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The Acquisition Corps is just Awesome!!!!!

This forum is for those Functional Areas that are open to Officers through VTIP
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Postby DStephens Mon May 18, 2015 9:29 am

In my short time in the army I have never met an acquisitions officer that wasn't happy with his job. It's something I have been looking into on and off for the past year or so. For me, I won't be able to apply for a couple years due to needing to be KD complete for command.
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Postby hooah05 Mon May 18, 2015 9:25 pm

My rater at JIEDDO loved being a 51A. Choice assignments and plenty of autonomy. Really at the junction point between Mil/Civ/Industry. I am sure he retired into something fun and rewarding.
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Postby blackhawk_pilot2000 Mon May 18, 2015 9:59 pm

Yes the AC is awesome. However AC comes in two flavors: 51A & 51C. Dpar's the senior AC guy among us here, he may elaborate on this later :)
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Postby eqmcclure Tue May 19, 2015 8:13 am

Just being a Civilian Acq Corps member for 7 years and knowing all the folks I know, I can tell you that you want to be a 51A and not a 51C.

The assignment options and commands you can be assigned to are much more widespread with the Program Management side of the house than they are in the Contracting field. If you're a 51C you're most likely going to work for either DCMA or AMC (or one of it's many subordinate commands i.e. MICC, ECC, ACC, etc.).

As a 51A (and depending on your basic branch), you can work for any one of the PEOs, Test Commands, Research Labs, Life Cycle Management Commands, Army Secretariat, etc.
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Postby blackhawk_pilot2000 Tue May 19, 2015 10:30 am

Just being a Civilian Acq Corps member for 7 years and knowing all the folks I know, I can tell you that you want to be a 51A and not a 51C.

The assignment options and commands you can be assigned to are much more widespread with the Program Management side of the house than they are in the Contracting field. If you're a 51C you're most likely going to work for either DCMA or AMC (or one of it's many subordinate commands i.e. MICC, ECC, ACC, etc.).

As a 51A (and depending on your basic branch), you can work for any one of the PEOs, Test Commands, Research Labs, Life Cycle Management Commands, Army Secretariat, etc.
This.
Most VTIP hopefuls will not get their choice of flavor (51A or 51C). However, being a 51C is very different than working in the 51A world. Once you get assesed into the AC you are locked into one of the two for 3-4 years at least and can't switch over till you get the level 3 certs on your ACF. So, just remember that when Dpar markets the AC as awesome, he does so from a 51A point of view. The 51C side is well... a whole different story.
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Postby Johno Tue May 19, 2015 12:39 pm

Reason #519. I get to run everywhere. Ran 3 miles on Clearwater Beach yesterday and ran 5 this morning on the causeway between Tampa and St Petersburg.
Ha! How many times have I driven across that causeway to/from the airport/my in-laws' house in Safety Harbor and thought "I'll bet this would make a great run." Well done.
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Postby sapper307 Wed May 20, 2015 8:23 am

Just being a Civilian Acq Corps member for 7 years and knowing all the folks I know, I can tell you that you want to be a 51A and not a 51C.

The assignment options and commands you can be assigned to are much more widespread with the Program Management side of the house than they are in the Contracting field. If you're a 51C you're most likely going to work for either DCMA or AMC (or one of it's many subordinate commands i.e. MICC, ECC, ACC, etc.).

As a 51A (and depending on your basic branch), you can work for any one of the PEOs, Test Commands, Research Labs, Life Cycle Management Commands, Army Secretariat, etc.
This.
Most VTIP hopefuls will not get their choice of flavor (51A or 51C). However, being a 51C is very different than working in the 51A world. Once you get assesed into the AC you are locked into one of the two for 3-4 years at least and can't switch over till you get the level 3 certs on your ACF. So, just remember that when Dpar markets the AC as awesome, he does so from a 51A point of view. The 51C side is well... a whole different story.
I don't know about the A side but I'm on C side and am loving it so far. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attending Handgun Industry Days or traveling to England but I have nothing to complain about. You guys make it sound like the 51C side is a death sentence.
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Postby eqmcclure Fri May 22, 2015 1:45 pm

I meant no offense to my 51C brothers and sisters there sapper307.

My wife is a DAC equivalent of that, and I have had plenty of training in that arena as well. Acquisition in itself just has lots of red tape and even more so when it comes to Contract planning and execution, so it will definitely keep someone on their toes and gainfully employed.

