Questions and Answer with the Top Vertebrae
October 15, 2009
Q -Where are 51Cs assigned and what are are their duties'
Baker - During its inception the new 51Cs were primarily assigned to the Army Sustainment Command. They now belong to the US Army Contracting Command. As the field matures 51Cs will be assigned throughout big Army. The duties of a 51C are to provide operational and contingency contracting support to deployed forces and DoD agencies. My immediate concerns is the attention given to the 51C NCO (a low density-high demand MOS)-everyone wants one. This MOS takes time to grow.
Q- What do you think people should know about these NCOS'
Baker - People should know that we select the best NCOs to conduct operational and contingency contracting thru an arduous screening process. The prime candidates are those high speed NCOs who are in balanced or over strength MOS's. To qualify as a candidate for the MOS, NCOs need to be at the Staff Sergeant through Sergeant First Class rank with less than 10 years of active federal service.
Q - Why should someone move into that career field'
Baker - Operational and Contingency contracting is not for everyone...Only those NCOs who are highly motivated and can work independently with little or no supervision need to apply. NCO's who have served successfully in leadership roles and are highly competitive for promotion should research the specialty and see if it's for them.
Q - How do you see things progressing in so far as the 51C field' Why is it important to concentrate on growing more of them'
Baker - Our country is in a state of persistent conflict; with no site of these conflicts ending any time soon...We need Contracting NCOs to serve as continuity and stability for the Army's military contingency contracting workforce. Things are progressing well as we just stood up the 5th of 7 Brigades at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Q - What level is needed the most'
Baker - This is one of the newest military occupational specialties being integrated into our Army; it is only about 3 years old...
Q - Before they move over to 51C what should they consider'
Baker - That the Contracting NCO is not your typical hand receipt holder...As a Contracting NCO you must be World -wide deployable ready to provide operational and contingency contracting support to our deployed forces.
Q - What do you and the other CSMs discuss about the way forward for these Soldiers
Baker - Our biggest discussions are on the Life Cycle Management of the Armies newest MOS...we discuss the recruitment, retention, individual training and education, distribution, sustainment, professional development, and separation.