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Home : News : News
NEWS | April 23, 2024

MICC graduates contract leaders, master gunner courses

By Tish Williamson, MICC Senior Public Affairs Specialist Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs

Nearly two dozen contracting professionals gathered for a combined graduation ceremony hosted by the Mission and Installation Contracting Command deputy to the commanding general, Clay Cole, April 15 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Fifteen Soldiers and civilians from the sixth iteration of the MICC Master Gunner Course and six civilians from the third iteration of the MICC Contracting Leaders Course earned certificates of course completion and general officer star notes of congratulations, presented on behalf of the MICC commanding general, Maj. Gen. Doug Lowrey.

“On behalf of the entire command, I congratulate you on making your professional development a priority,” Cole said before issuing certificates to each graduate. “What we do is important, and learning how to master all that is asked of you is priceless.”

The courses are two of many training opportunities MICC conducts for Soldiers and employees of differing experience. The master gunner and leader courses target contracting professionals with five to 10 years of contracting knowledge and mid-grade leaders with varying lengths of service, respectively.

Since its inception in October 2023, the contracting battalion commanders, command sergeants major and contracting office directors selected to attend the contracting leaders course, are challenged to learn, and then apply best contracting leadership practices, foundations and skills in the four-day course. Graduates of the course are expected to develop new ways of thinking, planning, preparing and executing contracting operations.

“We don’t have the advantage of having everyone centrally located in the same center,” Cole said, adding that he realizes traveling from their home stations for optional training can be challenging for leaders. “Though there is uniqueness in issues or priorities, because of our acquisition mission, there is also a sameness that must be discussed to ensure a cohesive contracting process. The leader course is the best venue to share best contracting leader practices for the benefit of the entire enterprise.”

Cole also told ceremony attendees that the leader course is currently intended to orient new leaders, though there is consideration to allow deputy directors to attend in the near future.

“One of the main benefits of attending this course is getting to meet the MICC headquarters staff and interact directly with your peers,” Cole said. “Your deputies will benefit from that experience as well.”

While attendees in the leader course were not measured based on a point system of grades, students in the highly academic MICC Master Gunner Course were scored on their ability to optimize contracting support across diverse operational environments during the 10-day course. Attendees spent the two weeks mastering their contracting proficiency as 51C noncommissioned officer, or 1102 civilian professionals specializing in contracting.

The MICC Command Sergeant Major and senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Gusman said, “We created the MICC Master Gunner Course to help assess the technical proficiency of our contracting workforce through specialized training and complex evaluations.”

By design, he said, “the Master Gunner course is not easy and challenges the participants with a written test, an external evaluation design brief and a proposed unit training strategy brief presented to their commander, deputy and command sergeant major.” He was pleased to see a mixture of Soldiers and civilians attend the course. “These master gunners are important to our organization and ensure that each formation is disciplined and ready because our Soldiers and civilians deploy in support of the warfighter at any given time and any given location.”

First fielded in April 2022, upon successful completion of the course, master gunners since Sept. 2023 receive a personnel development skill identifier code. The skill identifier becomes part of their official personnel records, certifying them as contracting professionals who can work expertly, both within contracting detachments and as part of mobile contracting teams.

Though all 15 graduates earned their new skill identifiers, Master Sgt. Kailey Good-Hallahan was named the MICC Master Gunner Class 24-02 honor graduate and top master gunner with a course average of 99.57 points. With an already impressive overall class average of 96.50, the point difference between the master gunner honor graduate and runner up was a mere 0.03 points.

“Both the instructors and students for this iteration of the master gunner course were incredibly accomplished,” Good-Hallahan said. A contracting professional for the last 10 years with over 17 years of overall service in the Army, she is currently the contracting support operations noncommissioned officer for the Field Directorate Office–Fort Sam Houston. “I am incredibly honored and grateful to have been part of this exceptional cohort.”

As a newly minted MICC master gunner, she and the other highly skilled graduates representing three contracting support brigades and seven different contracting battalions across the MICC enterprise are challenged to return to their organizations and put their newly validated expertise to use in support of the warfighter.

Master Sgt. Payten Redfearn, a contracting professional who has served in acquisitions for over 10 years was on a temporary duty loan from the Army Contracting Command headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, MICC’s higher headquarters, to help facilitate the course. Not only was he involved with course design, but he has also facilitated five of the six MICC courses.

“This course has prepared the participants to return to their home stations ready to expertly assess their formation's contracting readiness, mentor others and act as strategic advisors to their leaders,” Redfearn said.

He anticipates that the MICC course will soon branch across the contracting command so that contracting professionals stationed outside of the continental U.S. will be afforded the important professional development opportunity.

Gusman agreed that expanding the leader course to deputies and the master gunner course to acquisition professionals outside of the MICC would be validation of the success of the MICC’s professional development efforts and would not only benefit the MICC and its higher commands, but the total Army. He said, as senior leaders, he, Lowrey and Cole created these opportunities to ensure contracting professionals have the ability to challenge themselves and test their skills in an academic environment, giving them the confidence they need to perform their jobs well. 

“Professional development initiatives like the leader and master gunner courses are essential for retaining quality Army talent, maintaining unit readiness and avoiding the costs associated with making unnecessary contracting mistakes,” Gusman said. “Investing in training and mastering our profession enables the Army to deliver ready combat formations and strengthen our profession.”