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Multi-National Partners Integrate with U.S. Joint Forces at OCSJX-15

April 11, 2015
By Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes, OCSJX-15 Public Affairs cell

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- U.S. forces and civilians integrated with service members from three multi-national partnering nations are here to participate in Part B of the largest contract support exercise to date, Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2015.

While multi-national partners have participated in OCSJX before, this year was the first time service members from the U.K., Canada and Australia were fully integrated into the planning and execution of the exercise.

OCS encompasses the planning, execution and oversight of government contracts for goods or services in support of military operations. The multi-national partners practice OCS, however often refer to it as Contract Support on Operations (CSO).

'CSO is important because contractors and contracts will be a factor of every kind of operation that we conduct in the future,' said British Army Brig. Jon Brittain from the Joint Forces Command for the U.K. 'I think this has been recognized by senior leaders and now it's the responsibility of those involved to make sure that we properly integrate, and use skills to have sensible contracts. It is also important we understand the implications of those contracts, both on the country that particular operation is taking place, and how we conduct our own activities with the capabilities and forces that we have. It is a fundamental part of how we will conduct warfare.'

Brittain said the lessons multi-national partners were learning at OCSJX-15 are fundamental to their own force development work, and they welcome the opportunity to shape contract integration and contract management.

'The multi-national partners have a very important role in OCS, which is why it is crucial they are participants in the exercise,' said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Louis Orndorff, OCSJX-15 officer in charge and Air Force District of Washington Headquarters deputy director of contracting. 'They have an opportunity to use OCSJX-15 as a coalition platform to see the ways we are solving problems, and bring their own problems to the table.'

During this exercise the multi-national partners are playing two roles, Orndorff added. They are on the staff at the Combined Task Force level, performing the OCS role they would in a contingency operation. They are also acting as observer trainers for the exercise scenario to see how certain situations would play out among their own team who imbedded with U.S. Forces.

British Army Lt. Col. Ian Hurley, 2 Operational Support Group commander with the 104 Logistic Support Brigade in South Cerney, U.K, said they are very glad to be included in OCSJX-15 and it is a very beneficial experience.

'Every country has to reduce spending on defense, and therefore CSO becomes more important as time moves on,' he said. 'We will not be able to conduct our operations without CSO, and the second and third-order effects of CSO can be used as a non kinetic tool.'

Hurley added that there were three takeaways from OCSJX-15. The first was taking part in the academics phase and learning how the Americans execute OCS while sharing best practices. The second takeaway was the scenario execution, being part of the CTF OCS integration cell and learning interoperability. The third was the chance to meet people conducting the same business in different armed forces they can exchange ideas and thoughts with.

'We are inevitably going to work together and deploy to a theater together, so we need to understand how each nation does CSO or OCS, and have it as integrated as it can be,' Hurley said.

Orndorff agreed it was beneficial to integrate OCSJX-15 and learn about OCS together.

'When we go to war, we don't go by ourselves anymore, we go with our coalition partners, and that is why it is so important for them to be integrated in how we do business,' Orndorff said. 'The more we are on the same page when we are in the battle space and using resources and OCS, the better.

We want to make sure we are thinking together about how to solve some of the hard problems. As OCS is about effects, it's not just the effects of U.S. forces on the battle field; it is also about the effects of our coalition partners with us on the battle field.'

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