By By Maj. Aaren M. Hanson, 413th Contracting Support BrigadeOctober 26, 2016
WHEELER ARMY AIRFLIED, Hawaii--As the 921st Contracting Battalion cased its colors and ended a chapter Aug. 30 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, a new chapter began more than 4,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific.
Lt. Col. Daphne Austin accepted the cased colors of the 921st from Col. Patrick Badar, the 413th Contracting Support Brigade commander, as she assumed command on Aug. 30.
"I am proud to stand before you as the first commander of the 921st Contracting Battalion in Hawaii. We are making history today, right here, and right now," Austin said as she addressed the audience after being charged with the responsibilities and authorities of battalion command.
Austin, who hails from Phenix City, Alabama, made some personal history as well. Eighteen years ago, she reported to her first duty assignment in the Army at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. As a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps assigned to 125th Signal Battalion, she credits the experience of her first three years in the Army for providing her the knowledge and capability to strive for excellence. Austin remarked that she never imagined that she would one day return to Hawaii to command a battalion, ironically, where she first led her platoon.
When asked about her new role as the 921st commander, Austin said that "This assumption of command attests to both our proud heritage and our commitment to improve Soldier support in the 25th Infantry Division and United States Army Pacific Command, keeping our Army strong and fit to fight.
"This new command is bringing the forces of acquisition, logistics, and technology to bear where it matters most…in support of our amazing warfighters," she continued. "The value of the 921st Contracting Battalion in its new capacity is to provide a deployable command post that is closely aligned to enhance operational contracting support to 25th Infantry Division while synchronizing and providing mission command for the seven assigned contracting teams around the Pacific."
As Austin assumed command of the unit, Sgt. Maj. Babette Bell assumed duties as the battalion's sergeant major. Bell, from Cortland, Ohio, has served all around the Pacific with the Army Contracting Command, but this is her first time serving in Hawaii. Bell said she is enthused about leading the Soldiers of the 921st as the organization starts the next chapter and is focused on ensuring the unit facilitates contracting solutions for the Warfighter.
In 2005, the Army determined that contingency contracting battalions would be formed to harness and direct all contract support to combatant forces. In 2015, the 921st CBn was earmarked to relocate to Hawaii to serve as a direct support contracting element for the 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks. The mission of the battalion in its new capacity in Hawaii is to serve as the primary contracting combat multiplier for U.S. Army-Pacific Command by increasing direct support to the Army with the pivot to the Pacific.
The battalion is headquartered here is comprised of seven teams located around the Pacific Area of Operations. The 603rd, 617th, and 729th Contracting Teams are located on Wheeler Army Airfield. The 650th Contracting Team is stationed at Yakota Air Force Base, Japan and the 680th Contracting Team is assigned to Kadena Air Force Base, Japan. The 618th Contracting Team is located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska and the 715th Contracting Team is assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska.