By Bill Johnson-Miles
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 13, 2009 - Earning a first-time Defense Department award is always nice, but when it's named for the leader who mentored your dad, yourself and your sons, it's extra special. That's exactly what happened to Paul Mann, joint program manager for the mine-resistant, armor-protected vehicle program at Marine Corps Systems Command here. He is the first recipient of the Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer Memorial Award, presented at the Pentagon in September.
"No other individual in our department has made a bigger impact for the warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan than Paul Mann," said Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. "His efforts and the vehicles his team delivers have directly led to the saving of countless lives and our ability to accomplish our objectives in this time of war."
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, also commended Mann's work in getting the life-saving MRAPS – designed to deflect the blast from roadside bombs – into the combat theater.
"Paul Mann and the entire MRAP team have done an outstanding job," he said. "That, and Paul's professional relationship with Admiral Meyer, made him the perfect selection for the inaugural presentation of this new award. We are very proud of Paul and his entire team. This is a great honor."
The Meyer Memorial Award, created this year to honor extraordinary members of the acquisition community, is named for the father of the Navy's Aegis weapons system, who died in September. Meyer was a senior advisory group chairman on three major projects Mann led from 1996 to 2005. Mann's last day with the admiral was in Bath, Maine, in October 2008 at the christening of a Navy guided-missile Aegis destroyer named for Meyer. The commissioning of USS Wayne E. Meyer took place Oct. 10 at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.
"Admiral Meyer visited my father in the early 1970s when dad was a master chief fire-control technician in the Navy," said Mann, a resident of Stafford, Va. "Dad and I both served as civil servants, delivering Aegis ships and training their crews to use their missile systems. Admiral Meyer was, is and will always be the 'Father of Aegis.' His genius and love for the Navy cannot be overstated."
Mann's program management philosophies mirrored Meyer's in setting the benchmark for an atmosphere of urgency, cooperation and mutual support. The MRAP program is the Defense Department's highest-priority acquisition program. It started in October 2006, and under Mann's leadership, the program devised and executed a rapid acquisition strategy through competitive prototyping, delivering the first vehicles to the combat theater just months after the program's start.
Since then, the program has delivered more than 16,000 MRAP trucks, along with the support necessary to test, field and sustain the vehicle fleet around the world. Today the MRAP program remains agile as attention shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan and its vastly different terrain. In coordination with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and U.S. Transportation Command, the program delivered the first MRAP all-terrain vehicles to Afghanistan earlier this month.
"Admiral Meyer's dedication and commitment to really big outcomes for the Navy are inspirational and contagious for our entire MRAP team," Mann said. "I can honestly say that many of the achievements in the
joint MRAP enterprise was enabled by the training and mentorship he generously shared with me, and by extension, our entire Joint MRAP team. I am deeply humbled by this recognition, and will share it with the numerous teammates who continue the mission to keep our warfighters safe."
(Bill Johnson-Miles works in Marine Corps Systems Command's communications office. Navy Cmdr. Victor Chen, public affairs officer for the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, contributed to this article.)