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Offutt contracting specialists prepare for contingency operations

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

If the 55th Wing is ever called upon to deploy to a ‘bare base’ location, the 55th Contracting Squadron will be ready to answer the call.

More than 22 enlisted contracting specialists participated in an exercise May 8 – 12 designed to improve contingency contracting capabilities for the buildup of an overseas base.

“The Air Force enlisted career field of contracting exists for the purpose of deploying and supporting contingency operations,” said Lt. Col. Hayes Weidman, 55 CONS commander. “In years past, as a functional community, we got away from squadron-level bare base training because of the constant churn of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This exercise is consistent with Air Force Contracting’s emphasis on re-invigorating readiness for bare base operations."

 

The five day exercise was split into three phases to include a non-contingency build-up phase, a contingency sustainment phase and a turnover-close out phase.

"This training reaches beyond the typical deployment and considers joint operational contracting support as a force multiplier,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Swistak, 55 CONS superintendent. “Our outstanding team built a tough curriculum with realistic objectives focused on our core mission as well as providing agile contracting support in future conflicts.”

 

In each phase, scenarios were introduced with tasks and challenges contracting specialists might be faced with in a deployed environment. For this exercise, cultural and language barriers were also taken into account.

“We land in theater and get requirements to build the base up,” said Tech. Sgt. Kade Forrester, a 55 CONS contracting specialist who specializes in construction. “Some of the requirements are concrete to build a flight line, steel, basic sustenance such as office supplies, communications, vehicle requirements and interpreters – you can’t really communicate with the locals without an interpreter.”

Other exercise lines of effort addressed customer education, blanket purchase agreements, security plans, and how to respond to different logistical issues that might occur while deployed to a foreign country.

The final phase of the exercise focused on completing and closing out contracts so the base could be turned over to the host organization.

Swistak emphasized the importance of the training that falls in line with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force’s “Ready to Fight” focus area.

The exercise participants agreed.

“This prepares us for the future,” Forrester said. “If we ever have to deploy to a bare base, we’ll be ready and equipped for it, and can hit the ground running.”