JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 28, 2019) -- From the first thoughts of a young man or woman entertaining the idea of joining the Army through the onboarding process, service and transition from uniform, contracting underpins a full spectrum of support.

The director of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, explains the contracting office's approach to classifying the Soldier lifecycle into three phases: the initial stage as "start strong," active or reserve phase as "serve strong," and transition phase as "reintegrate strong."

"At MICC-Fort Knox, we influence a Soldier before they realize they even want to be a Soldier all the way through until they separate, retire or pass away," Charles Trumpfheller said.

Among the contracting office's varied customer base are the Army Marketing and Research Group, Recruiting Command, Cadet Command, Human Resources Command, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, 1st Army East, Financial Management Command, 100th Training Division, Military Entrance and Processing Command, Fort Knox Garrison, Sustainment Command Logistics Readiness Center, 19th Engineer Battalion, Marketing and Engagement Brigade along with multiple one-star human resources and operations commands. Contract support for two other customers, the 84th Training Command and 11th Aviation Command, are transitioning to the MICC contracting office at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Advertising and recruiting efforts represent one the greatest endeavors by the contracting staff at MICC-Fort Knox. The office administers contract actions that support Army advertising to include television commercials, radio broadcasts, cinema promotions, media, billboards and digital banner ads on websites. Also, items presented to potential recruits during outreach efforts to include pens, shirts, backpacks, lanyards, coffee cups and hats are acquired through a contract with the government.

Support for recruiting entails a multifaceted contracting approach via the Virtual Recruiting Center, which includes the service's online and social media presence, lead refinement, customer service for various platforms, e-applications processing, and cyber tools. More accustomed contract buys help to furnish recruiting offices across the country and supply smartphones and tablets.

Start Strong
Trumpfheller defines the initial phase as beginning at enlistment and extending through six months following completion of initial military training.

"The intent of this phase is to familiarize Soldiers with career readiness standards essential to successfully beginning an Army career and establishing a road map for lifelong learning," he said.

The first introduction with contracted services for every member of the armed forces begins with the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command. USMEPCOM determines the physical, mental and moral qualifications of individuals voluntarily joining the service. The MICC contracts meals, lodging and transportation services at all 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations. Contracted services also include MEPS applicant management services, IT equipment, audio booths and X-ray machine maintenance, not to mention sign language and interpreter services.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command is responsible for recruiting, educating, training and commissioning tomorrow's Army leaders. In support of junior and senior ROTC cadets, contracts extend to IT equipment, encampments, meals, lodging and transportation for junior cadet leadership challenges as well as dry cleaning and laundry services, summer training to include life support services, and assessment testing. MICC-Fort Knox also fully supports the command's 18 weeks of cadet summer training - the Army's largest single training exercise to inspire and challenge roughly 12,000 cadets to develop them into leaders of character to fight and win in a complex world.

Serve Strong
The contracting director designates the second phase, "serve strong," as after the first year of service extending to once a Soldier's voluntary commitment is coming to an end or makes the decision to retire and pursue civilian career goals.

It is during this phase that MICC-Fort Knox contract administration is squarely focused on support of the Army's chiefs of staff for personnel and operations, plans and training as well as the human resources, garrison operations, logistics readiness, and financial management. Contracts support a variety of personnel management and training systems, operational planning support services, business process re-engineering and IT hardware and software purchases and maintenance.

"We are also working with the Army finance command to meet mandates to be auditable in order for Congress and the taxpayer to be assured that the Army is spending dollars exactly the way it is directed," Trumpfheller said, adding that this includes journal voucher and audit services, enterprise resource planning support, and business process standardization and improvement.

MICC-Fort Knox also supports the garrison in delivering services, programs and infrastructure for a diverse installation allowing it to serve as a platform for Army readiness. Those contracts include support for total facilities maintenance to include custodial, minor construction, grounds maintenance and environmental services. Additionally, the contracting office administers contracts for dining facility attendants and full food services.

Reintegrate Strong
The third phase of support for Soldiers, "reintegrate strong," is also considered the transition stage. The contracting director said it begins 24 months prior to transition for retirement or 18 months prior to a Soldier fulfilling their military obligation. From the human resources call center and claims and benefits processing to casualty administrative support and mortuary services, contract support helps meet the needs for total force Soldiers and their families.

Among the largest contracts, administration in support of HRC allows for services aimed at reducing the stress associated with transition through the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program, or SFL-TAP. The Soldier for Life Program is founded upon the central idea that once a Soldier, always a Soldier. Program services are connected to hundreds of private and public organizations that have assisted in post-service employment opportunities and training for veterans and their families.

"The SFL-TAP provides our Soldiers and their families with resources to be better prepared for their next chapter in life," said Barbara Mattingly, the MICC-Fort Knox contracting officer responsible for administering the contract.

Some of the services available are transition and financial counseling; transition planning advice; Career Skills Program support; employment-seeking assistance; marketing and hiring event support; and assisting employers with connecting Soldiers to open positions.

"Without this program many of our Soldiers would be lost when entering into the civilian job market. By having this program, our Soldiers will smoothly transition from the uniform to civilian attire and into their new job or career," Mattingly added. "This is the right thing to do for our men and women who do everything to defend us and our nation."

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.