Integration establishes training ground for Soldiers
March 11, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Broadening contracting proficiency and increasing readiness are among the reciprocal benefits behind integrating more than 400 Soldiers at offices throughout the Mission and Installation Contracting Command beginning March 20.
Army Contracting Command officials announced in January the attachment of Soldiers to its contracting centers and MICC field offices throughout the nation in an effort to streamline the span of control from oversight of uniformed service members stateside while enhancing their professional development.
"The integration of Soldiers into MICC contracting offices will not only benefit MICC and Expeditionary Contracting Command but also the Army contracting profession," said Col. Antonio Brown, the director of the MICC Field Directorate Office at Fort Bragg, N.C., who will also command the 419th Contracting Support Brigade upon activation. "Pairing our Soldiers with journeyman contracting professionals will provide the opportunity to learn from the best in our field.
"Additionally, integration adds senior military leaders at the FDO level. This harmonizes mission command of the entire contracting workforce while enhancing the opportunity to provide better horizontal and vertical spans of control for contract oversight and responsiveness," he said.
Attaching Soldiers to the MICC gives command leaders direct supervision over day-to-day assignments by Soldiers supporting stateside operations. Military members will remain assigned to the Expeditionary Contracting Command, which will remain focused on its overseas and contingency support.
"Hands-on training, mentoring and guidance enable Soldiers to become more competent and confident contingency contracting officers in support of future expeditionary operations," said Brown, who was assessed into the Army Acquisition Corps in 1999.
Brown said attachment of the more than 400 Soldiers presents a challenge for offices already understaffed to find the time to mentor military members while meeting day-to-day workload requirements.
To assist that process, a cross-functional team of MICC headquarters personnel at Fort Sam Houston have been meeting since October 2012 to develop a guide that outlines a structured rotation training plan for contingency contracting officers. The plan charts training, education and experience requirements on a rotational schedule to best develop Soldiers for future assignments.
Mentoring and developing Soldiers' contracting skills through integration also will prove beneficial in providing greater predictability for many MICC offices that can assign work to newly attached uniformed members.
"These Soldiers will help balance the workload tremendously since about 60 percent of our actions are simplified," said Pat Hogston, the director of MICC Strategic Operations. "They will begin with simplified actions, but as their training is progressive, they will also be able to eventually assist in more complex service acquisitions."
Simplified actions include the acquisition of supplies and services, including construction, research and development, and commercial items not exceeding $150,000.
The integration of Solders with the MICC is being accomplished in three phases. The first phase this month includes attaching approximately 200 military members, assigned to the ECC, to 19 MICC contracting offices where many are already collocated. The command assumes primarily responsibility for the supervision, training, readiness and logistics support of the military personnel.
The second phase calls for the April 16 activation of the 418th CSB headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas, and 419th CSB at Fort Bragg under ECC and attached to the MICC. When fully staffed, each brigade will conduct personnel, operations, logistics and contract oversight functions as an FDO. Designated to command the 418th CSB will be Col. Timothy Starostanko, who is projected to arrive at the end of April. Brown arrived at the MICC-FDO Fort Bragg in July 2012.
The third and final phase of the integration takes place Oct. 1 with the attachment of the 412th CSB at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to the MICC. The 412th CSB will maintain its contracting mission in support of U.S. Army North.
The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter throughout Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.