JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Jan. 29, 2021) -- Two members of the 676th Contracting Team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord virtually took part in the 2021 Disaster Training Exercise providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command response to notional landslides in southern Thailand.
Maj. Laura Houck and Sgt. 1st Class Alan Farr’s participation in the 413th Contracting Support Brigade training event marked a historical milestone for the 902nd Contracting Battalion as the first contracting detachment, or CONDET, on JBLM to conduct a disaster training exercise for validation.
In a fiscal 2020, the director of force management for the Department of the Army approved the table of organization and equipment for Operational Contracting Force Design Update Junior. The FDU Jr. reorganizes contracting brigades and battalions to provide enhanced capability and capacity, and reorganizes contracting teams into detachments organic to contracting battalions for greater flexibility in the distribution of support to aligned force headquarters, according to Master Sgt. Enrique Torres, an operations NCO with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, who is helping lead the reorganization effort. He added the reorganization mitigates capability gaps codified within the Army Futures Command Future Concepts and Center database. The change, impacting the teams aligned with the MICC’s nine battalions, minimally impacts the number of assigned active-duty personnel.
Houck served as the contracting management officer for the duration of the disaster recovery exercise, receiving all of CONDET A’s contracting actions resulting from exercise scenarios and requirements from supported units.
“The exercise was extremely beneficial for fostering a learning environment and training as a new contracting detachment,” Houck said. “Despite COVID-19, the exercise was value-added for all, from new contracting personnel to seasoned veterans. We were all able to takeaway contracting knowledge that we did not know before.”
More than 100 Soldiers and civilians participated in the exercise from Washington State and Hawaii to Korea and Japan, which included personnel from the 906th CBN CONDET A, 921st CBN CONDET A, 906th CBN CONDET B, 921st CBN CONDET B, and 413th CSB. Twelve military and civilian personnel participating were from the 902nd CBN.
“We incorporated three civilian contracting personnel from the MICC into our detachment to cross-train, level our experience and learn new skills from each other. I’m excited to be part of this unit,” Houck added.
She was responsible for reporting all DTX 21 information, including situation reports, combat update briefs, after action reviews, story boards, and procurement instrument identification number log to 413th CSB command team. Her role also included establishing a regional contracting office, and keeping communication between the contracting support office, mobile contracting teams and command team. In addition, Houck conducted daily sync meetings, briefed 413th CSB on urgent matters and conducted a vendor conference.
Farr, who only recently accessed into the Army Acquisition Corps, served as a contract specialists for Mobile Contracting Team 1, addressing the requiring activities’ needs and providing communication between the supporting unit, funding office and vendors.
“Walking into this disaster recovery exercise, I knew very little about contracting,” he said. “At times during the training, I felt like my head was going to explode. Without a shadow of doubt, after the week I knew much more about my new job as a 51C.”
During the exercise he completed several service and supply contract actions for wood planks and plywood, gravel, cots and tents, vehicle rentals and portable showers. During these contract actions, he trained on Procurement Desktop-Defense, Standard Form 1449, Solicitation/Contract/Order for Commercial Items, SF 44, Purchase Order-Invoice-Voucher, Army Form 3953, Purchase Request and Commitment, Defense Department Form 250, Material Inspection and Receiving Report, foreign vendor electronic funds transfer, Section 889 covered telecommunications equipment or services-representation, and simplified acquisition price analysis, and award memorandum. In addition, Farr helped update daily reporting slides and after action report comments as well as conducted contracting officer representative training.
With the restructuring of contracting battalions in fiscal 2021, CONDET A tested newly developed standard operating procedures in order to prepare for contractual support to joint exercise Talisman Saber in Australia during summer of 2021. Despite COVID-19, the CONDET participated in the exercise in person on JBLM while successfully following social distancing protocols, readying the detachment to fully support its mission partners.
Editor’s note: Contributing to this article was Maj. Laura Houck of the 902nd Contracting Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
About the MICC
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-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. As part of its mission, 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.