JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Feb.019, 2020) -- Mission and Installation Contracting Command Soldiers are helping lay the acquisition groundwork to ensure essential services and supplies are in place as the Army prepares for its largest European exercise in 25 years.
Contracting Soldiers from the 901st Contracting Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, and 904th CBN at Fort Stewart, Georgia, have been planning for and begin deploying this week to integrate to area operations of the 409th Contracting Support Brigade at Sembach Kaserne, Germany, in support of Defender-Europe 20.
Defender-Europe is a U.S. Army Europe-led, joint, multinational training exercise demonstrating the deployment of a division-size combat force from the United States to Europe. Approximately 37,000 U.S., allied and partner nation service members are expected to participate, including about 20,000 Soldiers deploying from the United States, supporting NATO objectives to build readiness within the alliance and deter potential adversaries, according to USAREUR officials.
Lt. Col. La'Tasha Watson, the 901st CBN executive officer, explained that planning efforts by the battalion began as early as 2018 while the unit was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"Upon redeployment, we've continuously refined our mission analysis in order to ensure individual readiness and operational contracting support integration with our mission partners," she said. "To ensure the steady state of personnel medical readiness, we've executed quarterly fitness testing, weapons qualifications, Soldier readiness processing, personnel accountability and recalls, setting the conditions for continued success."
Watson added that the 901st CBN took a deliberate approach to train more than 50 III Corps personnel on field ordering officer and contracting officer representative requirements to ensure units have the flexibility to provide immediate contract oversight and procure commercial items in support of the exercise upon arrival. The battalion completed the last of three field ordering officer training sessions with the 1st Cavalry Division at the end of January.
Following a November 2019 planning conference in Warsaw, Poland, the 901st CBN initiated its strategic planning efforts collaborating with III Corps units to include the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 1st CD, 407th Army Field Support Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 36th Engineer Brigade.
"Having the opportunity to participate in the planning stage of the exercise has tremendously helped the 901st CBN assess its internal capability, and incorporate timely mission partner and education training for Fort Hood units," said Maj. Wilson Griffin, who will lead the battalion's 710th Contracting Team.
Leading the 904th CBN's 714th CT will be Maj. Paul Kilgore, who said the team has been transferring workload and duty responsibilities in preparation to deploy from late April through June. Ahead for the 714th CT is a planning meeting with the 928th CBN to which it will align for the exercise.
"Our role thus far is to provide area support, which means that we will assist any units that come to our area in Poland," said Kilgore, whose efforts thus far have been primarily in support of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. "I look forward to supporting our allies and seeing the unique capabilities and requirements they bring to the fight."
The 901st CBN and 714th CT are synchronizing contracting support efforts with the 409th CSB, 928th CBN and Theater Contracting Command. Contracted requirements for the exercise include all basic life support services throughout Europe and Poland, non-tactical vehicle support, cell phone services, transportation services, dining facility services, tents and light sets. The majority of requirements are being executed through, host nation support as well as Logistics Civil Augmentation Program and Navy Support Procurement Agency contract vehicles, administered by both contracting units.
Additionally, members of the 900th CBN and MICC at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, executed a critical contract in support of XVIII Airborne Corps subordinate units at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Bragg involving 500 of the more than 13,000 pieces of equipment for Defender-Europe.
The main body of the 901st CBN deploys in the coming days for approximately 90 days as part of the advanced operational node element of the 1st CD to continue providing contracting and business advice to mission partners. The 901st CBN command team deploys in early April for about 45 days to primarily focus on emergent contracting requirements as well as post-award and contract administration.
Lt. Col. Kizzy Danser, the 901st CBN commander and deputy director for MICC-Fort Hood, said the opportunity to support Defender-Europe 20 will allow contracting teams to operate in a contingency environment while managing various contracting vehicles, CCAS requirements, field ordering officers, Government Purchase Card, acquisition and cross-servicing agreements as well as other agreements.
"Any opportunity a 51 Charlie has to support an exercise or mission is valuable to their development, especially an exercise of this magnitude," Danser said. "Contracting personnel will have the chance to see the execution of a strategic-level operation and understand what impacts their support have on the mission. Lastly, this is a huge opportunity for the 901st CBN to finally be able to effectively exercise operational contracting support with its aligned unit, the 1st Cavalry Division, in a dispersed theater of operations."
Kilgore agrees that Defender-Europe 20 also offers immeasurable benefits to members of his contracting team.
"It's one thing to talk about contingency contracting in the classroom and another thing entirely to do it out in the real world in a dynamic environment," he said. "There are several challenges that we will face there that we simply won't face here at home station, such as language, currency and distance, not to mention working with the armies of several different countries."
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.