By Maj. Charles C. Allen, 715th Senior Contingency Contracting TeamSeptember 23, 2013
CENTRAL QUEENSLAND, Australia - For U.S. and Australian military contracting and finance experts operating out of the Defence Support and Reform Group here, Talisman Sabre was more than a joint exercise. It was a real-world mission that demanded high-level, collaborative efforts to source a variety of complex requirements needed by a broad spectrum of exercise participants.
Talisman Sabre is a biennial training activity with more than 28,000 participants jointly sponsored by the Australian Defence Force Joint Operations Command and the U.S. Pacific Command. The exercise, in its 13th iteration, was conducted in July and August. It enabled forces to meet Australian and U.S. training objectives in a complex war-fighting environment, with the intent to reinforce the key strategic relationship between both countries.
The exercise called for cross-leveled logistics where joint contracting support played an essential role. Consistently identifying both the benefits and challenges of contracting in a combined and joint environment were critical components toward ensuring the success of the exercise.
"Strong lines of communication and the increased ability to coordinate support are a functional benefit of the Combined Contract Management Cell," said Maj. Michael Goodknight, U.S. Army logistics representative, 45th Sustainment Brigade Hawaii. "However, the duplication of processes can often present unique challenges."
The CCMC, an ad hoc element that consisted of U.S. military (uniformed and civilian )
contracting, finance and logistics experts, was designed to enhance the war fighter's requirements sourcing capability in a joint exercise environment. CCMC personnel were selected one year prior to the beginning of the exercise. Building cooperative relationships with Australian contracting and finance counterparts was important to the combined team's success. Participants used that lead time to build those relationships by conducting a series of planning conferences in Australia and the U.S.
"The most significant benefit of the CCMC is that each service component brings a unique experience to the table that greatly enhances the sourcing process," said Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Wade, contracting officer, 618th Contingency Contracting Team, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Wade said the unique capability of a multinational contract and finance management cell was most noticeable throughout the shared sourcing process of the more difficult requirements that stretched across most of the eastern coast of Queensland. For example, transportation service requirements often appear to be seamless contracting actions in the eyes of the war fighter. However, these types of requirements involve enormous amounts of cross-leveraged contractual assets because host-nation support capability fluctuated depending on current real-world operational commitments.
"One of the primary challenges during Talisman Sabre 13 has definitely been sourcing the hire cars (car rentals)," said Capt. Daniella Andretski, ADF Army Financial Services Unit. "However, through the excellent working relationships developed over the course of the exercise, we maintained open communication and streamlined our processes along the way."
During the exercise U.S. contracting and finance members processed 124 mutual logistic support orders valued at more than $650,000.
Combined contracting and finance management equated to joint success at Talisman Sabre. Realizing and capitalizing on the benefits of combined efforts, and recognizing the unique challenges involved in sourcing such a large exercise, meant continued success for future allied endeavors.
"The success of Talisman Sabre rests on our ability to build relationships with our coalition partners." said Maj. Judy Pye, ADF 2nd Force Support Battalion. "We observe each other conducting business, and learn where we may improve on our weaknesses and leverage our strengths."