FORT LEE, Virginia (Aug. 31, 2021) -- Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials are providing contracting support for Afghan special immigrant applicants who began arriving to Fort Lee, Virginia, at the end of July as part of Operation Allies Refuge.
Soldiers from across the MICC’s 419th and 418th Contracting Support Brigades as well as contracting staff at MICC-Fort Lee are supporting the Department of State’s mission of relocating the special immigrant applicants.
The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing temporary housing at Fort Lee and other military installations for Afghan special immigrants and their family members. The MICC-Fort Lee staff of 18 Army civilians began advising on various contract vehicles in support of that relocation for those brought to the United States for Special Immigrant Visas. This initiative follows through on America’s commitment to Afghan citizens who helped U.S. forces.
Task Force Eagle prepared temporary housing, medical care, food, religious support and other living needs for Afghan special immigrant applicants. The first group of approximately 200 Afghans arrived at Fort Lee July 30. With additional Afghan special immigrant applicants arriving since July 30, the contracting support mission grew requiring six additional MICC contracting Soldiers to travel to Fort Lee to assist with mission acquisition requirements.
“Staff Sgt. Adrian Baladad and I arrived on July 17, and we immediately began looking for lodging for our guests,” said Maj. Gary Croston, a contracting officer with the 419th CSB at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “We guided all of our mission partners on the right path in a streamlined process to have one single point of contact that generates and approves the requirements.”
“After market research, we were able to find a General Services Administration contractor that could provide the rooms needed,” Croston said.
Additional Soldiers were brought in to join Croston and Baladad from the 419th CSB, including Lt. Col. Jeff Redecker from the 419th CSB; and from the 925th Contracting Battalion at Fort Drum, New York, are Master Sgt. Lamine Fall, Staff Sgt. Igor Malyshev, and Maj. Victor Montellano.
“MICC personnel are fully integrated to provide the critical business advice and immediate contract support for this evolving mission,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Lowrey, the MICC commanding general. “The early integration of contracting support is essential across all of our operations to ensure mission success.”
MICC officials also procured all furnishings for a support building on Fort Lee. Some installation units provided their excess equipment and furnishing to help meet mission needs. Tables, chairs, microwaves, dividers, cabinets and refrigerators were required to support the inprocessing and stay of the special immigrant visa applicants.
“We did coordination with the operational contract support integration cell, and determined which requirements could be purchased through the Government Purchase Card or easily procured through local units,” said Malyshev, who is a contract specialist. “Since then, I have been training the contracting officer representatives who need to be trained who are supporting this mission. We have had to work with different units to define what was needed, and we are moving forward.”
Key to delivering critical supplies and services is synchronized and integrated contracting support.
Considerable coordination with the 406th Army Field Support Brigade officials was necessary for drawing up Logistics Civil Augmentation Program requirements for this mission, Croston added. “We also had to work with Army Contracting Command-Rock Island officials to get delegation of authority on the contract for the administrative contracting officer to make adjustments to existing contracts in place.”
MICC Soldiers are finding that many of the contracts being executed are not so different from those executed in a contingency environment for which they are quite familiar.
“We deploy and provide contingency contracting for our customers so the mission gets done. This mission is just like contingency contracting when I have deployed overseas,” said Baladad, who is a contracting specialist and has deployed twice as a 51 Charlie. “This is what we train for. We are prepping the contracting detachment to come in and make sure that the requiring activities have what they need for this mission.”
That experience along with the immediate response for contracting support was recognized by MICC’s mission partners.
“I have never seen a more rapid surge of support as I have seen for this mission,” said Vince Grewatz, the Installation Management Command training director. “We were able to surge people from every stakeholder organization in 48 hours. MICC contracting folks came in from all over the place. Everyone pulled together to make the resourcing happen. I have never seen a more successful surge of resourcing. Everyone within Army Materiel Command aimed on target. It’s a fast moving train, and the teamwork on this mission was outstanding.”
It’s all about teamwork, said Debbie Frankovich, the MICC-Fort Lee director for more than five years.
“The level of teamwork to accomplish this mission involved the MICC-Fort Lee staff, the MICC headquarters staff, Soldiers from the 419th CSB and 925th CBN, and with every partner at Fort Lee,” she said. “It’s been an incredible experience. We are communicating consistently with our mission partners to address what contracts are needed next week and what will be needed down the line weeks from now. When you have the mentality that ‘I am not going to fail,’ then you just do what you need to do.”
Assisting the special immigrant visa applicants means a lot to Frankovich.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to assist the SIVs,” she said. “It is the least we can do to help. They put their lives at risk in their country, so bringing them here is the least we can do. It is our turn to return the favor. The fact that they saved American lives is priceless.”
MICC acquisition personnel are also providing contracting support for Operation Allies Refuge at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and Fort Bliss, Texas, as well as other emerging sites to include Fort Pickett, Virginia.
See more about Operation Allies Refuge here: https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/OAR
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. 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.