By Michael A. Cooper, Expeditionary Contracting Command-AfghanistanApril 5, 2017
The U.S. Army Contracting Command is searching for motivated acquisition and mission support professionals to provide responsive professional contracting support and oversight solutions to enhance NATO, U.S., and Afghanistan forces' mission readiness.
I encourage all acquisition and mission support professionals to consider volunteering to support Expeditionary Contracting Command-Afghanistan.
Not having experienced working in Iraq or Afghanistan, I decided it was my turn to volunteer to deploy. I have previously had the privilege and honor of supporting our forward deployed troops. However, no other tour of duty has provided the experience of serving here in Afghanistan and the experience is beyond comparison to any job that I have had in nearly three decades of service.
Our small cadre of acquisition and mission support military and civilian professionals administers a wide range of complex and critical support services to coalition and U.S. forces. Examples include Army Materiel Command's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, private security base and airfield protection, intra-theater airlift, minor construction, and much more. Some contracts support the Afghanistan National Security Defense Forces-bulk fuel, the maintenance of Afghanistan's tactical fleet, and the ANDSF personnel pay system. The contracts provide the ANDSF forces with the operational capabilities to maneuver against their enemies and secure their citizens and country.
The mission provides ACC professionals an opportunity to expand skills, see those skills create immediate positive actions and enjoy the camaraderie of a multi-disciplinary team operating in a challenging, yet unique and remarkable nation.
Along with a great sense of accomplishment that comes with working in Afghanistan, the personal and financial rewards clearly outweigh the challenges. The many financial incentives for civilians more than compensate and provide a boost to your finances. For me, I have used this opportunity to augment my children's' college funds. The Rest & Recuperation Program is a paid program to ensure resilience and offer downtime. Some employees leverage this opportunity to travel to new destinations. So, is a tour in Afghanistan for you?
I was not sure what to expect from Afghanistan, an ancient land eerily nicknamed the "graveyard of empires," even after my sponsor provided key preparation advice. Besides leaving my family, personal security was my chief concern. Fortunately, the security of installation personnel is the number one priority of the senior mission commander. Immediately after arriving, I observed the comprehensive measures associated with inside-the-wire security, which greatly alleviated my concerns. I have learned about the installation security and force protection services since ECC-A administers those contracts.
My other major concern was the quality of life. Well, it is as expected. Living conditions are austere, yet comfortable, and all life support services are provided. There are five dining facilities on Bagram, a post exchange that has everything one needs for rustic comfort, great gyms with exercise classes, religious services, and bazaars selling wares from precious gems to local nick-knacks. If the exchange cannot provide it, many online retailers ship most items through the Military Postal System -- just like home. Keeping in contact with family and friends stateside is easy and not costly. Internet is available and most people here regularly use "Facetime."
What about that "staying left of bang" in the title? I am glad you asked -- it ties to Gen. Gustave Perna's, AMC commanding general, goal of getting ahead of the decision cycle. It is one of ECC-A's guiding axioms to ensure we proactively "operationalize" ourselves and our contracting support, that we remain keenly attuned to the needs of the NATO, U.S., and Afghanistan National Defense Forces. We aim to synchronize with AMC and other stakeholders to anticipate operational requirements and develop timely solutions, at a fair price, that provide commanders operational reach, freedom of action, and prolong endurance.
To accomplish that goal we need talented acquisition and mission support professionals that are capable, driven to operate in a high operational environment, and ready to reap benefits from making a positive difference. It's your turn…