JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
In order to bolster the contracting proficiency of its NCOs and civilians across its echelons, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command is hosting the 51C Master Gunner Course for nine Soldiers and civilians to compete against each other over 10 days April 4-15 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The MICC MGC is used to evaluate the technical expertise of its contracting workforce through focused training and assessments.
In addition, the MGC validates contracting professionals capable of deploying and operating independently, as part of contracting detachments, as well as part of mobile contracting teams.
The program also establishes a validated pool of external evaluators capable of conducting evaluations at the contracting detachment level.
“The Master Gunner program is an NCO-led initiative that began in the 409th Contracting Support Brigade at Sembach Kaserne, Germany,” said Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Tollett, 922nd Contracting Battalion sergeant major at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who facilitated the development of the Master Gunner program. “The Master Gunner initiative in its original form served as a tool to train and certify brigade internal evaluation assessors. Over time, the program evolved to encompass evaluation assessor certification as well as acting as a talent management tool to identify some of the most proficient Soldiers and civilians in our formation.”
Master gunners are validated contracting professionals who are capable of conducting contracting support brigades’ subtasks including collecting and maintaining operational contract support analysis of the operational environment and assisting supported units with developing contract support integration efforts as part of a brigade staff at the corps and theater levels.
“Master gunners are also expected to act as the custodians of 51C professional development programs at the CSB level as a member of support operations, and are capable of acting as a liaison to major requiring activities such as theater sustainment commands on theater-wide contracting solutions,” said Master Sgt. Eric Redfearn, an operations NCO for the 408th CSB from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, who worked on the development of the program. “The course supports the Army Contracting Command’s mission to deliver the power of Army contracting to win – everyday, anywhere, every time.”
For civilians, it introduces them to the operational side of contracting support that they do not necessarily get exposed to as much as Soldiers.
“This is the first iteration of this program under the MICC, but personnel who competed in previous iterations in the 409th CSB have confirmed the beneficial impact of this extremely challenging course on their career,” Tollet said. “Many have prepared themselves to hold higher warrant levels and briefed general officers using the information they obtained from attending the Master Gunner Course.”
During the competition, participants will receive seven days of instruction that will culminate in two days of testing, decision briefs to senior leaders and a review board similar to a $6.5 million contracting officer review board, totaling 10 days of overall course engagement.
This year’s participants are Eric Chaney from MICC-Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Lilian Rodriguez from MICC-Fort Carson, Colorado; Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Barbour from the 923rd CBN at Fort Riley, Kansas; Sgt. 1st Class Charles Cryoskie from the 918th CBN at Fort Carson, Colorado; Sgt. 1st Class David Timmons from the 925th CBN at Fort Drum, New York; Staff Sgt. Ida Kian from the 919th CBN at Fort Bliss, Texas; Staff Sgt. Stephen Mosley from the 922nd CBN at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Staff Sgt. Shawn Munro from the 922nd CBN; and Staff Sgt. Joseph Painter from the 901st CBN at Fort Hood, Texas.
The MGC validates an individual’s technical expertise in the field of contracting for the purpose of talent management. The program prepares individuals to assist brigade commanders in assessing contracting detachments in their standards of training proficiency, serves as a talent management tool to identify high performers in each contracting office or battalion, and fosters an esprit de corps through competition.
The competition is comprised of four culminating events worth a total of 150 points. A competitor must score a minimum total of 120 points and pass a Master Gunner Contracting Officer Review Board, or CORB, to be certified as a 51C Master Gunner. Competitors who obtain the required points and pass the CORB may obtain a $6.5 million warrant based on operational need and command endorsement.
During the completion, each candidate will take a written test based on the materials reviewed during the eight days of training and materials competitors received prior to attending the event. The written test will have a total of 50 points possible. Each competitor will also prepare two 15- to 20-minute decision briefs, worth 25 points each. The briefing topic will be operational contract support or direct contract support related, and scenarios will be provided for each decision brief.
During the CORB, competitors will answer questions on general contracting knowledge that concentrate on simplified acquisitions. They are vetted against the same criteria for attendance of a $6.5 million CORB in accordance with ACC policies and procedures, the MICC Contracting Officer Warranting Program, and ACC- and MICC-approved CORB questions during the event. Board members will then rank order candidates and award points in the overall competition.
“The desired end state of the MGP is to build a pool of validated contracting professionals who are well versed in operational contract support and able to deploy forward in emergent situations,” said Master Sgt. Judith Rocha, who is serving as the MICC operations directorate sergeant major. “They will also be able to provide superior contracting support, serve as mentors to contracting organizations, assist commanders in executing mission essential task assessments, assist in acting as a validated contracting professional to liaison with major supported organizations, and assist in procurement management review assessments.”
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,300 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitating training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.