By Ben Gonzales, Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2018 Public AffairsMarch 22, 2018
FORT LEE, Virginia (March 22, 2018) -- Approximately 125 members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Special Operations Command, Defense Contract Management Agency and British Army are participating in Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2018 March 19-23 at the Army Logistics University on Fort Lee, Virginia.
OCSJX-18 is a joint training event with participation from the Joint Staff and across the DOD to increase warfighter readiness by comprehending and leveraging their individual and collective understanding of operational contract support capabilities.
Participants are receiving tailored instruction in operational contract support that is supported by practical exercises in Phase I of OCSJX-18 at Fort Lee. Phase II of OCSJX-18 will build on the processes and lessons learned in Phase I to integrate OCS into Army Warfighter Exercise 2018-4 in an effort to increase warfighter operational readiness. Phase II is scheduled from April 3-6 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Carson, Colorado.
"Contracting is built into our national defense strategy," said Lt. Col. Wyeth Anderson, the deputy director of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Field Directorate Office-Fort Sam Houston in Texas and OCSJX-18 director. "Every mission the American military is involved in requires operational contract support. OCSJX-18 is designed so the participants understand the tools and procedures they can immediately apply to tactical, operational and strategic level missions both in garrison and in deployed and expeditionary locations."
The academics of Phase I are broken into three main areas: contract support integration, contracting support and contractor management. Exercise participants are also learning their roles and responsibilities attributed to operational contract support planning and execution.
"Operational contract support, or OCS, has to do with supporting a commander's mission with commercial sources," Anderson said. "Every military mission today is enabled by contracting support. OCSJX helps teach the joint force to get better and faster at using OCS to support these missions. We have identified 15 tools that will be presented to the 125 participants in this year's exercise. We have acquisition and non-acquisition participants here from all the services to coordinate and collaborate together so everyone understands the role and importance of OCS. Phase I classes are focused on improving the contracting process so the students can go back and put the lessons learned into the contracts they are working on at their installations or in a deployed environment."
Instructors are teaching students processes and procedures that have been beneficial to the customer as well to the contracting professionals, said Anthony Sligar, the acting deputy to the commander for 419th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who created the Simplified Action Threshold Supply Procurement Process, or S2P2. "Using S2P2, the MICC has taken the standard for SAT acquisition times from approximately 28 days to now the purchase acquisition lead time is advertised as two days, but we are getting them done in less than a day. We realigned the workflow in an optimal manner to ensure the acquisition process flows in one direction, which resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of time to get the contract in place. And this is something that is working great for the MICC and can be adapted for use by other services and agencies."
But the exercise is not only geared for contracting professionals.
There is an emphasis for more non-acquisition folks to be here in the exercise as well as the curriculum focused on non-acquisition training, said Marine Maj. Sheldon Webb, the officer in charge of the operational contract support section at Headquarters Marine Corps.
"The exercise is so beneficial because it helps with more requirements-focused development for all the participants. Operational contract support is a vital force multiplier that enables logistics and command decisions," Webb said.
Air Force Master Sgt. Marvin Mohamed is participating in OCSJX-18 to expand his breadth of experience of the contracting mission and because it will help him in his job as a fuels operations specialist with the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
"I can definitely take away the lessons learned to help my squadron work with contracting even better," Mohamed said.
Prior to being the chief of assessments at the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, Air Force Capt. Michael Paul was a contracting officer representative. With orders to be leaving SOS, Paul already knows he will be a COR again.
"Learning about micro-purchasing and S2P2 was really eye opening," Paul said. "I hope the Air Force can implement these tools."
Sitting in the classes with Mohamed and Paul is Ida Ramirez, a procurement analyst with the MICC Contracting Operations Directorate at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. As an adviser to OCSJX participants, Ramirez relies on more than 33 years of acquisition experience to guide participants.
"Participants are learning some of the difficulties in contracting and looking at other avenues that can help them accomplish their mission," Ramirez said. "Coming from jobs outside of contracting, exercise participants are understanding the contracting process and working together in order to get items for the warfighter where they need it and when they need it."
The importance of OCS is also vital to the British military.
Lt. Col. Dougie Brown is the British Army staff officer for contract support to military operations in the British military joint headquarters in London.
"My responsibilities are the management of contract support for all of the joint military operations in the world, which number 28 operations ongoing that have contract support," he said.
The differences in contract support varies widely between the U.S. and U.K. militaries, Brown said. "We don't have the level of training in contract management that you see the U.S. military. I'm here with several other British Army members learning how the American forces do contract management. What I am really getting out of OCSJX is the level of training the Americans put into the career field, which is far superior to what we do. I've been in the Army for 38 years now and have worked with the American forces numerous times, so coming here is beneficial to ensure we all use the same terminology. In addition, our working relationship is much closer the more we work together."
Bringing the joint services together was crucial to the success of OCSJX-18, said Brig. Gen. Bill Boruff, the MICC commanding general, as he spoke to the entire class and staff.
"Learning from the other services is a tremendous way to keep your career invigorated," Boruff said. "You can make a difference in what OCS does for the American military. What operational contract support brings to the fight is key to mission accomplishment."