Contracting battalion continues operations in Haiti
January 3, 2011
When the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the small Caribbean nation of Haiti in January 2010, the 410th Contracting Support Brigade, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, deployed teams within 24 hours to support and sustain the Joint Task Force-Haiti mission, Operation Unified Response.
As the Operation Unified Response activities came to a close, there was still work to be done rebuilding Haiti. Enter the 677th Contingency Contracting Team and New Horizon-10.
Operation New Horizons is a series of recurring U.S. led humanitarian assistance projects in Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands. This year's projects were in Haiti and picked up where Operation Unified Response left off.
"The good works performed by the men and women of New Horizons-Haiti 2010 are part of the U.S. long term commitment to the people and government of Haiti," said Kenneth Merten, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. "We will continue to work with you in confronting issues you identify so that you can realize your vision for a better future."
The New Horizons Haiti mission and support to Task Force Kout-Man became the main effort for U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Army South after JTF-H stood down. A large number of the approximately 511,000 displaced Haitians fled to the Artibonite Department. The district has historically been devastated by hurricanes and storms, but because the region had recently experienced a large influx of people directly affected by the earthquake, this region was chosen for New Horizon-10. The TF Kout-Man engineering projects and medical readiness training exercises were vital in helping to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of this region. Task Force Kout-Man's mission was to build three new schools that would also serve as community storm shelters and building six police sub-stations in and around Port-Au- Prince, Haiti.
As Joint Task Force-Haiti began their draw down, Task Force Kout-Man, the Louisiana National Guard, led by Col. Michael Borrel, established itself within theater.
During Operation Unified Response, units deployed without defined requirements and trained contingency contracting officers. In New Horizons, the 410th CSB established early contact with the task force in April 2010 to conduct COR and Field Ordering Officer training prior to the task force deployment.
In addition, the contingency contracting team already supporting Joint Task Force-Haiti identified requirements early, allowing enough time to notify potential vendors of pending solicitations. The TF and CCT developed a solid relationship and scheduled monthly vendor meetings designed to iron-out issues or concerns identified since the previous meeting. Contracting support included life-support, engineering projects and twelve medical readiness exercises, called MEDRETEs, from the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The meetings help clarify procedures contractors needed to take if they had questions, either to their COR, or directly to the contracting officer. These simple, but important communications helped establish a good, professional partnership between vendor, contracting officer, and contracting officer's representative. In addition, a relationship with the United States Agency for International Development Simplified Acquisition Office and the military liaison office was solidified. These relationships enabled the 410th to expand vendor databases and forge new relationships with vendors.
TF Kout-Man completed the engineering and construction projects in the cities of Mandarin, Gonaives and Port Au Prince. These projects included the construction of a school, consisting of three rooms and with a 350 student capacity in Mandarin and one school each for boys and girls respectively, named K. Georges and Lycee Louis Diaquoi, in Gonaives. In addition, the TF renovated one school in Desronvilles, which had been nearly destroyed by a fire.
The task force also constructed six Haitian police substations in several internally displaced persons camps throughout Port Au Prince. These police sub-stations were the first of its kind to be built and provided the only opportunity for people living in the camps to report a crime or have their concerns heard. These sub-stations, operating 24 hours - 7 days a week, were the only security available in the camps.
Simultaneously, with the renovation and construction projects, the task force conducted 12 MEDRETE missions in coordination with the Haitian Ministry of Health, the U.S. Embassy and local civilian aid organizations. Many of the towns where the MEDRETEs operated had limited medical support with most patients never having had any medical or dental care over their lifetime. These MEDRETEs covered a variety of medical care and veterinary services for the community's livestock. In total, the task force treated more than 71,000 patients. The 410th contracting team supported these MEDRETEs with interpreters, light sets for after normal duty hour care, latrines and non-tactical vehicles.
In all, 59 contracts were completed with a total of more than $3,700,000 obligated for New Horizon-10. The engineer projects and MEDRETEs were accomplished through a coordinated effort with the Belize National Defense Force, U.S Navy Seabees, ARSOUTH communications specialists, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force medical personnel and National Guard Soldiers from more than ten states and partner nation territories.