ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- A senior executive service leader, Bryon J. Young, retired as the executive director of the Army Contracting Command -- Aberdeen Proving Ground, during an official ceremony held here on Dec. 7, culminating his 40 years of service with the Department of the Army. The presiding official was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement, Harry P. Hallock."He converted from uniform to coat and tie and that's not easy for a lot of people. But Bryon did it seamlessly," Hallock said. "He took the lead role of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command, formed under a new organization called the Army Contracting Command, and Bryon stepped in to do what he always does - his best. At ACC-APG, he brought two historic and large organizations together which was no easy feat for anyone, but Bryon made it seem easy. That's just Bryon and what he brought to the table every day."Hallock presented Young with the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest award granted by the Secretary of the Army to Army civilian personnel. The ceremony continued with a reading of a message of congratulations from Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and these remarks were formally entered into the official Congressional Record for Dec. 7. The ceremony closed with remarks from Young and he thanked his family and guests for attending."It's been a tremendous and rewarding career," Young commented. "I really appreciated being here at Aberdeen and having this assignment be the capstone of my career. I saved the best for last."Young was born an "Army Brat" at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois. He graduated with high honors from the University of Delaware earning a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology in 1976. After graduation, he was commissioned as an Army Air Defense Artillery officer. Young earned a Master of Science in Business Administration from Boston University and in 1989, he transitioned to the newly established Army Acquisition Corps in the field of contracting."At the time, military officers were required to have a secondary specialty," Young explained. "I picked a specialty that seemed interesting and would be rewarding if I ended up spending a significant amount of time working in it. I already had an MBA so I thought contracting would be a good fit."According to Young, this decision paid off and he considers contracting "a challenging and rewarding career field."In 2003, then Col. Young retired from the military with 27 years of service and became an Army civilian employee serving as the deputy director of the Army Contracting Agency, a newly formed organization activated under the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). Young oversaw the development of this agency into an organization that centrally managed most of the Army's installation contracting activities. The following year, he was selected to become a member of the senior executive service and was appointed the director for the Information Technology, E-Commerce and Commercial Contracting Center, a subordinate element of the ACA."I was proud to have achieved the SES selection and to have been given the trust of my superiors," Young said. "At the time, I looked forward to being able to make the contributions that this grade would afford me the opportunity to do."He next became the ACA director and this position put him at the forefront of acquisition change with the activation of the Army Contracting Command. The decision to establish the ACC was a result of an independent commission to review lessons learned in expeditionary contracting. Based on the commission's recommendation, the Army Materiel Command activated ACC in 2008 and the ACA was realigned under this new organization."Having previous experience creating the ACA, I worked closely with the planning team to construct a contracting command that would be a full-fledged, major subordinate command of the AMC," recalled Young. "As ACC was stood up, two subordinate commands were also included, the Mission and Installation Command (formerly the ACA) and the newly formed Expeditionary Contracting Command. Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, who was AMC's commanding general at the time, was absolutely essential in providing the leadership needed to bring all these parts of the organization together."It was during this timeframe that Young faced difficult decisions that impacted the future of Army contracting. Considered in the context of the history of the past decade, Young now realizes that an opportunity existed to accelerate the creation of an independent command."When we established the ACA, there were serious discussions of making it a command that was broader based than originally conceived," he said. "We could have pushed harder to have the decision makers be more aggressive and we would have had the ACC sooner rather than later. I think when the ACA was created, the Army never fully addressed how to handle and manage expeditionary contracting. The force structure created didn't have a solid plan to manage contingency contracting and the results of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan put a stress on a system that wasn't designed to handle it. There was fraud on the part of some deployed contracting personnel and the Army's analysis of the stresses concluded that we needed a better construct and a military deployable force structure to overcome some of the shortcomings of the construct of the ACA."In early 2008, with the stand-up of ACC, Young was appointed the MICC director and a short time later, in November 2008, he accepted a position at APG. He became the executive director and Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting of the Research, Development and Engineering Command Contracting Center, a position he would hold until his retirement, despite some organizational changes throughout his tenure."I had an opportunity to work with a focus on R&D contracting, which was something that I hadn't done much of in the past," Young spoke of his transition to APG. "I worked with some great organizations such as RDECOM, ATEC [Army Test and Evaluation Command] and the tenant organizations on APG. Then came BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] and the decision to merge the two contracting centers at APG [RDECOM and Communication-Electronics Command contracting centers]. I had the opportunity to make one strong organization out of two good organizations. I think it has been a challenge to overcome some of the impacts of BRAC, while at the same time doubling our portfolio and ensuring that we were being properly attentive to all of the customers supported by ACC-APG. And, that has been every bit of a challenge that you could expect to or hope to encounter in a career."Young also noted that this was his most memorable position throughout his career."We maintained a lean overhead staff and had a continued focus on meeting customer expectations, doing what was best for the customer, as well as the Army and the taxpayer."Throughout his 27 years in contracting, Young saw many significant developments and changes in the career field."I think that the Army has grown into a position of needing effective contracting support more so than it ever has in the past," Young pointed out. "We rely more and more on private industry to provide capabilities to the Army compared to years ago when most of those capabilities were in the material development arena. Now, with the advent of contracted services in virtually every aspect of what we do, the Army is inherently dependent upon a significantly sized contractor workforce to deliver this capability."This increased dependence on contracting through the years has also brought a greater demand for Army contracting professionals and Young placed great emphasis on employee development."My greatest accomplishment is not a single thing that you can point to," explained Young. "It's really any time I observed contracting officers performing at high level of proficiency, working with their customers and making sound contracting decisions. It gives me a great deal of pride that we have been able to expand the capacity of the Army by having employees function as full-fledge contracting professionals."Young's advice to new employees of the contracting career field is to learn as much as they can to be well-informed business advisors, understanding how industry functions and operates."Contracting employees need to learn the regulations, but they should be informed by the business proposition of how to apply the regulations," Young advised. "You don't contort the business proposition to fit the regulation. The regulations truly give us flexibility to meet the intent for how to execute contracts, while at the same time meeting customer requirements, and being respectful of the taxpayer."According to Young, he plans to retire to his farm in Pennsylvania with his wife, Mary, and work off his backlog of deferred projects. After completing his "honey do" list, he will then decide on his future endeavors.