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Contracting support to CENTCOM nearly doubles in combat areas

January 25, 2012

By Mr Edward G Worley (ACC)

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army Contracting Command is almost doubling its support to the war fighter in theater this fiscal year, sending almost 100 contingency contracting officers to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.

ACC's Expeditionary Contracting Command is deploying elements of three contingency contracting battalions and an Army Reserve contracting battalion to support the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. The first group of Soldiers deployed in February.

"This is a significant increase over our prior year commitments," Jeff Parsons, then ACC executive director, said. "This demonstrates our success in building the contingency contracting force."

Parsons conducted a site visit to the CENTCOM Contracting Command resulting in additional requirements for contingency contracting officer support, according to Col. Jerry C. Jones, ACC Operations (G3). Brig. Gen. Joe Bass, ECC commander, approved the additional requirements. Jones said ECC provided more than 50 contingency contracting officers to the CENTCOM theater last year.

ECC's support to CENTCOM will come from the 900th Contingency Contracting Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 901st CCBn, Fort Hood, Texas; and the 902nd CCBn, Fort Lewis, Wash. Also deploying are Soldiers from the Army Reserve's 915th CCBn, Baltimore, Md. The 412th Contracting Support Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, will deploy contingency contracting officers to ACC-Rock Island, Ill., to provide reach back support.

Jones said the mission objectives are improving command and control, and contract management, across CENTCOM contracting operations, providing additional resources to mitigate shortfalls at all critical nodes, leveraging both active duty and reserve component resources, establishing a contracting network that can be adaptive to the changing environment, and providing sustainable support for potential future requirements.

"We are standing up and able to provide full spectrum contracting support to the combatant commander," he said. "We're able to meet the increased requirement because we are at about 95 percent of our overall authorized strength."

Contingency contracting officers must have at least one year of contracting experience before deploying into a combat area of operations, Jones explained.

The 412th facilitated a joint contingency contracting readiness training exercise, Operation Joint Dawn, at Fort Campbell, Ky., Jan. 24--Feb. 4, 2011. The exercise simulated field contracting conditions and was designed to assess and prepare more than 100 deploying active and reserve component Soldiers and airmen on basic contracting and warrior tasks. Actual Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom contracting scenarios were used to provide realistic challenges faced in the regional contracting centers that the participants will run.

The group received warrior skills training and participated in expeditionary contracting operations, working in simulated regional contracting centers where they executed contracts and dealt with vendors, suppliers and customers.

Lt. Col. Carol Tschida, 900th CCBn commander, said Operation Joint Dawn provided contracting officers and non-commissioned officers some of what combat units gain through pre-deployment training at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

"This training is very important for contracting officers because we don't have the opportunity to get together like this and practice for pre-deployment," Tschida said. "This exercise is a culminating event. We're training on warrior tasks and contracting officer proficiency guide tasks. We put all that together in realistic scenarios of what CCOs can expect to see in theater so that they are prepared for realistic scenarios and for handling those situations when they happen."

Jones said the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq will not affect the contracting officers deploying there. He said a few CCOs will remain to support ongoing U.S. missions and contract closeout.

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