Last week marked a significant milestone in the transformation of Aberdeen Proving Ground. On July 27, the Senior Service College Fellowship of the Defense Acquisition University opened its doors to the inaugural 2009-2010 class.

The SSCF is a 10-month program designed to develop senior civilian leaders in the Army Acquisition Corps in preparation to assume positions of greater responsibilities with expanded spans of control.

Fellows benefit from a unique learning environment which encompasses program management training, hands-on field trips and interactive workshops.

It's equivalent to the Army War College opening its doors on post.

As APG becomes an even greater player in the Army's science and technology arena, having a local capability to train Acquisition Corps members to perform better in a complex and often ambiguous strategic environment is a tremendous asset for the installation. It is also a great opportunity for the workforce.

We now have an executive level course that offers a one-of-a-kind approach to gaining competencies such as leadership effectiveness, integration and collaboration, and effective stakeholder relationships necessary to address program challenges and dilemmas in the acquisition field. Therefore, this venue will allow us to develop civilian acquisition leaders in preparation for roles as product and project managers, program executive officers and other key acquisition positions.

Aberdeen Proving Ground becomes only the third location for the Defense Acquisition University's SSCF Program. It began three years ago in Huntsville, Ala., as a pilot program and followed with a similar program in Warren, Mich., a year later. Yet, each site is distinctly unique.

It will be unique in that each of our program's fellows will play an instrumental role in the others' personal development as they bring their knowledge and insights to examine thorny issues important to the role APG is now playing.

I am pleased to recognize the participation of Medhat Abuhantash, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command; Richard Cozby and Anthony Subrizi, Future Combat Systems (Brigade Combat Team); William Gilbert, Sharon Meirose, and Deirdre Sumpter, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; Dr. Jason Lane, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; and Christopher Manning, Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors.

These eight fellows will follow an intensive course of rigorous study and, upon graduation, become the building blocks of a new generation of APG leaders.

Congratulations to the eight fellows of Defense Acquisition University's first Senior Service College Fellowship class on APG.