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NEWS | April 21, 2022

Mission and Installation Contracting Command’s 51C Master Gunner Course wraps up

By Ryan Mattox Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs

Nine Mission and Installation Contracting Command Soldiers and civilians were recognized following 10 days of mastering their contracting proficiency in the 51C Master Gunner Course during a ceremony April 15 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

During the ceremony, all nine participants received certificates of completion, and Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Barbour, a contract specialist from the 923rd Contracting Battalion at Fort Riley, Kansas, was named top master gunner.

Barbour came in first place with a score of 141 out of 150 points. He distinguished himself by scoring the highest in the class in two of the three categories: the written test and the contracting officer's review board.

Lilian Rodriquez, a contract specialist with MICC-Fort Carson, Colorado, was the runner-up, scoring 130 out of 150 points.

Brig. Gen. Doug Lowrey opened the ceremony by speaking directly to the participants regarding their importance to the MICC and transferring what they have learned in the course to others in their organizations. He said each one of them has the skill, intelligence and mentality to be master gunners. He continued that they had the intelligence before they came to the course, they learned some new things, but they need to take that mentality to their duty locations because they are the future, and the people they will train are the future.

The MICC Master Gunner Course, or MGC, evaluates the technical expertise of its contracting workforce and validates contracting professionals capable of deploying and operating independently. The program also establishes a validated pool of external evaluators capable of conducting assessing individuals at the contracting detachment level.

“The contracting professionals we had here have done an outstanding job representing themselves and their organizations at the MICC's first Master Gunner Program,” said Master Sgt. Eric Redfearn, an operations NCO for the 408th Contracting Support Brigade from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and an instructor for the course. “The course was designed to be extremely challenging. It has been great to see the participants rise to the occasion.”

Barbour said the most challenging portion of the MGC was the decision brief.

“The decision brief was the most challenging due to trying to find courses of action for the scenarios and researching all of the possible avenues that are available to support our course of action,” Barbour said.

Rodriquez added the best part of this course was the networking opportunity.

“The ability to learn from the other students as much as the instructors was key,” Rodriquez said. “The different levels of contracting experience from everyone were the best teaching point; learning from other people’s real-life experience is priceless.”

Barbour also agreed the networking experience the course provided was invaluable.

“It gave me the tools that I need to help train new incoming personnel and integrate new ideas to help solve contracting issues that may arise,” Barbour said. “It also gave me a new group of NCOs who I can network with as well as the course instructors who I can reach out to in case I need help or have a question.”

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 the custodians of 51C professional development programs at the contracting support brigade 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.

“After attending the training given by the subject matter experts from across the MICC, course graduates will return to their units prepared to deliver comprehensive contracting solutions to our mission partners throughout their respective areas of operations,” Redfearn said.

The MGC validates an individual’s technical expertise in the field of contracting for the purpose of talent management. The program prepares individuals to also 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.

“I would recommend MGC to my peers; the course really teaches you about yourself and your potential and capabilities as a leader and a team player,” Rodriquez said. “It really focused on helping you find your strengths and weaknesses so that you can also identify that in your team and therefore be a better leader -- understand yourself and understand your people.”

The other participants were Eric Chaney from MICC-Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; 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.