Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols has come a long way since enlisting in the Army in 1975 in her hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

On Thursday she reached the pinnacle of her career by becoming the first commanding general in the four-year history of the Army Contracting Command.

"It's hard to describe," Nichols said after her assumption of command ceremony on the Activity Field. "It's really such an honor, something totally unexpected. It's very emotional in some ways because of where I started in the Army to reach this level and assume this responsibility."

She succeeded Dr. Carol Lowman, who became ACC's second executive director in September 2011. Lowman, who previously served as deputy director, is now the command's deputy commander.

In 2007 the secretary of the Army formed an independent commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations, also known as the Gansler Commission, to review recent lessons learned and recommend improvements to future military operations. In compliance with these recommendations, on Oct. 1, 2008, the Army recognized the formal establishment of the Army Contracting Command as a major subordinate command of the Army Materiel Command.

"I'm an Army civilian," Lowman said. "I'm very proud and honored to have led the Army Contracting Command."

Nichols, who was commissioned as an engineer officer upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1981, said becoming ACC's commander is an "indescribable honor."
Army Materiel Command commander Gen. Ann Dunwoody officiated at the ceremony. During the ceremonial passing of the colors, the organizational flag was handed from ACC's Command Sgt. Maj. John Murray to Lowman to Dunwoody to Nichols and back to Murray.

"Today we get to thank Dr. Lowman for the incredible job she's done leading the command this past year," Dunwoody said.

She said Lowman is "one of our AMC superstars" and Nichols is "a trailblazer in her own right."

An international business enterprise, the Army Contracting Command awarded more than 198,000 contracts in fiscal 2011 valued at more than $86.9 billion, which is equal to 68 percent of the Army's contract dollars and 16 percent of the total dollars spent on contracts by the entire federal government. ACC accomplishes this with more than 6,300 military and civilian employees at more than 115 locations worldwide.