Deployed civilian enjoys working next to Soldiers
March 23, 2012
"It's the most wonderful job in the world," Kathie Potter said, about her duties with the Army Contracting Command's Deployable Cadre Program.
Potter is currently serving as a procuring contracting officer supporting contingency operations in Iraq as part of the team transitioning contracting responsibilities to the Department of State.
Potter is one of 11 members of the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., currently deployed in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan, according to Barbara Williams, deployment coordinator with the Enterprise Resources Division.
"The Deployable Cadre Program is a centralized database of qualified contracting personnel who are ready to deploy to meet the needs of the Army. The program supports critical contingency contracting requirements beyond the scope of our day-to-day mission."
Potter began her tour in Iraq in November 2010 assigned as the PCO for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program. The LOGCAP base contract operates as an indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery umbrella contract and provides support services to augment the force structure.
It's Potter's responsibility to award task orders under the LOGCAP contract to leverage contractor resources for in-theater logistical support.
"On a daily basis I feel as if I make a difference supporting contingency operations," Potter said with pride. " I continually see the results of my efforts and there's a true appreciation for the support that I provide. My input is encouraged and my opinion is valued. This experience has definitely been the pinnacle of my career."
Armed with 16 years of contracting experience, Potter applied for the Deployable Cadre Program with the understanding that she may not be called to deploy. After a few weeks, Potter was asked to provide her resume. Two hours after submitting her resume, Potter received a phone call and the voice on the phone asked, how soon can you deploy?
"I had three weeks to prepare for deployment," recalled Potter. "I had to pack my apartment, hire a moving service and put my belongings in storage. This was in addition to the job requirements for deployment. I was stressed!"
Once Potter completed her transition to Iraq, she settled into her work with the LOGCAP contract providing support to both the Department of Defense and Department of State. The LOGCAP contract was first awarded as a DOD asset to provide combat support services.
This support expanded to include embassy operations with DOS. A major component of Potter's work has been supporting the drawdown of forces from Iraq with Operation New Dawn and the transition between the closing of LOGCAP III and the transition to LOGCAP IV.
In fact, Potter extended until March 2012 to ensure the drawdown and the transition was completed without the disruption of a PCO change. As a PCO, Potter is on call 24 hours a day, works seven days a week and is relied on to make many contractual commitments on the spot.
"The greatest challenge is the fast pace of operations," Potter said. "It's a very rapid environment and I have to make instant decisions without a great deal of prior information."
The experiences in Iraq changed her as a person, according to Potter.
"I realized that my love of contracting is hands-on and not reviewing policy," added Potter. "I understand that reviewing policy is necessary but I enjoy the problem solving aspect of contracting. I like assisting customers with making cost-effective decisions and discovering the best solution."
As Potter looks back over the past several months she also experienced some stressful times. She had to contend with the dangers of contingency operations and the sadness of people within theater being hurt or killed. Despite this, Potter still believes that "there's no better job than contingency contracting!"