JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Aug. 14, 2019) -- Members of the 902nd Contracting Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, are providing operational contract support from June 6 to Aug. 15 to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command forces training as part of the Talisman Sabre/Hamel 19 exercises in Australia.

The exercises are bilateral training activities designed to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Australia and posture the alliance for future operations across the Pacific region.

USINDOPACOM is one of six DOD geographic combatant commands and is in charge of using and integrating U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps forces within the its area of responsibility to achieve U.S. national security objectives while protecting national interests.

"Promoting interoperability amongst joint and multinational forces is the key to success in this bilateral combined Australian and United States training activity," said Capt. Elena Smith, a contract management officer for the 625th Contracting Team from JBLM presently deployed to Australia. "At the early stage of planning, the regional contracting office -- consisting of a team from 902nd CBN, Pacific Air Forces and Marine Corps Forces Korea contracting officers -- was able to integrate well with the 10th Support Group at Okinawa, Japan, which served as the leading logistics effort to provide support for TS19."

The combined contract management finance cell is comprised of the 10th SG contract coordinator, the RCO, U.S. Army Pacific resource manager, mutual logistics support order manager and Australian Defense Forces contracting officers.

"We quickly learned each other's processes with an open mind and constant communication, embracing our cultures, therefore enabling shared understanding across the cell," Smith said. "Together, we were able to provide supported units with all required capabilities to achieve their training objectives."

The cell executed contracts for seaport and airport debarkation operations. The port operations was a combined effort with the regional contracting office, combined movement coordination cell, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and ADF Joint Movement Unit. The RCO was fully integrated throughout the planning process. The result was staging, onward movement and integration of more than 2,500 military personnel and 500 pieces of equipment. The unity of effort between the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia planners led to all supported units meeting their training objectives and achieving interoperability according to Smith.

The exercise focused on contracting support for port operations, line haul and charter bus services, communications equipment, rental vehicles, power generation and environmental control unit types of acquisitions.

The team also provided contracting support for inland transportation.

"The RCO had the support of a great contracting officer's representative in the CCMC for inland transportation," Smith said. "The COR was able to provide up-to-date transportation requirements to the RCO for execution of blanket purchase agreement calls in Queensland, Australia. The mutual trust between the RCO and the COR enabled the positioning of personnel and equipment for key training activities."

The RCO established a blanket purchase agreement with two vendors to provide mobile phones and Wi-Fi to supplement tactical communication networks. The mobile phones and Wi-Fi facilitated knowledge management and shared understanding throughout the RCO supported units.

Townsville, Australia, is the planned logistics hub for a future exercise. Smith met with the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, Port of Townsville management, and ADF officials to develop a vendor listing for future contract support.

"The RCO is focused on developing relationships with local vendors by engaging with the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, chief executive officer of the Port of Townsville, and local Australian Defense Forces installations," Smith said.

Acquisition personnel have obligated more than $1.4 million as of July 26.

During the exercise the team supported United States Army Pacific Command including a multi domain task force with units from 2nd Infantry Division Artillery, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, and 634th Brigade Support Battalion Illinois National Guard, Pacific Fleet, Marine Forces Pacific, Pacific Air Forces and Special Operations Command - Pacific.

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.