A simulated storm tore through Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, as part of a military exercise, providing realistic training scenarios for the 926th Contingency Contracting Battalion.

Three contingency contracting teams participated in STORMEX, May 14-16, with the assistance of civilian mentors from the Army Contracting Command -- Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"The intent of the exercise was to conduct realistic operational contracting support in a simulated disaster relief environment," said Lt. Col. Derek Draper, 926th CCBn commander. "As a result of this training, the CCTs understand their responsibilities in a crisis deployment, the roles of local key leaders and directorates and the 926th CCBn's integration into the garrison emergency operations center."

On the first day of training, the major focus was performing simplified acquisitions of needed supplies such as bottled water and sleeping cots. Each participant had a copy of the "Defense Contingency Contracting Handbook" to assist and spent time researching actions at or below the micro-purchase threshold. These purchases are normally performed with a government purchase card; however, for the purpose of training, the card was not available for use and the teams learned to complete a Standard Form 44 (purchase order invoice voucher) as a manual contracting tool.

Col. Gregory R. McClinton, APG garrison commander, and members of his staff, visited the STORMEX training site.

"The 926th CCBn members detailed the contracting support we provide to APG on a daily basis, but we also demonstrated our contingency contracting capabilities in case of a weather-related emergency," Draper said.

Letter contracts were discussed on day two of the training. According to Draper, this type of contract is a useful tool for acquisition flexibility.

"A letter contract allows work to start immediately with a binding commitment to the contractor and offers an alternative to negotiating a definitive contract when time is limited in a disaster environment."

The teams also trained on the termination of a previously awarded contract. The exercise ended with after-action reviews conducted at both the team and the battalion levels. Mentors worked with their assigned teams to evaluate what went right and what could have been done better.