FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Maj. Gen. Flem B. "Donnie" Walker, Jr., commanding general, 1st Theater Sustainment Command was the guest speaker at the Operational Contract Support (OCS) Course, Oct. 16.

Walker discussed the importance of working with contractors in theater and understanding how to evaluate them and their performance. According to Walker, the Army employs several multi-million dollar contracts. Contractor accountability is vital from a monetary standpoint.

"We have about 60 major contracts that I track at my level," Walker said. "We are limited on the number of forces we have in theater. We have to leverage contracts to be able to do all the things we need to do."

Walker said the first thing a graduate of the OCS course needs to do when working with contractors is reading the contract. The second is de-obligations, or making sure the money that's been awarded is being used exactly the way the contract states as well as doing the inspection checklist. Third, they must know how to write a contract, as not many people know how to do that.

Walker emphasized the need for OCS graduates, and how they affect what takes place in a deployed environment.

"I can't stress enough the importance of this course, for what I am trying to do in theater," said Walker.

Echoing Gen. Joseph Votel, United States Central Command commander, Walker referred to contracting as a "by, with and through" operation. This phrase calls attention to a new way of warfighting. Contractors provide the 'by, with and through' muscle, working alongside the front line Soldiers as well as sustainers who support the mission, giving the warfighter what they need, before they need it.

"We live and die by the contract everyday and our ability to execute that," said Walker.

The OCS course is 10 days and prepares graduates to plan, manage and administer OCS in support of contingency operations. This course is taught at the Army Logistics University at various campuses across the world.