VICENZA, Italy – While COVID-19 has affected many things worldwide since early 2020, the need for Soldiers to train remained, to include a recent 414th Contracting Support Brigade evaluation exercise held at Caserma Ederle.
The Army Contracting Command event, supported by the Mission and Installation Contracting Command headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was held from Aug. 9-13. It’s the first evaluation the command conducted live since COVID-19 started, said Col. Frankie Cruz, commander of the 414th CSB.
“When we first started this exercise evaluation planning, it was going to be hybrid-virtual and face-to-face communication,” Cruz said. “Luckily, because the COVID-19 environment stabilized, and Italy has done a good job in managing the situation, we were able to bring the teams, actually travelling in person to assisting and executing, which makes it truly an external exercise.”
This summer, the brigade is amid its summer transition of personnel. The exercise helps prepare the brigade for potential deployment anywhere in the world and take care of any contracting requirement, said Diego Forero, an MICC exercise facilitator.
“We provide the exercise design, planning and execution in order to assess the brigade with their Mission-Essential Task, which is an Army requirement to assess the commander during his tenure,” Forero said.
It was the first time Maj. Michael Morgana, a 414th CSB contracting officer, took part in this type of exercise since joining the Acquisition Corps.
“I’ve been through several company, battalion and brigade level exercises in my previous life as a logistics officer. It was amazing to have the team together after the COVID-19,” Morgana said. “It has kept us separated for the better part of a year combined with the high turnover of personnel in the brigade, we needed this opportunity to come together as a team,” he said.
The exercise supported team building, said Sgt. First Class Justino Surla, 414th CSB.
“As we move through the EXEVAL, we are learning each other's processes and refining how we provide layered contracting solutions and oversight,” Surla said. “With the new changes in our roster, the gains come with a plethora of experience that is setting the foundation for success for any worldwide deployment.”
Trainers and observers also said the exercise was positive.
“It’s an excellent opportunity,” said Maj. Alex Bonilla, of the 409th CSB Evaluation team from Germany.
“As a sister brigade, our mission is similar. They are responsible for contracting for Italy and Africa, and we are for the same type of work in Germany and Northern Europe.”