALT workforce. Many Army and DOD organizations and personnel are involved in fostering the professional development of MOS 51C Soldiers.

Assistant Secretary of the Army for ALT

The ASA(ALT) provides guidance for managing the positions and career development of the ALT workforce through the Army Acquisition Executive. The ASA(ALT) provides guidance for designating and identifying ALT positions; specifying position requirements; attaining and maintaining ALT competencies through education, training, and experience; managing the selection and placement of AAC personnel in ALT positions; and identifying workforce metrics.

The ASA(ALT)’s core mission is to effectively and efficiently lead the execution of the Army’s acquisition function and the acquisition management system. The ASA(ALT) provides oversight for the life-cycle management of Army weapon systems and equipment, from research and development through test and evaluation, acquisition, and fielding, to disposition. The ASA(ALT) oversees the chemical weapons elimination program and is responsible for appointing, managing, and evaluating program management and executive officers and managing the AAC and ALT workforce.

Director, Acquisition Career Management

The Army Acquisition Executive has designated the Principal Military Deputy (MILDEP) to the ASA(ALT) as the Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM). The DACM directs the AAC and assists the Army Acquisition Executive in carrying out the requirements of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA).

DAWIA requires DOD to establish defense acquisition education and training standards, requirements, and courses. The act focuses heavily on a systematic approach to making the ALT workforce more professional. DAWIA specifies requirements for work assignments, experience, education, and training. Within the Army, the DACM is responsible for implementing ALT workforce education, training, and career development. A major challenge for today’s Army is to focus on integrating military and civilian ALT workforce members’ education, training, and career development into the mission of the organization. Commanders and managers at all levels must possess a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities to meet this challenge.

The DACM appoints a deputy DACM (DDACM), who is responsible for the organization and daily management functions of the Army’s acquisition career management activities. The DDACM, as the ALT workforce proponent and single point of contact on all matters pertaining to DAWIA implementation, is responsible for developing and approving all Army policies and procedures established to implement DAWIA.

The DACM and DDACM approve the ALT contracting professional career development program. This program is designed to train the acquisition workforce, support professional growth, provide operational experience, and enhance leadership competence. These goals are met through professional certification, credentialing, and undergraduate and postsecondary degree programs.

To effectively administer comprehensive career management and development programs for the AAC, the Army Acquisition Executive appointed Lieutenant General N. Ross Thompson III as the DACM. As the DACM, he oversees the training management and support of more than 43,000 acquisition professionals. He is also responsible for the career and professional development programs of the acquisition NCO corps.

Army Acquisition Support Center

Many Army regulations and pamphlets (including Army Regulation [AR] 600–3, The Army Personnel Development System; AR 70–1, Army Acquisition Policy; AR 5–22, The Army Force Modernization Proponent System; DA Pamphlet 70–3, Army Acquisition Procedures; DA Pamphlet 600–3, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management; and DA Pamphlet 600–25, U.S. Army NCO Professional Development Guide) and the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) name USAASC as the AAC and ALT proponent.

Under the DDCAM’s oversight, USAASC establishes DAWIA policies and procedures and is responsible for—

  • Overseeing accession.
  • Developing high-quality education, training, and experience opportunities.
  • Establishing career paths.
  • Providing for the overall career development of the military and civilian acquisition workforce.
  • Determining the dispensation of waivers.
  • Identifying and defending funding requirements for acquisition career management programs.
  • Supporting the MILDEP in AAC transformation initiatives.

USAASC provides resource, personnel, program, and force structure guidance to the program executive offices, direct reporting program managers, and other acquisition elements on USAASC’s table of distribution and allowances. USAASC is also the AAC proponent for Total Army Analysis submissions.

MOS 51C Enlisted Proponent Office

The MOS 51C Enlisted Proponent Office is responsible for synchronizing the eight life-cycle management processes of career management field 51 and MOS 51C. The life-cycle management processes are recruitment, retention, individual training, education, distribution, sustainment, professional and career development, and separation.

To draw from the existing expertise and capabilities of other DA and DOD acquisition organizations involved in institutional contracting training, training support, and doctrine, the 51C proponent functions and personnel are located within various DOD agencies, including the USAASC headquarters, ASA(ALT) Integration Office, 37th Training Wing (U.S. Air Force), HRC, and TRADOC. The proponent office also coordinates with HRC’s Acquisition Career Management Branch and Quartermaster Enlisted Personnel Management Branch.

The 51C Enlisted Proponent Office reports to the DDACM and consists of a 51C proponent officer (in the rank of major), a chief NCO proponent (sergeant major), an ALT combat development NCO (master sergeant), a contracting basic NCO course and reclassification instructor (sergeant first class), and an HRC MOS 51C career manager and assignment officer (sergeant first class). The 51C proponent is unlike most Army proponent offices because its actions have congressional mandates and DAWIA policies govern life-cycle management functions and processes.

