Northrop Grumman employee Mike Erk was one of seven civilians to receive the 61st Annual Department of Defense (DOD) Distinguished Civilian Service Award (DCSA) in 2016 for his years of outstanding service in the DOD. Erk, who has since retired from DOD, now serves as director of strategic planning for global sustainment, Northrop Grumman Technology Services.

The DCSA is the highest award given to DOD civilian employees whose careers reflect exceptional devotion to duty and whose contributions and other improvements in DOD operations have made a significant impact on national security.

Erk received the award for his outstanding programmatic, organizational and technical leadership in the DOD, particularly while serving as Deputy Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation for the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons PEO(U&W).

Mike Erk Receives Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award
From left to right: The Honorable Robert Work (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Mike Erk, The Honorable Sean Stackley (Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition), Mike Rhodes (Director of Administration and Management). Photo taken by Tech. Sgt. Brigitte Brantley, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs.

“I am honored. This is a testament to the men and women of PEO(U&W) doing great work for unmanned aviation. I look at this as an award for the team,” said Erk.

The DCSA nomination said that throughout his DOD career, Erk has shown dedication to ensuring the Navy’s success in advancing the DOD in key focus areas. He championed the introduction and cultural integration of unmanned aviation systems into the Navy and Marine Corps. He was a premier leader in the development, production, fielding and sustainment of unmanned aviation systems, and he has left an indelible mark on the future of naval aviation, the nomination said.

In addition to acknowledging Erk’s dedication, the DCSA award also recognizes the significant and lasting impacts of his accomplishments. His pioneering achievements have increased the effectiveness and efficiency of the Navy and DOD, which will continue to bolster the security of the United States.

At PEO(U&W), Erk managed an unmanned aviation portfolio of more than 20 diverse systems with multi-billion dollars in annual budget authority, according to the DCSA nomination. This portfolio ranged from small handheld systems to ground-breaking carrier-based systems; to large, persistent, high-altitude systems.  Under his cognizance, the PEO(U&W) programs delivered hundreds of new unmanned systems, ensuring combat forces had the capability advantage and technical edge over adversaries.  Erk also positioned the programs and streamlined the processes to be able to efficiently deliver the ever-increasing demand for new and innovative unmanned aviation systems, the nomination said.

The DCSA also recognizes Erk’s long history of outstanding leadership. He has contributed to establishing and maintaining a strong and dedicated workforce for the PEO(U&W). His emphasis on cultivating a positive environment and ensuring a bright future in unmanned aviation has contributed to the status of the PEO(U&W) as being one of the preferred places to work in the command.