As Cyberspace Operations has become more prominent within the Army, requirements ensuring the Army has cyber tools on hand to pace the threat and doing so in an expedited fashion was a challenge placed on the Product Manager Information Warfare (PdM IW) office.

That task -- deliver a high priority cyber capability in less than a year. The solution -- assign it to James Kettner, a Computer Engineer assigned to PdM IW. The result - Kettner and his team triumphed in meeting the task at hand, which served as the impetus behind the DoD 2018 Defense Acquisition Workforce Individual Achievement Award, which he received on February 5.

The award was established to recognize excellent performance by members of the acquisition workforce with 17 categories to include "top engineer", which Kettner earned. In announcing the awardees, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord said, "It is imperative to recognize the outstanding contributions of our defense acquisition professionals who are critical in supporting our warfighter and the defense mission".

According to Kettner's nomination he had overall responsibility for the engineering and delivery of high-priority cyberspace capabilities, to include delivering multiple capabilities requested via an Operational Need Statements (ONS) to rapidly deliver the Rapid Cyber Development Network (RCDN) supporting the Cyber-Tool Development Environment & Platform (CT-DEP) capabilities with the goal of providing the first materiel solution within one year. In addition to delivering an initial capability in only 11 months, Kettner and his team were able to save more than $14 million in hardware, operations and support costs by leveraging capabilities provided by other DoD service providers.

The RCDN provides a 24/7 service that is essential for every day functions of Soldiers within the Cyber Operations arena.

In reflecting on the success of the program Kettner credits his "immensely talented and hard-working program team", the latitude and flexibility that was afforded to him by the PdM IW and higher headquarters leadership, a demanding but engaged user community, and a small set of key enabling service providers.

"It is quite an honor and a challenge to live up to this award that leadership bestowed on me," said Kettner. "There was a confluence of supporting events that made this happen from the support of our industry partners and leadership that pushed us on delivering product to the warfighter along with the testing community providing exceptional services allowing us to get to IOC (Initial Operating Capability) in a rapid fashion."
Kettner, a former Air Force Cyberspace Operations Officer and programmer, also spent time with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) prior to transitioning to PdM IW two years ago. When asked why he chose to continue to apply his expertise in support of the DoD Kettner shared, "I love my country and this work really interests me."