By Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeNovember 25, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Nov. 25, 2013) -- A contract specialist deployed to Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command is witnessing firsthand his direct impact on contingency operations.
Dane Bolanos is assigned to the MICC Installation and Support Programs Contracting Division at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Arriving in country for his year-plus deployment during the summer, he serves as a flight chief for the non-tactical vehicle super-cell at the Regional Contracting Center-Capital. His contracting cell is responsible for providing accountability and oversight for non-tactical vehicle leases supporting more than two-thirds of Afghanistan.
Bolanos, who holds a Master of Business Administration from Webster University, entered contracting as an intern six years ago. His job at MICC-Fort Sam Houston entails processing a variety of service projects to support tenant units and other assigned installations throughout the Army. In Afghanistan, he said that experience has expanded to include a wide array of contract actions ranging from negotiation, cost and price analysis, and contract administration to include the more specialized and unique requests for equitable adjustments and termination of contracts.
"The performance of my team's contracting duties in a contingency environment directly impacts the security and economic well-being of U.S., NATO coalition, and Afghan forces within Afghanistan," he said. "Our contracting actions have a direct impact on the warfighter and the current retrograde process. It is extremely rewarding to know the services my team provides via our contracting actions have positively affected our military service members."
Retrograde involves the disposition of equipment during the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. He said the sheer volume of contract actions can make for a demanding day.
"The work can be challenging but at the same time rewarding. The days are long but the weeks seem short," said the San Antonio native, who spends what little free time he finds talking with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, playing cards or listening to Salsa music. "The constant changes in priorities to meet the current mission posture require a great deal of flexibility. There is also the steady turnover (and) redeployment of contracting personnel, which can lead to some loss of institutional knowledge."
Bolanos said the training received at the CONUS Replacement Center helped mentally prepare him for the deployment but found that while many of the contracting processes are becoming standardized across the Army, there can be a steep learning curve when working under a joint contracting command.