REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama - It is easy to stand out among a civilian workforce when you wear an Army uniform.
Enlisted leaders from U.S. Army Materiel Command invited noncommissioned officers from across Team Redstone to visit the Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF, at Barclay Hall to learn how it offers its customers the necessary acquisition tools to aid in executing projects during an NCO professional development, or NCOPD, event Sept. 27.
The purpose to the NCOPD was to give NCOs on Redstone Arsenal a better understanding of the agencies on the installation, as well as their capabilities. Commands represented were Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, Army Contracting Command, U.S. Army Garrison Redstone Arsenal, Fox Army Health Center, 2nd Recruiting Brigade and AMC's Logistics Support Activity.
"The purpose of NCOPD is to coach, teach and mentor NCOs at all levels to develop their understanding of being an NCO and to assist all of them in becoming better leaders," said AMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. George Mike Dove. "NCOPD is a great opportunity for NCOs to interact with people from different organizations and NCOs at all levels. During these sessions, the most junior NCOs have an opportunity to have a face-to-face interaction with some of the most senior NCOs in the Army, to include AMC Command Sgt. Maj. Rodger Mansker.
"Sharing experiences and lessons with other NCOs help all of us become better leaders," he added.
AMC Command Sgt. Maj. Rodger Mansker selected the PIF because of its uniqueness and it works to fill gaps for the Warfighter. He explained how the PIF has the capability to turn ideas into reality quickly and that they selected the Barclay Hall facility to show off those unique capabilities.
The PIF is a government-owned, government-operated facility designed to meet the needs of AMCOM, the Department of Defense and Warfighters for designing, fabricating, installing and testing complex airborne and ground-based systems.
All PIF proposals are developed via the integrated product team approach with each project being assigned a government team leader, segregated by four primary areas: aviation systems, missile systems, research and development, and special projects.
"One thing the PIF is currently working on is the UH-60V [Black Hawk helicopter] software and hardware kits," Dove said. "Once complete, these kits will be sent to Corpus Christi Army Depot for installation on the new UH-60V helicopter. The PIF at Barclay Hall is also working on the Patriot Missile System and enhancing some capabilities of route clearance vehicles to name a few.
"Most of the NCOs in attendance had no idea what was going on inside Barclay Hall," he added. "Now they do and they can see first-hand some of the capabilities we have here at Redstone Arsenal to enhance the Warfighter."
Once a quarter, the commands on Redstone Arsenal have been asked take turns conducting an NCOPD session. With Redstone Arsenal full of laboratories and test facilities most people drive past, enlisted leaders try to find something interesting most NCOs have not seen at a previous duty station as opposed to sitting in a room looking at a PowerPoint presentation.
"I absolutely love the PIF," said Master Sgt. Sophia M. Bulham, AMC G3/G4 NCO. "To me it is a hidden gem. They do a lot of remarkable things here I have never thought about for the Soldiers out in the world to be successful on the battlefield.
"This NCOPD is about teambuilding and getting to know other NCOs on Redstone Arsenal who we don't get to see every day and interact with them," she added. "It is also finding out what they do, what they can teach me and learning when I will see them in the future. This is a great opportunity to find out what they have going on down the road that we can incorporate into whatever unit we may be in."
One participant discussed the camaraderie and the relationships these NCOPDs bring to Team Redstone.
"We are a civilian-heavy installation and we are civilian-heavy organizations and when you are an NCO, you don't always realize how many pieces of equipment are put together for the Soldiers in facilities like this one," said Staff Sgt. Trenton Huntsinger, USASMDC/ARSTRAT operations NCO. "The relationships between the Soldiers and civilians supports these programs; whether it is high-energy laser development or the ingenuity of taking parts and refabricating them here in the PIF. By the civilians doing their jobs, they support Soldiers and we couldn't do our jobs without them. We help each other more than we realize, so by doing events like this where we cross over with civilians and green-suiters is very important."
AMC's senior enlisted leader explained why it is important for those tasked with training Soldiers to be able to come together and understand what each other brings to the table.
"The NCOPD is really about us growing as a noncommissioned officer corps and getting to know each other and know each other's capabilities," Mansker said. "As a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army we have to be able to know each other and talk to each other. This is an opportunity for us to get out in the community inside Redstone Arsenal to show our faces as Soldiers and connect what they do in these labs or engineer facilities and help them understand who we are.
"Visits like this give a little more priority to their importance and pride in what they are doing, so this NCOPD is very important for us," he added.