By JOHN NEVILLE, Turret Staff WriterFebruary 9, 2009
Somewhere in Iraq a slab of concrete stretches four hundred feet.
It's a sidewalk, or at least some of it resembles one. But it's also a monument.
A U.S. Army Contingency Contracting Team hired the local Iraqi construction company that built the sidewalk. That's what CCTs do. They find vendors and service providers to help support U.S. military operations around the world.
Once they find a party to provide goods and services, the CCT writes and administers the contract, makes sure that the vendor is paid, closes out the contract, and ensures that the product or service is received and that it's up to required standards.
But it's the "around the world" part that can sometimes cause problems. Construction and commodity standards in other countries often aren't what they are in the U.S., according to Maj. Joel Greer, the team leader for Fort Knox's 631st Contingency Contracting Team. Greer was -- while attached to a different unit -- part of the team working with the Iraqi company that built the 400-foot sidewalk.
"You could see the definitive line where we decided to let an engineering brigade give them a construction class, but as it went along toward the end it looked pretty good," Greer said.
The Iraqis wanted to rip up and redo the early phase of the project, but, according to Greer, the Army decided to let the sidewalk remain "as is."
"It was meant to stand and serve as a monument to what Iraq was and what it can be," he said.
The 631st and its sister CCT -- the 632nd Contracting Contingency Team -- were formed in June. Each team is comprised of two officers and two noncommissioned officers. Since arriving on post, team members have been working with and learning from the installation's contracting staff. Both teams are scheduled for upcoming deployments.
Most of their personnel are new. In fact, the Military Occupation Specialty designator (51C) for the enlisted side of the team is the newest MOS in the Army.
Staff Sgt. Mark Reynolds of the 631st Contracting recently left his previous Abrams tank mechanic MOS to join his new unit. He applied while serving in Afghanistan.
"There is a lot of room for advancement," he said of his new job. "There are lots of sergeants major retiring, and there aren't many (Soldiers) around to replace them. I was a mechanic -- loved that and love being an instructor, but this is a whole type of new challenge. It's more than just carrying a bag full of money in downtown Kandahar, Afghanistan."
While the Army does prefer candidates who are considering applying for a CCT position to have a business background and some college, Reynolds said waivers are available.
The Army is also paying for master's programs for officers who select the field, and the Army is considering paying for advanced education for enlisted Soldiers as well. Maj. Richard Pfeiffer, who is also a member of the 631st, recently completed a master's degree with a focus on science and contracting.
"I'm learning something new every day," he said. "Every contract is different, and you get to see a customer at the end of the day who is happy because he got what he needed."