Contract battalion stands up
June 13, 2011
The 904th Contingency Contracting Battalion uncased its colors at Brooks Field on Fort Knox Tuesday in a ceremony to stand up the unit in its new home.
The 904th was established in 2008 at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif., as part of the Army Expeditionary Contracting Command, and oversees three contingency contracting teams; the 613th and the 632nd CCT at Fort Knox, and the 714th CCT at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Col. Jeff Morris, the commander of the 412 Contracting Support Brigade, the parent unit of the 904th, told its commander, Lt. Col. Jeffery Phillips, that the unit was going to be relocated, but the destination seemed to change monthly.
“When Col. Morris told me our final destination would be Fort Knox, we were all thrilled,” said Lt. Col. Phillips.
Col. Morris explained some of the mission and challenges the 904th would be facing, but acknowledged the staff probably was aware of those.
“I know this is preaching to the choir, but contracting was important long before the CSB was established in 2005,” Col. Morris said. “Even in the Revolutionary War, there were six Soldiers for every one contractor. In 2011, in Iraq, there were 1.4 contractors for every one Soldier. The Army spent $94 billion in contracting last year. Warfighters could not survive without what you do.”
As the reviewing officer for the ceremony, Col. Morris went on to tell a story about then-Maj. Phillips who took charge of a contracting team in Iraq after misbehavior had landed some contractors in jail. Maj. Phillips was determined such under-handed dealings would not be tolerated under his watch.
“I don’t want you to accept even a single piece of candy from a contractor,” Lt. Col. Phillips told his new unit, as a way to ensure there wouldn’t be the slightest perception of unethical behavior. Col. Morris related that when Maj. Phillips returned to his new office, he discovered that a huge box of candy had been delivered to every contract employee.
After the laughter subsided"indicative of the dilemmas that often face contracting personnel"Col. Morris went on to remind the contract employees that their jobs did not fit the “break glass in times of war” category, but rather were essential to the daily business of Soldiers.
The Mission Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox and the 904th will be reorganized further, although Col. Morris acknowledged he didn’t know just what the new entity would look like yet, “but we are going to do good things. Soldiers at Fort Knox will continue to receive world class contracting support.”
At Fort Irwin, the 904th did “phenomenal things” according to Lt. Col. Phillips. While there, the battalion ran the installation contracting effort, supported countless NTC rotations, trained numerous contingency contracting officers, deployed in support of the Pakistan humanitarian effort, and supported contingency contracting pre-deployment exercises.
“In the first three years that the 904th existed, it has built an impressive resume and established a well-deserved reputation for supporting the warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Phillips. “We plan to continue to build on these things now at Fort Knox.”
He elaborated on the challenges mentioned by Col. Morris.
“With three battalion headquarters from our brigade deployed, or soon to be deployed, in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are the ready pool to support current missions,” Lt. Col. Phillips said. “These missions will range from defense support to civilian authorities, NTC contracting support taskings, to real world deployments. With support from the 412th CSB, MICC Knox, and the entire Fort Knox community, we will be ready.
“We truly look forward to working with your outstanding contracting professionals at MICC Knox. We are already receiving excellent mentoring, guidance, and coaching from your team. We have our new home; look around at our new best friends.”