Army to double its specialized acquisition workforce

Despite looming cuts to its budget and troop levels, the Army will continue to grow in some areas, including contracting, according to a Defense Department release.

Officials from the Army Acquisition Support Center said the number of soldiers in the contracting military occupational specialty, which is open to officers and enlisted soldiers, will double by the end of 2013.

Those who are selected join the Army Acquisition Corps, which has different areas that need officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted soldiers. Once selected and assigned, soldiers specializing in contracting deploy with units and help relay soldiers’ needs in the field to commanders and up the chain of command.

“You are the procurement guy for the guys in the field,” said Army Acquisition Support Center’s Maj. Anthony Maneri. “You also are a business advisor to the battalion or brigade or division commander.”

That means that although no unit deploys with every last item it may need, the contract specialists work in teams of four – a major, a captain and two non-commissioned officers – to get the soldiers whatever is necessary, whether it’s more water or new technology.

According to the DOD release, it was contracting specialists who helped deployed troops quickly get improvised explosive device jammers back in 2003 and 2004. It was a catalyst for the trade, Maneri noted.

“In the early days, commanders weren’t sure what we could do for them,” he said. “After a few successes, warfighters started understanding the other aspects that we could offer to help them do their jobs.”

About the Author: Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering defense and national security for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Feb. 9, 2012 at http://fcw.com/articles/2012/02/09/army-growing-contractor-specialty-workforce.aspx.