JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Jan. 31, 2014) -- One of the command's most experienced acquisition professionals retires this week after more than 33 years of federal service. Debbie Emerson has directed contracting operations for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Field Directorate Office-Fort Eustis, Va., since February 2010. And while she departs for retirement, her acquisition knowledge and business acumen will long impact Soldiers and their families."Meeting the needs of our Soldiers and their families takes dedicated leaders committed to strengthening the contracting process," said George Cabaniss, the MICC deputy to the commander. "Deb is the best example of that type of leader. She is retiring from the MICC having fostered relationships with our supported organizations as well as her fellow contracting professionals to enhance the MICC's role as a strategic mission partner."The FDO director is responsible for the contracting mission and management of 12 field contracting offices. Those include MICC offices at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Eustis; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Rucker, Ala.; Fort Sill, Okla.; the Presidio of Monterey, Calif.; and West Point, N.Y.The Strayer University graduate joined the Army Acquisition Corps in September 2002. Having seen the contracting community in transformation over a good portion of the years since, Emerson believes it's on the right course but fears hurdles are not far away."We're headed in the right direction, but my biggest concern is that throughout all of the changes, we won't continue the momentum without filling all of the vacancies that exist -- that's where the boots hit the ground," she said. "It's stressing our staffs in our contracting offices. We really need to have adequate staff to meet the mission and train to fill the gap as more and more people leave."Her more than 33 years of Department of Defense contracting experience spans positions with the Army, Navy and the Air Force. She began her federal contracting career at Virginia's U.S. Naval Cheatham Annex in supply and purchasing. She worked several years in Air Force installation contracting at Langley Air Force Base, Va., as both a purchasing agent and contract specialist.Emerson has also held many operational and leadership positions in the Army contracting community over the last 20 years. She began her Army contracting career as a procurement analyst for the principal assistant responsible for contracting for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va. She went on to fill leadership positions of division chief and deputy director at the Fort Eustis Directorate of Contracting and the Northern Region Contracting Center. In 2005, she transferred to the contract operations division of the newly formed Army Contracting Agency-Northern Region. Over the next few years she held a variety of positions -- to include contract operations chief, special competition advocate, and acting director and alternate PARC -- as the ACA-NR transformed into a new command to include the MICC as a major subordinate organization.Emerson readily admits that what she'll miss most about the job are the people."I've always loved contracting and am fortunate I fell into it," she said. "What I love more is having the opportunity to meet so many people and mentors across the country and hope to stay in touch with as many as I can."Short-term retirement plans include escaping the harsh winter conditions of the northeast to warmer climes in the south, and she and her husband also plan to work on a bucket list of vacation getaways, with Hawaii at the top of that list. They will also make the time to attend important events in the lives of their nine grandchildren, six of which are outside of the Virginia area.