By Kathryn Bailey, U.S. Army RDECOM Communications-Electronics CenterJuly 25, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- A promise to accelerate technologies into the hands of Soldiers set an early career course for the Army's newest member of its Senior Executive Service, or SES.
Christopher P. Manning joined the ranks of SES during a July 18 ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Manning serves as the director of the Command, Power and Integration Directorate, or CP&ID, which falls under the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Communications-Electronics Center.
In this position, he oversees the development and enhancement of unique core competencies in mission command; positioning, navigation and timing; operational energy; and rapid and iterative prototyping.
The U.S. Government established the SES in 1978 to be a core of executives who serve in key government positions that are not filled by top presidential appointees. SES members, who make up just two percent of the government workforce, are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the federal workforce.
"Members of the SES hold a special position of trust in our US government," said ceremony host, RDECOM Commanding General, Major General Cedric T. Wins.
"Our SES's are people who have the experience, the education, and the technical expertise needed to make sound judgements about billions of dollars, and more importantly, about the lives of Soldiers and the success of our Army."
Wins stated that Manning has proven himself capable of making those kinds of judgements, which is one of the reasons why he was chosen as "the point person" to help RDECOM's eventual transition to the Army's Future Command.
"I personally handpicked Chris to be the leader of the biggest organizational change to come to the Army in more than 40 years because I know he is the right person to set the conditions for RDECOM as we transition from the Army Material Command to the Army Future's Command," he said.
Manning -- who was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Signal Corps, through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Michigan State University -- began his career with the Army as the Communications Platoon Leader for 4th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery (PATRIOT) at Fort Lewis, Washington. His career then led to assignments for the 22nd Signal Brigade in Darmstadt, Germany, and commander of the 578th Signal Company, which included a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His last military assignment was Assistant Product Manager, Firefinder Radars, at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
As an Army Civilian, he served as Chief Engineer, then Deputy Product Manager, for Product Manager Global Positioning Systems, or GPS, before being chartered as the first Project Director for Communications Security under Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications -- Tactical, or PEO C3T. In 2013, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the Deputy Director Forward Operations for the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army -- Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
Upon his return, Manning was the Deputy Chief of Staff for PEO C3T before serving as the division chief of the RDECOM Communications-Electronic Center's Prototyping, Integration and Testing Division.
Following the SES oath, presentation of the SES flag, pin ceremony and special presentations to his family, Manning thanked the attendees and shared that every person he has crossed paths with throughout his military and civilian career has positively influenced his life.
"Over my career, I have tried to approach every day as an opportunity to learn and grow, as a leader, as a person, as a husband, as a father," he said.
Manning's goal-oriented persona pushed him forward to advance his career, yet he felt like he "wasn't getting anywhere" because there was "always another goal to set, another target to meet," until he was assigned to the S-3 shop in the 22nd Signal brigade and found his purpose: accelerating technology to Soldiers.
"That became my "why," my reason to come to work every day full of energy."
Manning set his wheels in motion to be an acquisition corps officer, which eventually led him to clarify his goals to not just accelerate technologies, but to make a difference in the world by accelerating "game-changing technologies."
Manning said he also worked hard to lead and mentor others so that they too could find their purpose, and his reach-out extended to operational units to better understand their needs and the needs of today's Army.
"In the end, I came to realize it isn't about choosing between setting goals or serving a purpose, or choosing between serving a purpose or making a difference," he said. "It is about leveraging all three to make an impact for the Army. My commitment is to be focused on making a difference for the Army, its members, and our country."
Manning concluded his remarks, indicating his intent to leverage his purpose-driven leadership style to propel forward with the Army's rapidly changing modernization goals.
"To whomsoever much is given, much is expected," he said. "I have a lot left to give, and I am honored to serve the U. S. Army, the team that makes a difference."
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Communications-Electronics Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.