By Maj. Gary Croston, 900th Contracting Battalion contracting support officerFebruary 25, 2019
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Feb. 25, 2019) -- Soldiers and Airmen partnered to conduct the second annual Joint Contracting Exercise spanning 30 unique scenarios centered on a Panamanian drug interdiction operation Feb. 11-13 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Servicemembers from the 900th Contracting Battalion, 4th Contracting Squadron, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 905th Contracting Battalion made up teams composed and led by a mixture of both Airmen and Soldiers.
Lt. Col. Jason Miles, the 900th CBN commander, and Lt. Col. Stephanie Myers, 4th CONS commander, charged their staffs to create and conduct what has now become a joint contracting exercise.
The joint integration created a realistic environment that all personnel will likely experience at some point in their career. Those making up the units' operational contract support integration cell, or OCSIC, are no strangers to deployment, and all four organizations are prepared to deploy worldwide to provide contracting support across a full range of operations. To build upon that, training stressed the importance of integrating contracting teams with the OCSIC and customer.
For the Air Force, this was an introduction to the role of the OCSIC in requirement generation and validation. Recent operations in support of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Florence have proven that sharing joint operational environments can be expected going forward.
"This was yet another great JCX. This exercise really got after enhancing each Soldiers confidence to excel and work as a team in a joint environment," said Col. Brad Hodge, commander of the 419th Contracting Support Brigade.
The 900th CBN along with three additional contracting battalions make up the 419th CSB, located at Fort Bragg.
"This year's scenarios made each team think through operationalizing contracting and work collectively with an OCSIC to improve planning and execution," Hodge added. "To better support warfighter requirements, it's necessary for our contracting teams to train and be nested with operational contract support personnel so that they have the tools, techniques and procedures necessary to deploy and execute contracting support with confidence."
Participants worked through operational phases facing unique challenges. Those included procuring hypothetical supplies such as machetes, tarpaulin and lumber; services such as donkeys to transport cargo through jungle terrain; and construction. Teams also faced local payment issues, unauthorized commitments, disgruntled contractors and aggressive customers. Contracting professionals not only needed to determine an appropriate method of procurement but also advise supported commanders and their staff on capabilities and proper operational contract support in the joint operations area.
During stabilization in the final phase, teams focused on contingency contract administration services for multiple base camps that were incorporated into the exercise in order to perform administration of complex services.
Organizers said great effort was put forth to cover the four operational phases in just three days.
"I'd like to thank our Army teammates from the 900th Contracting Battalion for inviting us down for the second annual joint contracting exercise. I was very impressed by the level of collaboration taking place during the exercise," said Col. R. Ryan Messer, vice commander of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. "The synergistic sharing of knowledge between the Air Force and the Army was incredible. Each group worked seamlessly together sharing ideas, information and teaching each other new ways to accomplish the mission."
Messer added that the officers and noncommissioned officers in charge "were able to take a group of people, some of whom they've never worked with before, and create one cohesive team focused on providing sound military advice and accomplishing the task at hand."
Miles said JCX-19 was every bit as successful as the previous year and pushed the standard of contracting to new levels by incorporating Air Force and sustainment partners into the process. He added this incorporation creates a long-term planning consideration for all organizations to emulate across the Department of Defense. As such, the planning for next year's event will incorporate actual Fort Bragg tenant unit customers that will generate requirements.
"If we plan, train and exercise together, tactical and operational success shall follow," Miles said.
The two battalions and 3rd ESC are located at Fort Bragg while the 4th CONS is located at Seymour Johnson AFB. The 900th CBN is subordinate to the 419th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Bragg, which is aligned to the Mission and Installation Contracting Command. The 905th CBN supports special operations and reports directly to Army Contracting Command.
About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.