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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (July 28, 2021) - If you ask Col. Steven Ansley what his job entails, he can sum it up pretty succinctly: solving problems.

Sounds pretty easy. But the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center doesn’t do easy. Cracking complex problems is kind of their thing. Luckily its new military deputy has 30 years in uniform to draw on for experience.

Ansley came to DEVCOM AvMC in July from his previous position as chief of staff at the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. It is actually not his first time at Redstone Arsenal, nor with DEVCOM. Ansley has returned to the Rocket City for a third time and if he has his say, it will be where he and his wife retire once his military service is completed. It is a military service started out as a two-year enlistment as a pathway to college tuition.

“I wanted to be a tanker and go to Germany,” Ansley said. “They said, not for a two-year enlistment. Well, what can I do? You can either do infantry or combat engineer. So I enlisted as a combat engineer bridge crewman. I mean, it’s fun to blow things up, but I also got to drive boats and build floating bridges at Fort Carson, Colorado.”

The Illinois native said he didn’t plan to spend his career in active-duty service and tongue firmly in cheek, questions anyone that would. Military life is not easy. But the young Soldier knew when the United States Military Academy accepted him as a cadet, opportunities opened. The opportunity to become an officer, the opportunity to train to be an Army helicopter pilot, and eventually the opportunity to marry a fellow USMA classmate, Lisa, who had her own successful military career before deciding to stay home with their two daughters.

Ansley would eventually get to Germany and many more duty assignments across the world. It is not a surprise that both of the Ansley daughters are following in the example of their parents – and their grandfathers and great uncle, Vietnam veterans, and three great-grandfathers, members of the Greatest Generation. Both girls are attending Norwich University in Vermont, on four-year Army ROTC scholarships. The family has always embraced adventure – the type that comes with both military life and the great outdoors – which makes the hills of North Alabama a perfect fit.

“Everyone is hooked on hiking,” Ansley said. “This place is amazing for hiking. When we moved back, we moved over in the Hampton Cove area because of all of the Land Trust areas – Monte Sano, Green Mountain, all of those areas. Every weekend we are usually out hiking with the dogs.”

Ansley holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the Naval Post Graduate School. After seven years in operational Army aviation units, Ansley transitioned into the Army Acquisition Corps in 2001 and was assigned to Redstone as an assistant product manager within the Aviation Ground Support Equipment team – one month before the 9/11 attacks. He said that coming from the field to a big corporate-style office building was a big adjustment - and then even that environment changed with the heightened security after the attacks. He returned as a product manager in 2011.

As for leadership style, Ansley said that over his decades as an officer, he has developed an open door, collaborative method. While collaboration looks different now with the telework model adopted by AvMC during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ansley believes that it is the exchange of ideas that is important, not the proximity of those ideas, whether they are in-person or via a Teams meeting.

“My biggest goal is to be an effective integrator, between all of the different directorate teams and the AvMC team as a whole. I don’t have a technical background so I have to rely on people who are experts and know what they are doing. I am going to be asking people questions and what they think. I don’t think you can make a good informed decision unless you have gotten those opinions.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.