Kirk Vollmecke ’84 promoted to brigadier general
January 26, 2012 By Cindy Long
by the United States Army. Above, Vollmecke (second from left)
poses with fellow Centre alums and Beta Theta Pi fraternity
brothers BJ Rogers ’84, Jim Smith ’84 and Todd McMurtry ’84
at his promotion ceremony last November.
Kirk Vollmecke ’84 was promoted to brigadier general by the United States Army at a ceremony in November 2011. He will be commanding general, Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Sam Houston.
“I'm extremely humbled to have been selected and promoted to brigadier general,” Vollmecke says. “I came up initially within the infantry and from an operational standpoint, but I made a change about seven years into my military career and moved into the acquisition world, a very specialized area of the Army, to help contribute in terms of modernizing the Army by working complex weapon systems procurement.”
When Vollmecke was a sophomore earning degrees in economics and management at Centre, he competed for and received an ROTC scholarship. Although he had planned to study to be a lawyer, ROTC put him on the path to a career in the military and he was commissioned in May 1984. He went on to receive a master's degree in management from the Naval Postgraduate School, graduate from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and earn a master's in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
With 28 years of military service, Vollmecke has served in various capacities around the world. But he says his most rewarding and challenging service was a deployment to Iraq in 2007. In an interview with Centre College, he told us, “I was responsible for contract management and oversight of about 115,000 contractors who supported American forces and the coalition partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. My headquarters were located in Iraq, but I actually had subordinate commands and activities across both theaters of operation. That's over 452,000 square miles.”
Although Vollmecke comes from a family of military service — his father served in Korea in the U.S. Air Force and his uncle is an Air Force Academy grad who served in Vietnam — perhaps the most extraordinary family connection is his brother, Eric, who is also a brigadier general in the USAF.
“I doubt that there are more than a handful of brothers who are general officers, or flag officer equivalents, throughout DoD, especially to come from two different services,” Vollmecke admits. “My brother is a pilot, so we definitely had different career paths. It's pretty incredible for two brothers, both who love serving our nation, to be selected and promoted to this rank in our careers.”
Vollmecke is highly decorated. His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with seven oak leaf clusters), Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (with four oak clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with Bronze service star), Southwest Asia Service Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. He is also authorized to wear the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Airborne Badge and the Ranger Tab.
His education, both at Centre and beyond, gave him the tools he needed to oversee such a large contracting agency.
“Last year alone the Army contract value was in excess of $125 billion in contracted support action and awards,” he explains. “I help to oversee that process. The Army is well within the top 30 of the Fortune 500. So when you look at gross revenue of companies in excess of $120 billion you can see that the Army, from my capacity in contracts and procurement, is at a comparable level.
“The unique aspect of the Centre liberal arts approach," Vollmecke continues, “is that it gave me critical thinking and problem-solving skills that have greatly served me throughout my military career; especially in the complex business world of weapon systems acquisition and procurement. It's the art vs. science debate — to be able to take those necessary skills, the reflective thinking, the analytical foundation; that's what Centre gave me. To understand the importance of being able to communicate both orally and in writing; to have a fundamentally sound and complete understanding of rhetoric and logic, and to conceptualize, analyze, synthesize and then put things in context — these are all skills I learned at Centre that have helped me throughout my career to execute and solve complex problems.”
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