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NEWS | Aug. 31, 2023

Empowering tomorrow’s defense through strategic acquisition expertise

By Master Sgt. Samuel Chen Office of the Chief of Army Reserve

The Army Reserve and the Army National Guard brought together more than 120 Army Reserve, National Guard, and Active-Duty Acquisition Soldiers for the 2023 annual Reserve Component Acquisition Training Summit. Held at Fort Belvoir from July 27 to July 29, the summit was a platform for acquisition professionals, encompassing the 51A and 51C military occupational specialties to exchange ideas, best practices, and strategic insights under the theme of "Acquisition Excellence in Army Modernization."

Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General of the Army Reserve, initiated the opening ceremony on day one. During her address to the attendees, she stated, "It doesn't matter what we train for, where we're called to go, or what we set our minds to do as a force. It all begins and ends with your efforts. It's not by chance that your crest has the Alpha and the Omega. My top priority is tough, realistic training done safely. The work you do with industry and international partners, develops and delivers the tools and equipment the Army Reserve needs to get the job done."

The three-day training summit encompassed a diverse range of activities including seminars, training sessions, and networking opportunities. The event offered a valuable chance for attendees to connect with peers and senior leaders, fostering collaboration and enhancing the overall efficiency of acquisition processes.

“The best part of the summit has been networking with the Soldiers,” Col Keith G. Harley, Director Acquisition Integration Office, said. “You get to see and talk to people, to ask those tough questions about your career and how you progress. You're also given some guidance to help you in your career and in your job. You have a plethora of expertise at these summits.”

This sentiment underscores the pivotal role of networking in the acquisition community, where the ability to forge meaningful relationships and tap into a diverse pool of knowledge often paves the way for innovative solutions and informed decision-making. The summit's focus on networking fosters a collaborative environment where participants share experiences, insights, and challenges.

One of the central objectives of this gathering was the sharing of best practices and lessons learned among professionals engaged in military acquisition. This initiative aimed to improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of the Army Reserve and National Guard, ensuring their capabilities align seamlessly with those of their active-duty counterparts.

“If you are in acquisitions, I would recommend that you send a representative to this summit so that you hear firsthand the challenges and opportunities that compo two (National Guard) and compo three (Army Reserve) are experiencing in the field of acquisition, says Brigadier General Kendrick D. Traylor, Military Deputy to the Director of Acquisitions. “It would be a great eyeopener for future policy development and force structure to see how the rubber hits the road at the field level.”

A significant highlight of the summit was the participation of the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), which contributed insights on crucial topics such as contract strategy, intellectual property, and acquisition strategy development. DAU's expertise, stemming from both prior military experience and contemporary policies, enriched the discussions and provided attendees with a well-rounded perspective on acquisition practices.

Mr. Stephen Sullivan, Chief Financial Officer and Director for Resources, Installations, and Materiel Office of the Chief of Army Reserve, expressed his enthusiasm for DAU's contribution, stating, "DAU was a great addition to this year's acquisition summit because they have expertise not only from prior military service but also the kind of cutting-edge policies and theory that DAU was able to provide, as well as key speakers from across OSD, the national guard, and army reserve to give that senior leader perspective on what the priorities are to support operational missions." Sullivan further emphasized, "We have seniors who are engaged and understand the challenges that we have with acquisition and contracting."

Throughout the summit, an overarching focus was on modernizing the Army acquisition career field and aligning resources to ensure the Army Reserve and National Guard have the necessary funding to remain on par with their active-duty counterparts. Brig Gen. Stephanie Q. Howard, Executive Director of Operational Contract Support, encapsulated the significance of this effort.

"It is challenging for the acquisition community but exceedingly important that they have a seat at the table,” Brig. Gen. Howard stated. “That compo three soldier, the reserve soldier, is there to say hey, we need this, we are going to deploy together. You know that we are going to be shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield, and if our radios don't speak to your radios, or if our trucks are not giving us the same capabilities as your trucks, there's going to be a problem."

The 2023 Army Reserve Acquisition Summit underscored the commitment of Army Reserve leaders to enhance acquisition practices, fostering a more agile and responsive military force equipped for the challenges of modern warfare. By facilitating collaboration, sharing insights, and prioritizing resource allocation, the summit paved the way for continued advancements in Army modernization efforts.