ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Materiel Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, welcomed its new military senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. 1st Class Clifford T. Martin II, a 21-year Army veteran from Little Rock, Arkansas. Transitioning from his previous duties with the 5th Signal Corps Inspector General office in Germany, Martin joined the CERDEC workforce Feb. 1.
The CERDEC Public Affairs Office recently sat down with Martin for an introductory Q&A.
Q. Tell the CERDEC workforce a little bit about yourself.
I was born and grew up in Chicago, but consider myself from Little Rock, Arkansas, where I graduated from Little Rock Central High School. I went to college at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. While at UAPB, I joined the U.S. Army Reserves as a Cable Systems Installer. I joined the active Army in June of 1994. I have served at Fort Lewis, Washington, South Korea twice, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Gordon, Georgia. I was also an Army Recruiter in Eugene, Oregon and served as an Army Inspector General in Wiesbaden, Germany.
I'm a big fan of my three daughters. I have one graduating from Washington State University this May, one who is a freshman at New Mexico Highlands University, and a 13-year-old at home. I'm also a big fan of youth sports. I coached middle school football, basketball and track and field. I helped start a new Amateur Athletic Union basketball program in Germany for boys and girls ranging from ages 8-18. As a matter of fact, I will be traveling back to Germany this summer to take one of my basketball teams to Austria for an international basketball tournament. I am really excited about that.
Q. What is one of your key philosophies for life in a military community?
I'm a very, very simple guy. I don't like to use million dollar words or anything like that. I try to keep it as simple as possible. If you come to work and do what you're supposed to do, the work will be the pay-off in the end. I've never been one to work to get a great evaluation or award. I go in and do what I'm supposed to do, and my work will speak for itself. I think if (others) stay on track with your work speaking for itself, it'll be easy to write that evaluation/award. They won't have to sit there and make something up, or fluff it up.
Q. What are your responsibilities as CERDEC's Senior Enlisted Advisor?
I'm responsible for anything enlisted related. Our military deputy, Col. Matthew Schramm, and I are the liaisons between the CERDEC Headquarters and the CERDEC Soldiers out in the field. We try to get information from the Headquarters out to the Soldiers. We make sure the Soldiers are updated on everything they're supposed to be doing military wise, like what we expect of them with any policy changes that come down. I screen the evaluations and awards packages before they get to Col. Schramm's desk to make sure everything is up to standard before he sees it. Once he gets it, all he has to do is make a decision or sign. By the time he gets it, it should've been staffed, free of errors, all the technical stuff. Also, we have quite a few Soldiers getting ready to come here over the next several months, and I want to make sure they understand the organization and at least be able to find the basic information on the unit before they arrive.
Q. What is it like for you being career Army in a predominantly civilian organization?
It's definitely a learning curve. I'm learning something new every single day that I sit down at my desk and start reading email. I've never been (involved) in Acquisitions before, so I'm taking an Acquisitions class so I can talk the talk and understand what we're talking about.
My interactions with the civilian engineers and scientists have been great. I've had the privilege of taking tours throughout the organization and had a chance to see a lot of the projects they are working on, and it blows my mind. I am really excited to see some of the things they are working on implemented into the field.
Q. How has your prior experience prepared you for this position with CERDEC?
I have had assignments ranging from tactical field artillery line units all the way to strategic G6-level signal assignments and seeing the Army at those levels builds up to working at this level. My job as Senior Enlisted Advisor puts me in a position where I can share my experiences with the Soldiers, scientists and engineers, so hopefully something I've done in the past 21 years can be of use to those guys. I'm bringing all these experiences and just hope that some of it will be of use to the organization.
Q. You have been a Soldier for 21 years. How important is the green suiter's perspective in research and development?
I believe the green suiter's perspective is very important. It's almost like having the answers to the test. The engineers and scientists actually get to hear first-hand in the developmental stages the good and bad of their product. That way they don't develop something only to find out they could have made it even better.
Q. What does this assignment mean to you up to this point?
I wish I'd seen this assignment a long time ago in my career. This assignment is totally different from being in the "regular" Army. I've worked at all the different levels in other assignments, but I see the broader picture, the business side of the Army now. I love the job here. I think I can make a difference by keeping the military side of the house taken care of. I think I have some valuable input to provide.
My main focus right now is to find out what Soldiers are doing for the organization, compared to what their MOS (military occupational specialty) is. In an organization like this, which is mostly civilian, we can't get away from being Soldiers. We still have to take PT (physical training) tests, go to the weapons range, and make sure NCO evaluation reports are up-to-date, and so on. I'm also trying to contact a couple civilians who supervise Soldiers with regards to setting up a class to show them how to write evaluations and awards.
I want to make sure they (the Soldiers) understand we are still Soldiers and we are not going to be at Aberdeen our entire career. They're actually going to get a chance to see some of the equipment they helped develop when they get back on-line. They can be the subject matter expert when they get back to a line unit and say, "Hey, I helped design this piece of equipment, and I can tell you this is what it does."
I think there's work to be done to get CERDEC better known in the Army community. When I was told "You're going to CERDEC," I had never heard of it. When I was on my way here, I wasn't able to find much information on CERDEC or its' mission. That's one of the projects I have.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add as you begin your tenure with CERDEC?
The one thing I would really like to emphasize is always maintain a positive attitude. I am a very positive person, and I try to find positive in everything. I would say no matter who you are or how busy you are, always take a minute to ask someone how their day is going, or just say thank you for all the hard work they have been doing. You never know who needs that little pick me up, and something as small as saying thank you could really make someone's day.