When opportunity knocked, an international program manager with the Security Assistance Management Directorate opened the door and let it in, temporarily doubling the number of foreign military sales (FMS) customers she was supporting.
Yana Edwards, a team lead in SAMD’s Non-Standard Missile Systems Program Branch, recently earned recognition as one of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command’s Most Valuable Players for the work she did during a temporary vacancy.
“One of our teammates retired, and I asked her to help -- she took on two more countries’ cases,” said Gregory L. Robinson, chief of SAMD’s Non-Standard Missile Systems Program Branch, who nominated Edwards for the MVP award. “I’m big on positivity and positive attitudes – and Yana is very professional, tackles any challenge put in front of her and does it with no complaints. She’s one of my most-dependable employees.
“Now, that the vacant position is filled, she’s mentoring that new employee, helping them learn about how we develop and manage FMS cases,” Robinson added.
Security Assistance Management Directorate staff help develop and manage FMS cases involving helicopters and missile systems. They coordinate with other U.S. departments/agencies to help U.S. allies and partner nations get the military systems they need to protect themselves from neighboring threats, improve their nations’ readiness and enhance interoperability with U.S. forces.
The Non-Standard Missile Systems Program Branch supports nations whose FMS packages include weapons systems no longer used by the U.S. military. Edwards supports four partner-nations in East Asia and the Middle East that use the Hawk and Chaparral surface-to-air missile defense systems. These systems were removed from U.S. Army service during the late-1990s.
International foreign military sales program management is a second career field for Edwards.
After 10 years as a respiratory therapist in an over-saturated market with few growth opportunities, she decided to venture into something different and knocked on SAMD’s door in 2009 when applying for an entry-level logistics management specialist position.
Doors of opportunity for career growth are plentiful in SAMD for those with the right credentials, so she went to night school to achieve a Bachelor of Science in business management in 2011 from Athens State University in Athens, Alabama. While working full-time, she continued to pursue more education during non-duty hours, and in 2015 she earned a Master of Science in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology by attending classes offered on Redstone Arsenal and its Huntsville campus.
“I enjoy what I do for SAMD -- I get to use my brain differently than when I was in the medical field,” Edwards said. “I often encounter challenges when working with multiple countries’ needs for weapons systems no longer used by our Army. There are obsolescence issues when trying to find existing parts that are no longer made by the original manufacturer, or working with a contractor to fabricate a substitute that will meet the customer’s need. I really like being part of a team solving problems like that.”