Training, mentorship key to mission success
September 24, 2012
The Army continues to address numerous challenges in an environment characterized by diminishing resources. This also holds true for Army contracting. Army contracting continues to maintain a large standing mission without a comparable enhanced workforce.
In order to mitigate these challenges, Army contracting must continue to retain and leverage its experienced military and civilian contracting workforce while enabling the development of the journeymen workforce through training and mentorship. Implementing contract training and mentorship programs ensures contracting professionals remain the best trained, the best led, and capable of executing complex contracting requirements.
"Leader development is the best means to ensure the Army can adapt to whatever an uncertain future may bring," said Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, in the Army 2012 Strategic Planning Guidance. "Leadership development and training must inculcate the ideals of the profession of arms, while preparing Soldiers and civilians to operate independently in more dynamic environments. We must continue to recognize that people are the centerpiece of the Army and that responsible, agile and adaptable human capital management is essential to building and sustaining the all-volunteer Army."
Becoming the best contracting professionals requires more than just obtaining the proper certification in our respective craft. Certification alone may not give us the skills and proficiency needed to accomplish our mission. Each of us has a role in making the Army Contracting Command the Department of Defense's preeminent provider of decisive edge contracting solutions and practices. Junior contracting professionals should continue to learn from seasoned contracting officers, whether the contracting officer is military or civilian. Whatever our role--supervisor or employee, mentor or protégé--we all play a part in improving our processes and keeping the Army the most respected land force in the world.
Training is about gaining knowledge, understanding, skill, proficiency and depth, which is nested with mentorship. Old fashioned on-the-job training continues to be a great way to develop our workforce. Starting OJT can be as easy as returning to the fundamentals. Revisit specific technical guidance, DOD instructions and Army regulations. Contracting professionals need to be well versed in advanced planning, requirements generation, strategy development, contract award, and contract management and oversight. Sometimes the best OJT can be accomplished while sharing a brown bag lunch, where leaders can have in-depth discussions with junior staff members to share insights as well as educate our team.
OJT and mentorship go hand in hand. Whether you are in ACC headquarters or one of its centers, in the MICC or even if you are deployed forward with the Expeditionary Contracting Command, everyone should be leveraging a mentor. We have enough leaders who are seasoned, knowledgeable, skilled and proficient across all areas of contracting. We are all a part of ACC; therefore, I encourage each of you to contact someone in our command who can help fill in the gaps in areas where we may be lacking proficiency. None of us should hesitate to make a call for assistance because we all have the same goal: providing the best possible contracting solutions for Soldiers and their families.
For our mid- and senior-level staff members, developmental, informed rotational assignments help the command merge us with our customers. This is a win-win situation where our staff gains invaluable experience while the supported command or requiring activity understands how crucial the contracting role is to the mission. Leaders, I challenge you to look at our published quarterly training plans and our gap assessments to synch the areas that need the most attention.
Through training and mentorship, we can mature our command into seasoned contracting officers and professionals. With cultivating guidance from senior leaders, our team will flourish into talented staff members with boundless potential to meet the challenges of the 21st century.