By Ben Gonzales, Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2018 Public AffairsApril 10, 2018
FORT CARSON, Colorado (April 10, 2018) -- Contracting Soldiers participated in Phase II of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2018 to showcase the benefits of operationalized contracting to the warfighter April 3-6 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Carson, Colorado.
Soldiers took lessons and tools learned in Phase I of OCSJX-18, which was held March 19-23 at Fort Lee, Virginia, and executed Phase II parallel to the Army's Warfighter Exercise 18-4 at Fort Bragg and Fort Carson.
OCSJX-18 is a training event focused on increasing warfighter readiness by comprehending and leveraging individual and collective understanding of operational contract support capabilities. Holding OCSJX-18 simultaneously from forces at Fort Bragg and Fort Carson demonstrated the importance of integrating contract support and requirements development to their perspective corps and division.
Soldiers from the 900th Contracting Battalion participated in Phase II of OCSJX-18 as the 419th Contracting Support Brigade (rear) and provided support to the XVIII Airborne Corps. The primary 419th CSB staff is deployed to Afghanistan. Likewise, 918th CBN members are worked closely with the 4th Infantry Division.
"Operational contract support, or OCS, is the link between warfighters and the commercial support necessary to fight and win our nation's wars," 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. The tools and processes that were provided in OCSJX-18 Phase I are directly applicable to the scenarios in OCSJX-18 Phase II.
"Our long-term goal is to have our contracting support brigades and contracting battalions fully integrated into the Army Warfighter exercise program," Anderson added. "What we are doing with OCS Warfighter, which is Phase II of OCSJX-18, is working through a contracting support scenario aligned with Warfighter Exercise 18-4. Our goal is to train contracting brigades and battalions like the Army in Warfighter exercises. In our exercise, contracting support tasks are being exercised so commands can validate their mission-essential tasks. This is all part of operationalizing contracting. The return on investment is improved processes and improved relationships with our operationally aligned divisions and corps that will directly enhance readiness for our warfighters."
Interjecting OCS into Warfighter Exercise 18-4 is Lt. Col. Dave Jimenez, the OCS division chief for the Mission Command Training Program for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. As a member of the Operations Group X-ray during the exercise, he worked to ensure the exercise staff recognized contracting as a force enabler.
"We hope to open the eyes of the training audience to the importance of OCS. OCS is the commander's business, and without OCS you cannot successfully integrate sustainment in the concept of the operation," Jimenez said. "Most challenges I see at the corps level is staff integration. Corps staffs need to understand their responsibilities in OCS, and how they can leverage OCS to help close any capability gaps they may have."
Conducting OCSJX-18 at the same time as WFX 18-4 demonstrated Soldiers can further develop their contracting skills while supporting the warfighter.
Providing contracting support while preparing the road to war for OCSJX-18 at Fort Bragg is
Lt. Col. Jason Miles and members of the 900th CBN.
"We are providing the road to war and conducting contracting mission analysis in support of OCSJX to ensure our forces are completely ready when they deploy," said Miles, the 900th CBN commander. Deploying is something with which Miles and his contracting Soldiers are fully aware. He and members of his battalion provided contracting support for DOD forces providing relief for victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Florida and Puerto Rico.
"OCSJX-18 is a great precursor to future operations as OCS will be fully integrated with the warfighter," Miles said.
The exercise was a great learning tool for the Soldiers at Fort Carson, too.
"OCSJX-18 has been a great evaluation tool to ensure our battalion is ready prior to our upcoming deployment," said Lt. Col. Tom McFall, the 918th CBN commander. "The exercise helped identify strengths and areas to improve on, but overall the exercise has been a fantastic learning experience."
Learning how to integrate contract support as the Army goes to go to war is the objective of OCSJX.
Contracting Soldiers implemented performance orientation training in Phase II of OCSJX-18, said Command Sgt. Maj. Marco Torres, the MICC command sergeant major.
"Putting Soldiers into scenarios where they must apply what they learned in Phase I of OCSJX-18 has many advantages for the Army as it shows that contracting allows commanders to fill in capability gaps to make the fight effective," Torres said. "Contracting also increases readiness and combat power as acquisition efforts take care of the needs and requirements of Soldiers and their families. Contracting touches every aspect of what we do in the Army, from preparation to the actual deployment."
OCSJX-18 taught many lessons about the preparation of deploying.
"The importance of OCSJX-18 is in setting the stage for the battle - phases zero and up to three - and as they go to the kinetic portion and transition to phase four, we'll see a big influx of contracting requirements as we stabilize the effort," said Brig. Gen. Bill Boruff, the commanding general of the MICC from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. "Requirements for support from commercial sources exist in all phases of Army operations. The goodness of practicing OCS in phase zero to three is to allow the warfighter to do the kinetic operations while also identifying contracting requirements in support of phase four stability operations. As we go into phase four, OCS and contracting units will maintain responsiveness to the requirements to keep the battle running."
The next step in Army Contracting Command unit's integration into Army warfighter exercises will see the 901st CBN at Fort Hood, Texas, integrated into Warfighter Exercise 18-5 in May with the 1st Cavalry Division.