I would wager that the promotion and assignment potential is likely a bit greater on the 51A side though, given the larger pool of Program Managers versus Contracting Officers. I think we could all agree that their aren't enough KOs to support all the Contracts Army orgs execute.
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Postby sapper307 Fri May 22, 2015 3:38 pm

eqmcclure, no offense taken. I agree with your assessment regarding assignment options, and also agree that there's a shortage of KOs within the Army. I can't comment on promotion potential, especially on the civilian side, with any authority. What I can say is that I've been pleasantly surprised as I too wanted to transfer into the PM side when I originally VTIP'd. Everyone with whom I spoke gave me the same advice, 'go PM or you'll be miserable.' I haven't found that to be the case, although I wouldn't mind exploring options to transfer to the PM side later in my career.
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Postby Details Sat May 23, 2015 2:15 am

What is this acquisitions officer you speak of and what branch would an officer who wanted to be one belong to?
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Postby dpar Sat May 23, 2015 8:16 am

What is this acquisitions officer you speak of and what branch would an officer who wanted to be one belong to?
Check DA PAM 600-3LINK for a full accounting. Here's a large snippet.

At the very basic level, Acquisition officers help buy stuff that is needed by our units to do their job.

Or on another level, remember those PVS-7/14's you used in the field? I'm the guy talking to the company(L3I) who makes them and working with them (and a large team) to ensure those goggles work, are configured for optimal human performance, and kept at a low cost. As a result of people like me the Special Operations world now has only dual tube goggles and are moving away from green to white tubes in our NVG's. Big Army is stuck with their single tube green goggle for a ling time I bet.
Chapter 41
Army Acquisition Corps
41–1. Introduction
a. Purpose. The Army Acquisition Corps is responsible for equipping and sustaining the world’s most capable, powerful and respected Army. Our first responsibility is to the Soldier who protects and preserves our Nation. We
strive to meet the needs of the Soldier throughout the full spectrum of operations by incorporating technical solutions to respond to the rapidly evolving threat environment. We ensure the production of quality capabilities, providing the right product or service to the right place, at the right time to ensure the Army is equipped for the 21st century. Our
next responsibility is to our Partners—Army, Joint, industry, international, and academia. We work with these partners to develop, acquire, deliver, sustain, and safely dispose of weapons systems and provide contracting services to our Soldiers in all military operations. We work closely with our partners to continually improve Army capabilities and
ensure their interoperability. Our final responsibility is to the American public. We must be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and work to continuously achieve the highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency in our business decisions while maintaining strict adherence to acquisition ethics policies, regulation, and laws. The Army Acquisition Corps consists of commissioned officers, NCO and DA Civilians.
d. Career specialization. FA 51 officers are functional experts and are therefore required to develop expertise in an AOC. After completing their initial acquisition training and reporting to their first assignment, officers should focus on obtaining primary certification in one of two AOCs: Program Management (AOC A) or Contracting (AOC C).
(1) Program Management (AOC A) assignments focus on the management of materiel systems or services across all phases of life-cycle management. The life-cycle includes: planning and refining the initial requirements; development and maturation of technology through a disciplined engineering process; producing and deploying a materiel capability;
supporting a fielded capability in the operational force; and, ultimately, disposal. A system may include but is not limited to weapon systems, individual equipment, aircraft and vehicle platforms, IT, and command and control capabilities. A service may include but is not limited to portfolios related to installation, knowledge management, medical, and logistics. FA 51 officers assigned to AOC A positions may perform program management; IT; test and evaluation; and/or systems planning research, development, and engineering—science and technology management
related work. AOC A responsibilities include the Government’s management of program cost, schedule, performance, risk, and test and evaluation. Other AOC A responsibilities include managing supply chains, and science and technology projects. Officers coordinate with warfighters and TRADOC capability managers (the warfighter’s representative) to determine requirements. Throughout the life-cycle, AOC A officers manage the efforts of the government and our industry partners. A positions normally includes assignments in a PEO which is the Government organization responsible
for managing Army systems. Other AOC A positions include developmental and operational test and evaluation activities to ensure materiel solutions adequately address operational effectiveness, suitability, and safety criteria;
management of IT programs which are unique in their cost, schedule, and performance due to rapid changes in technology; and science and technology program management that focuses on linking laboratories, academia and Soldiers to determine technology-based solutions for challenges faced by warfighters.
(2) Contracting (AOC C) assignments focus on officers leading teams that provide contracting support worldwide to expeditionary operations throughout the entire spectrum of military operations. These officers will lead contingency contracting teams, contracting efforts for installations, military construction, and weapon systems procurement. They execute contract awards, manage contract administration, and provide industrial management/oversight at contractor facilities worldwide. Officers coordinate the appropriate contracting action with the supported warfighter or program manager to address requiring activity needs. These officers are responsible for making determinations on contract awards and supporting the development of acquisition plans and instructions. Assignments with a contracting focus may include contracting support to the warfighter; assisting contract support planning at all levels of Army operations,
systems and service contracting in major purchasing commands. Positions within AMC encompass the Army Contracting Command, Expeditionary Contracting Command, and Life-Cycle Management Commands (LCMCs). Other AOC C positions are at the PEOs and military construction in the USACE. Duties may include determining best contract types and agreements, negotiating contract terms and conditions; obligating funds; awarding contracts; leading post award actions; monitoring performance and production; providing contract surveillance; performing risk analysis; and advising warfighters, program managers, and industry.
Last edited by dpar on Sat May 23, 2015 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby dpar Sat May 23, 2015 8:22 am

