NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. -- Time and material are normally the first two factors cited as being challenges that Security Assistance Command personnel face in their jobs. Karen Grant, a central case manager for Iraq in USASAC's CENTCOM Central Case Management Division at the New Cumberland office, knows firsthand about these challenges.

"In addition to the changing atmosphere, deadlines are short and expectations are high," Grant said.

With the U.S. troops' pullout of Iraq last fall, the operational tempo dramatically increased to get what the Iraqis needed for a self-sustaining national defense.

For example, Grant was asked by U.S. Forces-Iraq to obtain training material needed for the Operation and Maintenance New Equipment Training and Collective training for the Howitzer. This included training manuals, Graphic Firing Tables and Tabular Firing Tables. Grant and her team had approximately two months to locate the items needed and have them shipped to the training location. She looked at every available option.

"We first reviewed the items that may have been ordered for other cases and could be diverted to use at the training location. … Some of the items were no longer in the USG supply system," she said. According to Grant, purchasing the items through a contract would not meet the deadline.

Grant coordinated a solution through the office of Deputy Assistant to the Army for Defense Exports and Control.

"We were able to work with DASA-DEC and receive the justification to obtain War Reserve stock to meet the deadline and put the items on contract to pay back the War Reserve," she said.

Grant and her team obtained other items by purchasing through the USASAC training line and then having them commercially delivered to the training location.

"We worked on receiving Tabular Firing Tables for the specific ammo the Iraqis were using and had them shipped to USASAC for reproduction and shipped (commercially) to the training site," she explained. "To obtain all the items in a timely manner, this required daily interaction with DASA-DEC for War Reserve authorization, coordination and cooperation from AMC LCMCs (life cycle management commands) for high priority delivery, supply sources, OSC-I (Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq) and shippers to track to final destination."

The effort required constant monitoring of each of the orders with various organizations and providing weekly updates to the OSC-I team. Not only did Grant and her team meet the first OMNET training requirement, they repeated the process a few weeks later in response to USF-I for the same list for collective training.

"She (Grant) did an outstanding job of training and motivating the team during a time of high operational tempo and changing personnel in USF-I/OSC-I," Keith Schaffner, CENTCOM Central Case Management Division chief, said.

Grant's team includes another central case manager, one financial specialist, one supply technician and two contactors. Her Iraq team handles approximately 200 cases with an estimated program value of $5 billion.

"In addition to Iraq funded cases, we have cases funded by Iraq Security Forces Funds. These cases must have all items on contract before the funds expire and continuous coordination with the LCMCs as the year ends, reporting directly to DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) for possible requirements for additional funds or reporting a return of excess funds in enough time for the OSC-I team to use for other requirements," Grant said.

The most recent FMS (foreign military sales) challenge in Iraq is the transportation of material into the country because direct military channel flights ended with the drawdown in December 2011 and processes were not in place for surface movement. "In December, I rallied all the transportation organizations and others together on a weekly teleconference, to include DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency), TRANSCOM (U.S. Transportation Command), CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command), ARCENT (U.S. Army Central), SDDC (Surface Deployment and Distribution Command), 595th Transportation Brigade, CDDOC (CENTCOM Deployment Distribution Operations Center), DSCA, the (AMC) LCMCs, HQDA G4 (Headquarters Department of the Army G4), and OSC-I personnel to work the issues," Grant said.

The team cleared the backlog this month and devised a solution.

"We will use the channel flight to Kuwait and CDDOC has agreed to support OSC-I with this effort until a direct flight can be obtained or a permanent process has been established," Grant said.

She credits experienced CCMs with teaching her different aspects of the case management, and mentors such as Donna Rickabaugh and Linda Lewis, a retired USASAC employee, who now works as an Iraq team contractor, for serving as mentors. Grant, who has 32 years as a government employee and 20 years with USASAC, advises her team members to learn from the experiences around them.

"Working FMS is not something you learn in one day or one month or one year. It takes years of experience and even then there always seems something new to learn."

She also tells them that working the Iraq program will prepare them for any challenge they may have in their careers ahead.

Grant's supervisor best states how Grant ensures USASAC's Iraq FMS cases are completed despite the short deadlines, and the changing personnel and environment.

"Ms. Grant is at her best when these types of urgent requirements hit. She takes control and delegates to the team so the tasks are completed and pulls everything together," Schaffner said.