ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 26, 2013) -- Knowing that a radio is often the only link between a Soldier and a commander in the field, Col. Gregory M. Fields spent the pinnacle of his more than 38-year Army career enhancing how the Army procures radios.

"One of the lessons-learned in these accelerated acquisition assignments is that you have to be persistent, driven and very creative when fielding something so that it will not only provide a lot of capabilities, but also be safe for the Soldiers to operate," Fields said.

Fields was honored for his career achievements during a Nov. 22 retirement ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md.

Fields was instrumental in establishing an innovative acquisition approach to procuring lower-cost, commercially-available radios. The Non-Developmental Item (NDI) acquisition strategy he developed for the Mid-tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR) program opened competition to all industry partners that meet the Army's requirements. The initial MNVR contract award in September followed a rigorous full and open competition that included Army assessments of participating vendors' manufacturing readiness, as well as evaluations of their hardware.

"We tested the radios in the laboratory and also in the field," Fields said. "We took the process further by not only reviewing the proposals, but we also visited the manufacturing facilities to determine if they could deliver in the time frame that we needed."

Fields most recently served as Program Manager (PM) MNVR, which he successfully restructured from the Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) program. He oversaw PM MNVR's relocation from San Diego, Calif., to APG, after it was reassigned from the Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS) to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).

As the program manager for GMR, Fields was responsible for the acquisition of software-defined networking radio systems that enable Soldiers to send and receive critical information over the tactical communications network. He led the team to achieve Type I National Security Administration (NSA) certification for the software-defined radio -- a first-time achievement for the Department of Defense (DoD) and NSA.

Fields joined the Army Acquisition Corps in 1992, since it closely matched his technical background as an engineer.

"I saw the Army Acquisition Corps as an opportunity to apply some of the things that I learned in school and to also do good things for the Army and the Department of Defense (DoD)," Fields said.

Throughout the years, Fields achieved the highest DoD Acquisition Career Field Certification levels, Level III, in program management, information technology, systems engineering and science and technology management.

Fields was also one of the Army's first "trail bosses" when he served as an assistant project manager for the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) program in Southwest Asia during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. As the trail boss for FBCB2, which combines computers, global positioning equipment and communication systems to provide situational awareness to Soldiers, Fields served as a link between the acquisition community and units receiving the technology to ensure the successful deployment of FBCB2 in theater.

Fields enlisted in the Army in 1973 as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division. While he left the Army in 1977, he was commissioned in 1982, after completing the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program while attending the Georgia Institute of Technology. After simultaneously graduating from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, as part of a dual degree program, he returned to active duty in 1984.

Some of his early assignments included company command in the 46th Engineer Battalion, which deployed to Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He later served as assistant project manager for the Sense and Destroy Armor program, where he was responsible for the system engineering, automated simulation management and testing of the 155MM smart projectile system that provided artillery fire and counter fire support against armored vehicles.

Fields' awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medals (2nd Award), numerous meritorious and achievement medals and the Parachutist and Air Assault badges. He also received numerous awards, including the Legion of Merit, during the Nov. 22 retirement ceremony.

In retirement Fields plans on remaining in California, where he currently lives.

"The best part about being in the Army was helping people reach their potential," Fields said.