JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The Army is now granting noncommissioned officers who successfully complete the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Master Gunner Course a personnel development skill identifier code recognizing the increased capability they bring to the service’s sustainment requirements.
The personnel development skill identifier code, or PDSI, is used, in combination with an enlisted member’s military occupational specialty, to identify unique skills, training or experience obtained during their careers that add value to the Army and organization in carrying out a mission.
A Sept. 14, 2023, memo from the Department of the Army Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel established PDSI C6M for Soldiers completing the MICC Master Gunner Course. The memo served as notification of implementation into a future change to Department of the Army Pamphlet 611-21, Military Occupational Classification and Structure. It also designates the MICC, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as the PDSI code proponent.
Master gunners are traditionally seen in the combat arms realm of the Army. Contracting Soldiers in the 51C career field is the first among the sustainment warfighter functions to obtain an identifier for such a skill, opening a new field of thought and theory.
The current structure for the contracting career field only has one identifier for NCOs - the battle staff NCO. A battle-staff NCO holds a higher grasp of the tactical features of the Army. The new PDSI highlights the technical and tactical experts in contracting, now reflected in personnel records updated through the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army.
Army contracting NCOs
Contracting is a bit different than most career fields in that rank and time in the career field are not necessarily indicators of technical readiness. The MICC Master Gunner Course grew out of necessity and traces its inception to the 409th Contracting Support Brigade at Sembach Kaserne, Germany, as an initiative to train and certify brigade-level internal evaluation assessors before evolving to encompass evaluation assessor certification.
Senior enlisted leaders at the 408th Contracting Support Brigade at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and the 922nd Contracting Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, then next built upon the course to leverage its value as a talent management tool to identify and develop Soldiers and civilian employees in the contracting career field. MICC leaders adopted this tool as an enterprise-wide workforce development solution, fielding its first two-week course for nine Soldiers and one civilian employee in April 2022.
The MICC Master Gunner Program has transformed with the needs of the Army, but the foundation is as it has always been - to objectively evaluate each team member’s ability to deploy tonight.
Increased technical readiness
In mid-September 2023, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy Goerge identified four focus areas aimed at maintaining readiness. Those include warfighting, continuous transformation, strengthening the profession and delivering ready combat formations.
The Master Gunner Program nests well with all four focus areas by objectively measuring the technical readiness of the individual contracting professional. It strengthens the profession by design. Readiness in contracting is more than just physical and medical readiness - it is also technical readiness. High levels of technical readiness can only be achieved in the “trenches” - getting out there and making the mission happen by executing contracting support across the full spectrum of operations.
Understanding the technical readiness aspect is the key to the MICC Master Gunner Program. Through fiscal year 2023, the MICC Master Gunner Program has graduated 30 military members with a slate of classes on schedule for the fiscal year 2024. An additional five master gunners consist of cadre who developed the course. Those who have already completed the course are being grandfathered with the PDSI code, which becomes effective Nov. 1, 2023.
Master gunners, at their respective locations, evaluate each individual’s technical readiness based on training and real-world experiences. The evaluation allows them to build a training and experience strategy focusing on any deficiencies. This increased individual technical proficiency strategically impacts readiness at echelon, whether that be at the contracting detachment, battalion, brigade or center level. This ensures contracting professionals are not only ready to support warfighting but also fight by delivering combat-ready contracting formations.
Another 10 Army civilian employees in the acquisition career series have also graduated from the MICC Master Gunner Program, returning to their respective installation contracting offices armed with greater knowledge to better assess contracting challenges in the workplace and work with leadership to present solutions. Civilian employes who also serve as 51Cs in the Reserve or National Guard are also entitled to the C6M PDSI.
PDSI codes fall into one of three categories and may be used to track individual skill sets. Those categories include a permanent PDSI code for a unique skill set required for identification in a personnel system for more than three years; temporary PDSI codes for those possessing unique skills to be identified in personnel systems not exceeding three years; and a PDSI for Reserve component mobilization for training or individual skill training.
Contracting NCOs accomplishing the MICC Master Gunner Course possess a permanent PDSI.
(Editor's note: Article originally published by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center.)