902nd Contracting Battalion participates in Talisman Sabre exercise
Erin Olenjack, left, Maj. Jacob Austin, Master Sgt. Michael Mctague, Sgt. 1st Class Alan Farr, Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua Maradiaga, and Roxan Boado pose recently for a photo during a break in their participation in Talisman Sabre 2021, which ran from late June to the middle of August in Australia. Talisman Sabre 21 is a multinational field training exercise that Australia hosts in odd-numbered years in partnership with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Talisman Sabre is a single-phase exercise that includes operational and tactical level training on combined force entry operation, culminating in a combined joint amphibious operation. The exercise uses a mid-to-high intensity conflict with opposing joint task force operating across all domains. This enables the assessment of the primary training audiences to improve combat readiness, advance combined staff forces’ interoperability, and exercise combined operational warfighting in the Indo-Pacific Theater. Olenjack is a contract specialist from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. Austin is a detachment commander, Mctague, an operations NCO, and Farr, a contracting NCO, are from the 902nd Contracting Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Maradiaga is a contract specialist from Camp Butler, Japan. Boado is a contract specialist from the 413th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
(Photo Credit: Army )

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington (Sept. 10, 2021) -- Soldiers from the 902nd Contracting Battalion’s Contracting Detachment A recently deployed from Washington State to Australia to participate in the Talisman Sabre 2021 Combined-Joint Training Exercise.

CONDET A Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, provided essential contracting support for the Talisman Sabre Combined-Joint Task Force to conduct multi-echelon training across all domains throughout eastern Queensland and the Northern Territory in Australia.

Talisman Sabre is the largest bilateral combined training activity between the Australian Defence Force and U.S. military, with approximately 17,000 military personnel from seven nations participating from late June to the middle of August. To achieve unity of effort and synchronization, contracting assets from the ADF, Joint Chiefs of Staff Logistics and the U.S. military worked side-by-side in a joint contracting office during the exercise.

Talisman Sabre provides a unique opportunity for joint and allied forces to working hand-in-hand to strengthen alliances, build partnerships, and promote security in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility.

“Working in the same space allowed the team to cross-communicate and determine the best acquisition strategy to procure goods and services in a timely and efficient manner,” said Maj. Jacob Austin, the CONDET A contracting management officer.

The team consisted of three Army contracting specialists, one Marine Corps contracting specialist, and two deployable contracting officers from the Navy. U.S. and ADF contracting personnel created a strong working relationship during the exercise.

Austin received all of the contracting actions resulting from injects and requirements from the supported units for the duration of the exercise. Austin was responsible for reporting all Talisman Sabre situation reports, combat update briefs, after action reviews, and story boards to the 413th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. In addition, he established a combined-joint contracting office that enabled effective communication and synchronization of both organic and contracted effects to close critical requirements gaps. Finally, Austin conducted daily synchronization meetings, briefed 413th CSB officials on urgent matters, and attended the Talisman Sabre planning conference.

Master Sgt. Michael Mctague, an operations NCO from the 902nd CBN, Roxan Boado, a contract specialist from the 413th CSB, and Erin Olenjack, a contract specialist from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, served as contracting officers for the joint contracting office, holding warrants ranging from under the simplified acquisition threshold ($250,000) to $1 million. Together the three had a combined experience of nearly 50 years in the contracting field. They served as subject matter experts, enforced contracting standards found in the regulatory law, directed the contract writing and Paperless Contract File cabinet organization, and signed all documentation with their warrant authority.

“Working in a joint environment allowed us to pull together a wide array of contracting experience and knowledge to ensure that we were able to meet contracting challenges quickly and efficiently,” Olenjack said.

Mctague served as the senior contracting officer for the exercise, and oversaw every contract written in support of Talisman Sabre. Boada and Olenjack conducted several naval vessel resupply missions while simultaneously working in the joint contracting office.

Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua Maradiaga served as contract specialist for the joint contracting office.

During the exercise, the joint contracting office completed several service and supply contract actions for rental cars, port operations, cellphones, Wi-Fi pucks, buses and customs. Maradiaga’s main focus was taking care of the Marine requirements and oversaw the field ordering officer program.

The joint contracting team oversaw each contracting action from cradle to grave; ensuring both the customers received support and contractors were paid. After redeploying back to their home stations, the team continued working on contract actions until every contract was paid and closed out.

Talisman Sabre was the newly structured CONDET’s second major exercise for fiscal 2021. The joint contracting team awarded 15 contracts and obligated more than $1 million in support of the exercise which directly enabled 100% successful theater entry and exit capabilities for multi-national mission partners by providing transportation and logistical support. In addition, the joint contracting team enabled the successful execution of the combined-joint amphibious operation which enabled training readiness and bolster interoperability.

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.