NEWS | June 18, 2021

PdM SMS Holds Change of Charter Ceremony

By Jason Amadi PEO Soldier

Product Manager, Soldier Maneuver Sensors (PdM SMS) held a Change of Charter ceremony on Fort Belvoir, June 18.


Lt. Col. Melissa Johnson assumed leadership as the PdM from Lt. Col. Toby Birdsell, accepting responsibility for the total life cycle management of SMS programs. As PdM, Johnson will be responsible for coordinating with stakeholders to ensure a system-of-systems engineering approach necessary for seamless interoperability across the Army and Joint Enterprises.


Product Manager SMS is a product management office within the Program Executive Office, Soldier (PEO Soldier) portfolio. Its mission is to rapidly deliver integrated sensors that enable the Soldier system to detect and engage first against all threats.


Col. Doug Copeland, Project Manager for Soldier Maneuver and Precision Targeting (PM SMPT), hosted the Change of Charter ceremony and thanked Birdsell for a job well done.


“None of the efforts over the past several years were easy,” said Copeland. “I really think a big part of Toby’s success was having a positive outlook on every single challenge. He had a team-oriented approach, applied critical thinking, and exercised sound judgment. Those things all came together to make you a very successful leader and your team a very successful organization.”


Johnson, a native of Augusta, Georgia, previously served as part of PEO Soldier’s SMS team in 2013 alongside Birdsell. She says she’s excited to return and thanked Birdsell for preparing her to take on the PdM role.


“I’m absolutely thrilled to be back as part of the PEO Soldier family,” said Johnson. “I’m thrilled to be back where it all started for me and to be surrounded by a group of world-class and elite professionals. To say I’m humbled would be an absolute understatement.”


Johnson and Birdsell originally met during their time as Assistant Product Managers in PM SMPT.


“We couldn’t have even imagined that we would be sharing this moment together eight years ago. Eight years ago, we served together in the SMS program office and eight years ago our children played together. There is no other Army family that I’d rather share this day with. Thank you so much for your friendship. You’re truly an inspirational leader and a tough act to follow. But I’m going to do my best and I want to thank you for setting me up for success,” said Johnson.


Johnson closed with a message to the team she’ll be leading and assured them she would be in their corner as their PdM.


“Team SMS, to lead is to serve; nothing more, nothing less. To whom much is given, much is expected. I promise that you have 100% of my undivided attention and effort as we walk on this journey together. I will be your biggest advocate, your biggest cheerleader and most of all, your best teammate.”