REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --For the main purpose of the week he may have been in town for a symposium, but for the afternoon of March 25, the Under Secretary of the Army was in town for the acquisition community, and they were not letting the opportunity pass them by.

The Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy spoke at an acquisition and contracting town hall Monday to a large selection of representatives from every command throughout Huntsville at the Bob Jones Auditorium here.

McCarthy is the secretary of the Army's senior civilian assistant and principal advisor on matters relating to the management and operation of the Army, which includes development and integration of Army programs and budget. He is responsible for the effective and efficient organization of the Army's operations and initiatives for business transformation. All of those responsibilities touch the acquisition and contracting community, making the town hall a perfect forum for him to speak directly to and with an audience interested in his daily mission.

Under Secretary McCarthy was confirmed to his present position in August 2017 and served as the Acting Secretary of the Army from the time of his appointment until November 2017. Prior to his arrival at the Pentagon he had a number of government and private sector positions in policy development, procurement, supply chain management and sustainment, engineering, business management, defense acquisition, and national security. Leveraging that vast experience, he now helps lead one of the world's largest purchasing organizations, the Department of the Army.

He is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and served in the Army for five years, to include a tour in Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment. He has a Master's Degree in Business Administration and has worked for a banking corporation and commercial defense industry, among other non-government organizations.

"He most certainly knows what it's like to be a Soldier," said Maj. Gen. Paul Pardew, the commanding general of the Army Contracting Command, who introduced McCarthy. "He most certainly knows what it's like to be a businessman. It's no surprise that with his broad education and experience he is recognized as one of our nation's most qualified leaders."

While McCarthy was on Redstone, he also visited the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/ Army Forces Strategic Command, where Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, provided an update on the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser and the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator. The Under Secretary of the Army also received updates from Maj. Gen. Neil Thurgood, director, Army Hypersonic
Project Office and Willie Nelson, director, Assured Positioning, Navigation,
and Timing, Cross-Functional Team.

The town hall, however, gave him a chance to speak to the largest audience and directly to the workforce of multiple organizations at once.

During it, McCarthy stressed the need to understand business processes and simplify the way business is run in order to become leaner and more efficient.

He answered many questions about Army Futures Command and how it will affect the role of Army Contracting Command, speaking about AFC's goal to accelerate the acquisition process. He also encouraged everyone in the room to remember their role when it came down to the important projects AFC was facing.

"Every program is important," McCarthy said. "If you're not working on the most important one, you are supporting it."

Closing out the acquisition town hall, McCarthy ended with a message that will likely be a mantra for the Army and all of its workforce for many years, and one Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal hopes to continually hear.

"Embrace modernization choices," he said as he thanked Alabama for hosting him. "This community will be at the forefront of changes."