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Contractors help equip warfighters

by Senior Airman Clark Staehle
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

7/30/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- The local base magazine, sports drinks, construction projects ... many servicemembers pass by these things everyday not knowing where they came from, how they got here or how they're maintained. 

That's where the 379th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron comes in. 

The 379th ECONS procures the supplies, services and construction needed for day-to-day operations, said Tech. Sgt. Brooke Boyd, 379th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron infrastructure flight chief and contingency contracting officer. Sergeant Boyd is deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. and is a native of Fayetteville, N.C. 

The contracting squadron oversees 22 contracts, totaling $101 million. They also oversee hundreds of purchase orders, government purchase card buys and blank-purchase agreements.  But the mission here doesn't differ too much from operations stateside. 

"At home station, contracting supports the units on base who will eventually deploy into the area of responsibility so there really isn't a difference in the mission," Sergeant Boyd said. "We support the war fighters at home and abroad." 

One of the big differences here is how the squadron procures some items.- They meet with vendors downtown. Much of what the squadron buys for the base can't be gotten through their contracts in a timely manner. 

"(Contingency contracting officers) are required to go off base to conduct face-to-face business with local vendors in order to equip the war fighter with mission-critical items in an expeditious manner," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Johnson, 379th ECONS contingency contracting officer. "Often we are reacting to an urgent requirement that needs to be filled quickly." 

The squadron buys things like furniture, electronics and tools downtown for several reasons.

"We are fortunate to be in an area where a majority of our requirements can be found in the local populace," Sergeant Johnson said. 

The urban area near the base and its proximity to large cities means there's a wide variety of merchandise that can be purchased with relative ease. The money the Airmen spend in the local economy also helps strengthen host-nation ties. 

"Buying locally stimulates their economy and enhances America's ability to foster a good relationship," Sergeant Johnson said, who is deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. 

Buying items off base also enables the contracting Airmen to pass on their procurements to the servicemembers throughout the AOR who need it most. 

"We are in the business of getting war fighters the needed equipment in the shortest time possible so that they can carry out their mission," sad Sergeant Johnson, a Danville, Ill. native. "Sometimes procuring and shipping equipment from the states can be quite lengthy and expensive. Buying locally provides a practical solution." 

But, for the Airmen who comprise the 379th ECONS, the job, whether working on- or off-base, is all in a day's duty. 

"From bottled water to new facilities to clean facilities, ECONS makes it happen," Sergeant Boyd said. 

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