By Sgt. Tony Hawkins/USASOC PAODecember 14, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - There's a new face on the block for Army contracting as far as U.S. Army Special Operations Command is concerned. The 905th Contingency Contracting Battalion officially stood up in October and is currently setting up teams across Army installations where Special Operations Forces are located.
Part of the 410th Contracting Support Brigade, Expeditionary Contracting Command, which activated about a year ago, the battalion is responsible for any contracting needs Army Special Operations Forces may have while overseas.
Last year, Expeditionary Contracting Command did about 65,000 contracting actions coming in just under $3 billion in obligations. The command handles all overseas Army contracting, such as in EUCOM or PACOM.
"We're very excited and thankful to have the opportunity to work in support of USASOC," said Lt. Col. Dennis M. McGowan, commander of the 905th CC Bn. "This is part of the formalization of expeditionary contracting and Army contracting. What it amounts to is a central point for all USASOC expeditionary contracting.
"We will have five contingency contracting teams in our battalion to support USASOC," McGowan added. "The teams will be co-located with Special Forces groups and will work at installation directorates of contracting so they can practice contracting before deployment."
Currently, the battalion is located in the USASOC headquarters building at Fort Bragg and the first of the five contracting teams is active at Fort Lewis, Wash. Considering the size of the battalion's headquarters, eight Soldiers and two civilians, there are not a lot of people responsible for a rather large mission, McGowan said.
"By the end of 2011, there will be four more operational contingency contracting teams from the battalion located at Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Bragg, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Fort Carson, Colo. The four-man teams consist of a major, a captain, a sergeant first class and a staff sergeant. All of these individuals are 51C contingency contracting officers.
Virtually any contracting need USASOC units may require while overseas can be handled by one of these contracting officers. Some of the contracts they typically make range from items like concrete barriers and portable toilets, to repairing road damage from improvised explosive devices and even turning an empty field into a patrol base. The teams are also capable of converting weapon systems with commercial off-the-shelf products.
"We do all this by training warrior contracting officers, who know the Federal Acquisition Regulation, their warrior skills and other common military tasks," he said. "They must be able to shoot, move and communicate downrange, and come back safely and ethically intact."
With the level of responsibility placed on these individuals, it is no surprise the level of training they require is extensive. From college courses to the Defense Acquisition University, as well as all of their common military training, members of the Army's newest military occupational specialty - 51C Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Contracting Noncommissioned Officers - must go through about a year and a half of training before they are available for deployment.
"Typically, we'll assess sergeants and above for the MOS," he said. "Upon completion of their schooling, sergeants are automatically promoted to staff sergeant. Once folks come to our teams, we train them for a year in an installation directorate of contracting office before we send them anywhere."
McGowan welcomes the opportunity for his teams to jump into action and said the process for support is very simple.
Whether there's a need for communications equipment on an ARSOF compound in the Philippines, or a facility needs repaired in Afghanistan, it's likely there will be a member of the 905th CC Bn. there to help.