NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Thirty-nine logistics management specialists launched a new chapter in their careers at a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Navy Acquisition Development Program (NADP) graduation ceremony held at the University System of Maryland in California, Maryland, Sept. 13.
Ann Wood, acting Sustainment Group director, acknowledged the graduates’ perseverance, most of whom participated in NADP during COVID-19. She asked them to draw from that experience and apply it to all of their personal and professional endeavors.
“When I was an NADP graduate, naval aviation was transitioning the F/A-18 Super Hornet and fielding the V-22 Osprey,” she said. “You are entering a time when naval aviation is fielding the 5th Generation Joint Strike Fighter and other weapons systems. It will be during your careers that we will design, develop and build 6th generation aircraft, hypersonic weapons, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.”
“Logisticians will bring the next generation of sustainment to 6th generation weaponry. We have to design the systems that will support it. You will also have to do the same for 7th and 8th generation weaponry as well,” Wood said.
“Keep in mind you’ll still have to sustain legacy systems, such as the CH-53K and KC-130 for the next few decades. Removing barriers and overcoming obstacles requires collaboration across domains and a willingness to learn,” she added.
Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)) Rear Adm. John Lemmon agreed.
“You have a network of support all around you. It’s important for you to reach out for guidance,” he said. “When it comes to problem solving there is no rank – we are partners and we work together.”
Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Executive Director Stephen Cricchi also spoke at the graduation.
“Graduates like you will be leading NAVAIR,” Cricchi said. “Events such as this are milestones and are occasions to ask yourself, ‘How can I contribute going forward?’ I would say, don’t be a spectator on the sidelines. Be bold and ask questions to inform yourselves so you can drive outcomes more effectively.”
Director of Maintenance for Naval Aviation, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers John Grabenstein also asked the graduates to be proactive and to embrace life-long learning. “Everyone’s perspective has value when problem solving, no matter how junior you are,” he said. “Take advantage of the other formal training programs the Navy has to offer, such as [the Journey Leadership Development Program] and [the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program].”
All four speakers advised the graduates to continue to develop professional and personal relationships, and emphasized the importance of having a mentor as well as growing the next generation of NAVAIR employees.
“Find a mentor and be one,” Cricchi said. “Create a network of colleagues and move through your career with them. I knew Rear Adm. Lemmon decades before I was his deputy at NAWCAD. Don’t underestimate the value of networking for solving problems quickly and more effectively.”
The call to “pay it forward” resonated with graduate Michelle Gaskin, who is currently assigned to Accountable Property System of Record IPT Support with the Sustainment Group’s Command Property Office, Policy Branch.
“I sought out mentors who could help me set career goals and shared their knowledge and expertise with me,” she recounted. “As I was learning from their experiences and gaining knowledge and insight, I shared it with new interns who were coming through the program after me. Surprisingly, I became a mentor to several other interns who were impressed with my professional background and experience.”
Sarah Musick, deputy assistant program manager, logistics (DAMPL) for Egypt and Taiwan at E-2/C-2 Airborne Command and Control Systems Program Office (PMA-231) Foreign Military Sales, said she came away with several valuable lessons from NADP.
“Everyone is still learning, no matter how long they have been in their positions. I have benefitted a great deal by simply paying attention to the crosstalk,” she explained. “Continue asking questions. I have found that when I ask a question, I not only get my answer most of the time, I also get additional information I can use later.”
“Take any opportunity to see all the aspects of the program being supported. From production to sustainment, understanding the impact of your contribution to the mission is imperative,” Musick added.
Drawing from his experiences in NADP, James-Michael Vinson Smith, NAVAIR Additive Manufacturing DAPML, advised future participants to cultivate an inquisitive mind and acknowledge the responsibilities junior NAVAIR team members have as the future of naval aviation.
“Remember the mission and do not lose sight of the big picture,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Wood encouraged the graduates to take ownership of naval aviation’s future.
“It’s exciting that tomorrow’s weapons systems’ design and development have yet to happen,” she said. “It’s up to you.”
NADP is a management program that trains and develops future Department of the Navy leadership for up to three years in the areas of finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Current civilian employees can participate in NADP’s professional development track as associates.