JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 28, 2020) -- Soldiers of the 419th Contracting Support Brigade cased their colors May 21 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as the brigade prepares to join its mission partners supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan.
Due to the social distancing requirement, the ceremony took place in front of the 419th CSB headquarters building with the minimum required personnel in attendance and without a formal ceremony presided by an officiating party. Ten Soldiers performed the ceremony in front of a small gathering of family members, friends and mission partners who came to see the brigade off on its deployment delayed by COVID-19.
This is the third time the 419th CSB will assume command and control of the Army Contracting Command-Afghanistan.
“Contracting is a team sport,” said Col. Brad Hodge, the 419th CSB commander. “We need all the functions from contracting officers, policy experts, legal support, quality control and property management to ensure that the warfighter's requirements are met. When the brigade deploys the entire brigade team is ready to support the mission. The 419th CSB is again assuming the ACC-A mission at a pivotal point for the theater, with a lot of changes and the need to adapt to a new environment."
The 419th CSB will quarantine in Qatar before taking over the mission in Afghanistan from the 418th CSB, which will return to Fort Hood, Texas, after an extended deployment. The 419th CSB will uncase the colors in Afghanistan in June with the transfer of authority from the 418th CSB.
“We trained and became a team through support to Hurricane Dorian, our (EXEVAL) external evaluation and recent support to COVID-19 efforts,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Higgs, the 419th CSB command sergeant major. “As an innovative team of acquisition professionals, we are ready to provide U.S. and coalition forces the contracting support necessary to continue to build the Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces capacity and legitimacy.”
Both Hodge and Higgs touched on the importance of this deployment in a historical context, to set conditions for ending operations in the combined joint area of operations in Afghanistan. They also touched on the strength of the team deploying and the team staying behind.
“We spent months preparing for this deployment, while handling support to the immediate response force’s deployment in response to Iranian aggression, conducting a brigade external evaluation, and supporting defense support of civil authorities missions supporting Army North’s Operation Kill the Virus,” Hodge said. “We have also been in frequent communication via secure video conferencing with the current ACC-A staff and executed a rehearsal of concept drill to demonstrate the brigade's ability to manage the mission in Afghanistan and the continental United States mission with a single commander.”
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the ceremony in several ways, both obvious and less obvious. The original casing ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID-19 stop movement order, and the Road to War Brief was similarly postponed as units in the Central Command’s area of responsibility were extended; allowing for their nine-month deployment to continue as long as 12 months. When given the authorization to continue scheduled deployments, the brigade worked to get final deployment tasks complete while also supporting COVID-19 efforts and managing a workforce largely teleworking.
“The COVID-19 required adaptation and flexibility, but in the end, the 419th CSB stands ready to accomplish its assigned missions,” Hodge said.
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.
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