FORT STEWART, Georgia (May 19, 2020) -- As COVID-19 continues to alter training plans across the Army, Soldiers from the 611th Contracting Team at Fort Stewart, Georgia, sought alternative means May 12-14 for conducting its unit contingency contracting exercise, typically executed on post with co-located essential mission partners, to evaluate the team prior to deploying overseas for a mission.
“With COVID-19 we knew we were going to have to do something a little different,” said Maj. Joe Plotino, the 611th CT team leader. “Brig. Gen. (Christine) Beeler asked us to look at virtual or distributed methods because COVID-19 would not let us all be in the same place.”
The evaluation plan was two-fold: first to evaluate the 611th CT on its real-world COVID-19 mission supporting Army North in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and second to conduct a more traditional unit contingency contracting exercise, or UCCE, on the remaining mission essential tasks using distributed learning methods.
Of specific interest to the 904th CBN was evaluating the 611th CT on conducting contingency contract administration services that will be the bulk of work during the deployment. All members of the team participated in CCAS training provided by the Mission and Installation Contracting Command earlier in the year, but still lacked practical experience.
Maj. Paul Wolfe, the 714th CT leader, developed the exercise with the assistance from MICC headquarters training and exercise section personnel who assisted with resourcing digital training aids. Exercise planners faced a number of challenges, including how to conduct the exercise in a distributed environment, observe and mentor with many forms of non-verbal communication obscured by personal protective equipment, and evaluate and achieve performance measures with limited face-to-face communication.
The 611th CT was located in a conference room at Fort Stewart wearing masks and maintaining social distance while role players participated virtually via Microsoft Teams and other systems. Microsoft Teams allowed observer-controllers, role players and exercise administrators to see every task in real time. Each task had a dedicated chat window so that up-to-date information could be passed seamlessly to all role players and allowed aspects of tasks to be altered on the fly to stress the CT or highlight training and discussion points.
Trainers said the distributed UCCE was a success and, more importantly, the 611th CT and 904th CBN leadership are confident they are sending a team of purposeful acquisition professionals who are trained and ready to deliver disciplined and responsive acquisition solutions during their overseas deployment.
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.
Mission and Installation Contracting Command
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