Expeditionary Contracting Command continues support to Haiti mission
March 8, 2010
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- While snow storms of herculean proportion hit various parts of the U.S., the plight of Haitian people has slowly moved off the front pages of the American media and consciousness.
For the more than a dozen Expeditionary Contracting Command Soldiers and civilians deployed in the region to provide continued support of Haiti Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief Operations, the mission remains priority one.
Deployed within the first 48 hours after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the island of Haiti, members of the Expeditionary Contracting Command have been in the region supporting the joint task force mission.
"It's the right amount of people, give or take one or two," said Lt. Col. Douglas Lowery, one of more than a dozen ECC Soldiers and civilians in the region conducting contingency contracting operations. "The workload is pretty intense but we've done a couple of things to help ease things for us. We've set up some blanket purchase agreement contracts for some of the big ticket items that are being used. Things like transportation assets -- trucks and non tactical vehicles that allow the task force to get around and accomplish their mission."
The mission is creating a great deal of paperwork and administering it can be a burden. "We're doing that but the fact that we did that first (establishing administrative procedures) has helped us accomplish the contracting end state. It's pretty normal. These type operations have a very high operation tempo and provide us the opportunity to do contracting," Lowery said. "We're trained pretty well do to do this job and handling the requirements at the contracting officer level."
Joint task force members landed on the small Caribbean island with little more than basic supplies. Lowery and the rest of the ECC team were instrumental in acquiring the necessary supplies, services and personnel to get the job done.
"The biggest difference we make is two-fold. First is all the transportation assets that we've provided to the joint task force to move around the area of operation. The units didn't bring a lot of their organic equipment and some of it is being shipped in later so we are providing them the assets to move humanitarian supplies as well as their own supplies, equipment and people. The second thing we've done is to allow them to sustain themselves with field services and basic life support services."
The latter was accomplished by working with the units and establishing field ordering officers. The FOOs provide individual units with the capability to procure small purchase items for themselves, small cash and carry type items that help them to accomplish their tasks.
"If they see a bulldozer there and they need it to clear an area so they can get through, they can grab the guy with the dozer and pay him right there on the spot so they can execute their mission," Lowery said.
With no set rotation, ECC members will likely be on the ground for a few months supporting the JTF.
"Contracting plays a huge role in these type operations and what the JTF can accomplish. Without the buses and these transportation assets, the JTF can't accomplish their mission," said Lowery, who can see firsthand the fruit of their efforts.
"More than 15 million meals were delivered in a 10-day period. More distribution points are opening daily with Haitian families receiving 25 and 30 pound bags of rice, beans and cooking oils. The camps in areas where people's homes were destroyed turned into dangerous and rudimentary shelters. They now have tents with water and meals being delivered to these areas on a routine basis.
A lot of good is happening as a result of our being here," Lowery said. "We enable the JTF to do the great things they do."