Just being a Civilian Acq Corps member for 7 years and knowing all the folks I know, I can tell you that you want to be a 51A and not a 51C.

The assignment options and commands you can be assigned to are much more widespread with the Program Management side of the house than they are in the Contracting field. If you're a 51C you're most likely going to work for either DCMA or AMC (or one of it's many subordinate commands i.e. MICC, ECC, ACC, etc.).

As a 51A (and depending on your basic branch), you can work for any one of the PEOs, Test Commands, Research Labs, Life Cycle Management Commands, Army Secretariat, etc.
The perception is that 51A is much more fun than 51A but it really all depends on the assignment. I know plenty of 51A's who wish they had more control and plenty of 51C's who love their job and assignments.

Also, don't sell 51C short on locations. There are a ton of assignments out there for 51C's all over the world and tons of 60-90 "deployments" to set up or assist in the contingency contracting world where they do little more than over watch from fairly plush living conditions while getting to take a little bit of time here and there to see some amazing sights around the world.
Do not bother to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. --William Faulkner
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Postby chriskzg Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:08 pm

VTIP states that the AC looks to snag guys between their 5th and 7th years (I understand the reasoning behind this), does anyone know if it is possible to transfer into AC after their 7th year?
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Postby sapper307 Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:01 pm

In short, yes. Some of my peers that at are just entering the field are are '06 or '07 guys. There are also plenty of folks that transfer over as Majors. It all depends on AMB and what they're looking for at the time you apply. The timeline issue has to do with the ability to get DAWIA level 3 certified in at least one career field (which can take 4 years or more) prior to hitting your LTC board.
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Postby MiNcO Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:05 am

In short, yes. Some of my peers that at are just entering the field are are '06 or '07 guys. There are also plenty of folks that transfer over as Majors. It all depends on AMB and what they're looking for at the time you apply. The timeline issue has to do with the ability to get DAWIA level 3 certified in at least one career field (which can take 4 years or more) prior to hitting your LTC board.
To expand on that, there are a bunch of requirements to reach level 3, schooling- and time-wise, that accession as an older YG makes it difficult and somewhat stressful to obtain prior to the LTC board. Entering as a MAJ, a Soldier would have almost no flexibility in their timeline to meet the required gates for LTC and couldn't really absorb any deviations.

Still, it is worth the try - this FA is amazing and much more rewarding/enjoyable than almost anything else I've done in the Army.
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Why

Postby Mktennis Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:55 am

In short, yes. Some of my peers that at are just entering the field are are '06 or '07 guys. There are also plenty of folks that transfer over as Majors. It all depends on AMB and what they're looking for at the time you apply. The timeline issue has to do with the ability to get DAWIA level 3 certified in at least one career field (which can take 4 years or more) prior to hitting your LTC board.
To expand on that, there are a bunch of requirements to reach level 3, schooling- and time-wise, that accession as an older YG makes it difficult and somewhat stressful to obtain prior to the LTC board. Entering as a MAJ, a Soldier would have almost no flexibility in their timeline to meet the required gates for LTC and couldn't really absorb any deviations.

Still, it is worth the try - this FA is amazing and much more rewarding/enjoyable than almost anything else I've done in the Army.
People constantly say this. Why? Is it the culture? Is it very business like? Are the people just good? I ask because we, including Congress, have said that the acquisition process is jacked up so it ain't the process or the stress of government oversight. So, what gives. Why the love?
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Re: Why

Postby eqmcclure Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:08 am

In short, yes. Some of my peers that at are just entering the field are are '06 or '07 guys. There are also plenty of folks that transfer over as Majors. It all depends on AMB and what they're looking for at the time you apply. The timeline issue has to do with the ability to get DAWIA level 3 certified in at least one career field (which can take 4 years or more) prior to hitting your LTC board.
To expand on that, there are a bunch of requirements to reach level 3, schooling- and time-wise, that accession as an older YG makes it difficult and somewhat stressful to obtain prior to the LTC board. Entering as a MAJ, a Soldier would have almost no flexibility in their timeline to meet the required gates for LTC and couldn't really absorb any deviations.

