REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--After congratulating Army Contracting Command's senior leaders for an outstanding fiscal year 2017 close-out, Gen. Gus Perna told them to "keep rowing hard."Perna, the U.S. Army Materiel Command commander, was one of several guest speakers at the ACC Senior Leaders Forum Oct. 17-18. ACC is an AMC subordinate command. He said the contracting community needs to continue to improve as it drives toward operationalizing contracting."We've made a lot of progress in the last 12 to 18 months, but we need to continue to improve," Perna said.Soldiers and Army civilians need to understand that "Army's exist for two reasons: to prepare for war and to execute war," he said. "We need to know where our Army is going and how we fit into the big picture."Contracting leaders also need to be aware of what is happening in their operating environments and how contracting enables the warfighter in those environments, according to Perna. He referred to Army operations in Korea, Europe and the Middle East as key examples.He thanked the contracting workforce for its "Herculean effort" in closing out fiscal year 2017's business. ACC executed more than 165,000 contract actions valued at more than $62 billion. Perna said, that enables Army readiness."You should be proud," he said. "I'm really proud of what you do every day. Keep rowing hard."The forum focused on enabling Army readiness through contracting. Attendees included the Mission and Installation Contracting Command commander and command sergeant major, ACC's contracting center executive directors, ACC contracting support brigade commanders and command sergeants major and members of the ACC headquarters staff.Stuart Hazlett, newly-appointed deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Procurement, participated in both days of the forum. He told attendees he would be their advocate for acquisition reform, but he needs their help."DASA-P is a reflection of all of you." he explained. "I can't help you if I don't know you need help. Communication is the key. We are going to talk across all of the contracting commands--we have to."He encouraged attendees to look at processes and procedures, ask themselves what isn't value-added, then elevate those concerns up the chain of command. He also told them not all reforms will apply across the board."There will be reform initiatives that apply to one priority but won't apply to others," he said.Participants discussed a variety of contracting, acquisition and leadership issues. In his closing comments, Maj. Gen. James E. Simpson, ACC commander, told the leaders they had plenty to think about on their trips home.'We covered a lot of ground in two packed days," he said. "Think about what you are going to take back to your organizations to work on. There's plenty here to do; what are you going to focus on?"