By Mr. Frederick R Poole (ACC )March 3, 2011
The 900th Contingency Contracting Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C., invested almost a year planning then executing the Expeditionary Contracting Command's annual two-week training exercise, Operation Joint Dawn held at Fort Campbell, Ky., Jan. 24 through Feb. 4.
More than 200 active Army, Air Force, Army Reserve and Army National Guard members participated in the pre-deployment training exercise for contingency contracting professionals.
The 900th is a subordinate unit of the 412th Contracting Support Brigade, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
"The overall concept of Operation Joint Dawn was to ensure that contingency contracting officers interface with one another on a joint level, learn from one another, build leadership skills as well as develop unit cohesion prior to deploying into theater," said Maj. Freeman Bonnette, 900th CCBn plans officer. "The training included joint forces because our goal is to train as we fight and our objective is to make sure they are prepared to execute their contracting mission once they land."
Lt. Col. Carol Tschida, 900th CCBn commander, and Bonnette took the lead on the majority of the coordination prior to Joint Dawn's Jan. 24 start date at Fort Campbell, Ky. The 900th had options to hold the training in Fort Drum, N.Y., Fort Bragg, or Fort Riley, Kan.
"Making a decision on location involved a number of factors such as cost and availability of training resources," said Tschida. "Fort Campbell stood out as the best available facility providing the resources required at the targeted exercise."
Bonnette and the 900th CCBn staff at Fort Bragg collaborated with outside agencies to develop training scenarios and to assemble training packages, as well as to determine the curriculum to conduct exercises.
The 900th brought in subject matter experts from the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program and professionals in military finance, quality assurance, legal and policy. Tschida said they also presented training on processes and procedures in place in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Tschida said the CCBn reached out to contracting officers currently deployed to receive examples of real contracts that were as recent as December, making Joint Dawn as realistic as possible.
"These officers provided information ranging from what works for them down range to what needs improvement while in that environment," said Tschida. "We've also taken all the lessons learned from Bold Impact and applied it to Joint Dawn to further enhance this year's training."
Operation Bold Impact was the 412th CSB's first pre-deployment exercise held at Fort Riley, Kan. last year. It did not involve other military branches.
Bonnette said there were few minor challenges upon arrival to Joint Dawn. First was ensuring that each agency's technical equipment could communicate upon arrival.
"Information technology technicians from the 412th CSB, the Business Transformation Agency and the Expeditionary Contracting Command configured each participant's information technology equipment and established a network to facilitate contracting operations for the exercise," said Bonnette.
Col. Jeff Morris, 412th CSB commander, said military contracting professionals, officers and enlisted, are Soldiers first and need to maintain their warrior skills as well as their contracting abilities. He said next year's exercise will be prepared and executed by another 412th battalion with plans to add Navy and Marine contracting officers and a finance detachment.