REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 13, 2014) -- "Leadership is hard," warned Lt. Col. Michael J. Zuvanich at his Army retirement ceremony on June 5, 2014, after a nearly 24 year military career.

"We may be chartered to advance our programs, but we can't do so at the expense of our integrity, values or other people. You will be remembered as how you treat those you lead," he said.

Zuvanich's military career ends at Redstone Arsenal, where for the last three years he served as the military deputy to the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. Seven months of that assignment, however, he was deployed to Afghanistan as a Science and Technology Advisor to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force.

It was during this deployment that Zuvanich had a self-described stand out moment in his career.

He helped introduce emerging technologies to Special Operations leadership, including a loitering precision guided munition designed to be organic at the small unit level. Working with leaders from AMRDEC and the Close Combat Weapon Systems Project Office, this technology was deployed for operational assessment in theatre. Within 48 hours of the delivery and training, the system recorded its first successful engagement.

"The Special Forces Operators are tremendous; they are the professional athletes of the Department of Defense," states Zuvanich. "The best part was watching a little-known development effort gain rock star-like status literally overnight."

Brig. Gen. William Cole, Deputy Commanding General of the Research Development and Engineering Command, presided over the ceremony at Zuvanich's request due to their time in Afghanistan together last year. Cole introduced the beginning of Zuvanich's career at Bradley University where he was identified as a distinguished military graduate.

"That is a very difficult achievement within an ROTC. He started out on a great foot," said Cole.

Zuvanich's work at Redstone Arsenal began as an Ordnance Officer for Missile Maintenance at the Officer Basic Course. The first duty assignment was for the 30th Ordnance Detachment for the 75th Forward Support Battalion, part of the 194th Armored Brigade (Separate) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Returning to Redstone for the Officer Advanced Course and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course, he then served as Company Commander for the 774th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) at Fort Riley, Kansas, and was accepted into the Army Acquisition Corps.

His first acquisition job was at the Information Systems Engineering Command at Fort Huachuca, followed by an assignment to the Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone. A follow on assignment was with the Javelin Missile System Program Office part of PEO Missiles and Space, which preceded a move to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to serve as a Product Manager for the Aerial Common Sensor program. His final assignment brought him back to Redstone, this time in support of AMRDEC.

Acting AMRDEC Director James Lackey presented Zuvanich with the Meritorious Service Medal, citing his outstanding management and leadership support.

"This is in direct reflection of Lt. Col. Zuvanich's contributions," stated Lackey.

Among those, Lackey described the Army Materiel Command Common Operating Picture.

"He helped design the AMC COP. This is a dashboard that helps senior leadership and all users of the Materiel Command community, across the Army, understand where all aspects of our parts are across the field and how we manage from a logistical standpoint; very complex data sets, and visualizing this complex data in a more user-friendly environment to make really good, top level analytics," he said.

"It's become such a success as an AMRDEC product in direct support of AMC Headquarters that the Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Grace Bohenek, is taking this model that Lt. Col. Zuvanich helped support and develop, and we're translating that into a virtual lab. We are going to understand how we can support one other across all the RDECs -- a visual picture, a dashboard --a tool set that has migrated from the logistics world into the S&T and R&D world. It's a direct reflection of Lt. Col. Zuvanich's contributions."

Upon his retirement, Zuvanich plans to return to support AMRDEC's Software Engineering Directorate.

Retirement from the military will allow Zuvanich to devote time to his family, give back to the local community through involvement in civic and fraternal organizations, and spend some time on his hobbies -- skeet shooting, swimming and reading.

A proud father and husband, Zuvanich said, "My daughters have succeeded amidst the general turbulence of military life, and my wife gets full credit for keeping us all on track. Army families are uniquely special."


The Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.