Still, it is worth the try - this FA is amazing and much more rewarding/enjoyable than almost anything else I've done in the Army.
People constantly say this. Why? Is it the culture? Is it very business like? Are the people just good? I ask because we, including Congress, have said that the acquisition process is jacked up so it ain't the process or the stress of government oversight. So, what gives. Why the love?
Half the fun is trying to fight the uphill battle of keeping Congress and OSD off your back while trying to field a product or keep one in the fight. I'm a nerd, but I enjoy tracking program budgets as they slowly wriggle through Congress and defending programs to Professional Staffers and the like.

Depending on the program supported, you get a lot of high visibility within and across the Military Departments and greater DoD. It's very true that the process is "jacked up," primarily because of the overly burdensome statutory and regulatory restrictions and hurdles one has to jump through to do anything. Just look at the Defense Acquisition Management System chart, then overlay Congressional staffing and OSD staffing timelines on top of that, and you see where it gets a bit fuzzy.

That's why it takes us 10+ years to field most systems, well that and Contractors who are more interested in the bottom line than actually providing customer service and great products to the warfighter. If PMs were empowered at a bit lower level and we eliminated some of the HQDA and OSD mid-layers we'd probably be in better shape.

But yes....much love to the Acq Corps! I love my job, I love my job.
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Locations

Postby bemccart Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:08 pm

What are some common locations which an AC officer can be stationed?
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Postby sapper307 Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:45 pm

Im a contracting guy. I'm currently in Honduras. Previously I was assigned to Osan AB Korea and Fort Sam Houston, TX. There's a wide range of places you can go as a KO. if you go to ECC you can look at where the BDEs are; Korea, Ft Sam, Ft Carson, Hawaii, Italy. There are typically many slots for Qatar, Arifjan, and AFG. Then you have the MICC's at just about every base and the ACC contracting centers at Rock Island, Warren, MI Redstone Arsenol... I'm just going to stop. You can go anywhere.
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Postby ABNSigO Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:11 pm

Until I came here to Qatar, dealt with a couple of $1M contracts, I didn't think that it was that critical. I can see how every facet of the fight is impacted with contracts but can also bemoan the inefficiency of the whole acquisition process.

The local ECC battalion commander recommended to me that I look into the Acquisition Corps, noting my work and technical experience. I don't know. At this point, I absolutely hate my branch, the Signal branch managers and the stupidity therein but at 15 years in and in a promotion year, I don't know if I want to do the jump to another branch, after having moved from IN to SC.
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Re: The Acquisition Corps is just Awesome!!!!!

Postby chriskzg Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:52 pm

As its been a minute since anyone has posted in this thread, just wanted to check to make sure the Acquisition Corps is still awesome. I was also looking for some advice on when to apply. I know the preference time window is 5-7 years, however I will be a little over 8 years when I will be eligible (KD complete). Is it better to get in before the MAJ board with very little AC experience (try to promote as an AC CPT to MAJ) under my belt or wait until after I get promoted (hopefully) in my current branch (try to switch branches as a LG MAJ)?
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Re: The Acquisition Corps is just Awesome!!!!!

Postby DStephens Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:31 am

As its been a minute since anyone has posted in this thread, just wanted to check to make sure the Acquisition Corps is still awesome. I was also looking for some advice on when to apply. I know the preference time window is 5-7 years, however I will be a little over 8 years when I will be eligible (KD complete). Is it better to get in before the MAJ board with very little AC experience (try to promote as an AC CPT to MAJ) under my belt or wait until after I get promoted (hopefully) in my current branch (try to switch branches as a LG MAJ)?
I’ve been wondering this same thing. I want to get in AC as soon as possible, but wonder if I should try to do a broadening job with USACE until the MAJ board or just go straight into AC after command. The big reason of wanting to wait is to get the command OER before “abandoning my basic branch”.

Does anyone know if you can apply for VTIP while in command? Or do you have to be KD complete at the time of the application submission?
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Re: The Acquisition Corps is just Awesome!!!!!

Postby ncmilano Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:07 pm

My .02 cents. I'm a 51A. Wait until your command is complete then apply. Hate to see your rater or senior rater abandon you since your are leaving your branch. I believe you have to be KD complete. Go on hrc and email the CPTs acqusition manager and ask him for feedback. He will help you assess or discourage you if you will not make it. From my understanding if your not a shoe in to make major you will not get picked up.

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