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News | April 26, 2023

PM-Close Combat Systems at Army Engineer Association Event

By MAJ Thomas Fite PM CCS

Project Manager-Close Combat Systems (PM-CCS) supported the US Army’s Regimental Engineer Week at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. Engineer Week provides an opportunity to reconnect and enhance dialogue about the future of the Regiment and engage with Industry partners who were exhibiting the latest engineering technology. Over the two-day event, the team, consisting of MAJ Thomas Fite, Assistant Product Director for Demolitions & Countermeasures, Ms. Jeanie Fortunato, PM-CCS Support Contractor [Bowhead], and Mr. Larry Lyle, PM-CCS  Field Coordinator [Bowhead], connected with Industry partners, interacted with Engineer Soldiers at all echelons (Brigade, Battalion, Company, Platoon, and Squad levels) and ranks (Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), and Soldiers), fielded questions, and provided the Regiment with information about the mission of PM-CCS. Captured below are the handful of key engagements conducted:
  1. Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course’s (EBOLC): EBOLC is the first stop for newly minted Engineer Officers enroute to their first assignment. During EBOLC, 2nd Lieutenants are introduced to all facets of the Engineer Regiment, to include general construction, bridging, combat engineering, explosives, and Engineer Recon. During Engineer Week, several different EBOLC classes stopped by the booth to learn about PM-CCS and the Acquisition Corps. The team spent a considerable amount of time discussing the various products with the PM-CCS portfolio, which products they could see in their future assignments, and provided a capability overview of the XM204 XM343 and XM123. Several EBOLC students circled back for additional information and to dive deeper into future capabilities.   
  1. Engineer Captain Career Course’s (ECCC): ECCC is the second professional course for Engineer Officers. During this course, Engineer’s are further exposed to Engineer operations and how to work as a Battalion or Brigade level staff. Because most of these officers have experience with Engineer operations, the primary topics of discussion were the XM204 (interim top attack munition), XM343 (SAVO), and XM123 (GOBLN), and the future Engineer force can employ these products.
  1. Advanced and Senior Leader Non-Commissioned Officer Courses (ALC & SLC): ALC is the second professional course for the NCO Corps with the mission of developing confident and competent Engineer Squad Leaders, through demanding tactical, technical, and Army values-based training. Whereas SLC is the third professional course, with the mission of developing Engineer Platoon Sergeants. The NCOs that stopped by the booth asked some challenging and unique questions and provided some excellent feedback of the XM123 GOBLN concept. Additionally, the team provided these NCOs with a capabilities overview on the Xm204 and XM 343; which many of them were unaware the technology existed.
  1. Participants from the Best sapper Competition: Several Best Sapper competitors stopped by the booth to learn about PM-CCS and talk about their experiences with certain portfolio items. One specific conversation occurred with SSG Wilson and SSG Drake from the 11th Airborne Division (Alaska). These two NCOs talked about the challenges their formations are having operating in extreme cold weather environments. This gave our team an opportunity to highlight PAX-52 and its applicability to the artic environment. They seemed eager to learn more about our modernization efforts and how PM-CCS is supporting the Engineer warfighter.
  1. 1-1 Conversation with the Engineer Commandant: COL Goetz stopped by the booth to express his gratitude for supporting the Engineer Regiment and remarked that PM-CCS was the only PM office to have a booth; especially given that many Brigade and Battalion level Commanders and Sergeant’s Majors attend. While COL Goetz is intimately familiar with the PM-CCS portfolio and mission set, he asked several questions about the XM204 and XM343, and whether the capability will be delivered to the warfighter on-time. Mr. Larry Lyle also of PMCCS, answered all the questions in-stride and will relay all information back to the PdM and Project Officers.
  1. Interview with BG (Ret.) Watson: On day two, the Army Engineer Association (AEA) President, BG (Ret.) Watson, conducted an interview with Mr. Larry Lyle and MAJ Fite. This interview gave the team and opportunity to discuss what PM-CCS provides to the warfighter, how the force can contact the PM office, and what is up-and-coming for the force (XM204, XM343, XM123). The interview is planned to be released on the AEA website and Facebook page in the coming week. Finally, BG Watson also acknowledged that PM CCS was the only PM office represented at the event. He was appreciative of our attendance and stated that our presence received high praise from leaders across the force.
Since attending the event, PM-CCS representatives have responded to the RFIs received from contacts made at AEA, establishing relationships that will help JPEO A&A meet warfighter needs, in the process.
One take away for next year is to coordinate having DEVCOM and PM-CCS booths next to one another. A lot of the work being completed at DEVCOM will eventually transition to the PM-CCS portfolio, such as DEVCOM’s . It is the intent of PM-CCS to ensure a military representative at future AEA events, as this leads to more  Soldiers stopping by and asking questions, as evidenced at this year’s event.
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