Proponent Officer and Chief NCO Proponent

The 51C proponent officer (major) and chief NCO proponent (sergeant major), with direction from the DACM and DDACM and in compliance with DAWIA, participate in a wide range of functions to support the military contracting workforce. Their responsibilities include—

  • Conducting Army G–1 functional reviews and career management field reviews.
  • Leading the Army’s personnel transformation efforts for current and future operations.
  • Providing TRADOC with proponent updates pertaining to life-cycle management policies, procedures, and promotions.
  • Facilitating proponent-related training and education workshops.
  • Projecting, building, and monitoring DA training requirements in conjunction with Army G–1 structure and manning decision reviews.
  • Recruiting highly-skilled NCOs from other enlisted career fields to MOS 51C to support the contracting force structures of the Active component, ASA(ALT), Army Contracting Command, Army Special Operations Command, Corps of Engineers, and special mission units.
  • Reclassifying and training NCOs transferring from other career fields.
  • Providing proponent input for updates to Army regulations and pamphlets.
  • Initiating and fostering partnerships with the Air Force, Marine Corps, Defense Acquisition University, TRADOC, Army Combined Arms Center, Army Combined Arms Support Command, and Army Logistics University for career and professional development for 51-series officers and 51C NCOs.
  • Assisting Army and DOD organizations with force structure and development and the Total Army Analysis process, which affects current and future contracting force structure and operations.
  • Advising and providing updates to the Army Acquisition Executive, DACM, USAASC director, and regimental acquisition NCO corps sergeant major on all programs and actions relating to ALT contracting NCO personnel.

The chief NCO proponent also serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the USAASC director.

ALT Combat Development NCO

The ALT combat development NCO (master sergeant) performs a variety of ALT-related analytical tasks, including—

  • Analyzing, documenting, and obtaining approval for warfighting concepts, future operational capabilities, organizational requirements, and materiel requirements.
  • Assisting with determining solutions for the needs of future operational capabilities.
  • Assisting with revising existing manuals and developing new training tools and manuals, including joint contingency contracting and field ordering officer training publications.
  • Assisting with mission training plans, military quali-fication standards, and training support packages.
  • Serving in ad hoc groups and teams charged with specific acquisition and logistics projects as a subject-matter expert in the development of resident and exportable training products related to contracting on the battlefield.

ALT Instructor

The ALT instructor (sergeant first class) serves as a primary instructor and liaison for the Army and Air Force enlisted personnel attending the 51C reclassification training. The ALT instructor’s primary mission is to deploy and perform as a contingency contracting officer. This individual is responsible for—

  • Training and mentoring Army and Air Force contracting NCOs.
  • Training enlisted personnel in acquisition processes, procedures, policies, compliance, laws, regulations, and statutes and on equipment.
  • Assisting with updating combat administrative data and programs of instruction as required.
  • Providing operational experience and leadership in understanding lessons learned from contingency contracting operations and missions.
  • Coordinating the planning and briefing of Army training requirements to the 345th Training Squadron staff.

HRC Career Manager and Assignment Officer

The HRC 51C career development and assignments officer (sergeant first class) is responsible for—

  • Reclassifying, assigning, and training MOS 51C Soldiers.
  • Processing assignment actions while considering professional development, stabilization, and reclassification.
  • Reviewing and accepting or rejecting nominations.
  • Filling open requisitions in the Enlisted Distribution and Assignment System.
  • Coordinating with the Army, other DOD agencies, and senior enlisted contracting advisers in the field on filling assignments and training requirements.
  • Making final selections of NCOs for reassignment.
  • Screening and selecting Soldiers for high-priority assignments and training.
  • Coordinating with appropriate personnel on high-interest cases.
  • Recommending final actions on joint domicile requests, overseas-service volunteers, foreign-service tour extensions and curtailments, deletion and deferment requests, and staff action memorandums.

The objective of the MOS 51C Enlisted Proponent is to work with TRADOC to develop viable professional development programs for 51C NCOs that create a professional, agile, and motivated NCO corps that consistently makes sound and informed business decisions, acts in an ethical manner, and delivers timely and affordable capabilities to the warfighter. The 51C Enlisted Proponent provides career guidance and opportunities that broaden NCOs’ experience and progression potential, provide program stability and accountability, and ensure effective use of training and civilian education programs.

Currently the majority of ALT contracting NCO positions are within the Army Expeditionary Contracting Command, a subordinate command of the Army Materiel Command. These deployable modification table of organization and equipment positions support the missions, training, and career development of 51C enlisted personnel.

Sergeant Major Ethan A. Jones is the senior enlisted advisor to both the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA[ALT]) and Principal Military Deputy to the ASA(ALT). He is the chief NCO proponent for career management field 51 and military occupational specialty 51C. He holds a B.A. degree in public relations and mass communications from Paine College and is pursuing an M.A. degree in acquisition management from the University of Management and Technology. Sergeant Major Jones is level III certified in contracting.

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