Army, Air Force train together in disaster readiness

| February 19, 2016 | 0 Comments
Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force service members conduct a situational training exercise during U.S. Army Pacific's Disaster Training Exercise 16 January 25 at the 298th Regimnet Regional Training Institute on outside Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii.

Soldiers and Airmen conduct a situational training exercise, Jan. 25 at the 298th Regiment Regional Training Institute.

Story and photos by Sgt. Jon Heinrich
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

BELLOWS AIR FORCE STATION — The 413th Contracting Support Brigade (CSB) hosted U.S. Army-Pacific’s disaster training exercise 16 over a two-week period at the 298th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Hawaii, this month.

The 413th CSB, one of six CSBs of the U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command (ECC) provides direct support to U.S. Army-Pacific and provides garrison and expeditionary contracting to Army units and joint partners throughout the Pacific.

The ECC, a major subordinate command of U.S. Army Materiel Command, is a worldwide contracting organization with an authorized strength of more than 1,200 personnel operating in 30 permanent contracting offices and seven contingency contracting offices supporting global readiness.

The joint Army-Air Force exercise was to assess the ECC’s team-level operational proficiency while preparing them for expeditionary contracting missions as a team or as part of a regional contracting office.

Contracting units procure supplies and services to enable unit readiness in garrison environments and then use contracts to support unit commanders and the application of that readiness in expeditionary environments.

The focus of the training this past week was on contracting and operational contract support operations in support of a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief event in the Pacific. The training exercised all members of USARPAC fiscal triad: Contracting, Resource Management and Legal.

Training participants received replicated operational contract support scenario events that ensured the entire procurement community was exercised from requirements development, to disbursement of funds, through contract closeout.

Participating units included the 402nd Army Field Supt. Bde., 411th CSB, 902nd Contracting Bn., Air Force Installation Contracting Activity–Pacific (AFICA), 766th Specialized Contracting Squadron, 175th Financial Management Supt. Center, USARPAC Directorate of Resource Management, 307th Signal Bn., and 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

“The (exercise) is where we train our personnel on the uniqueness of contracting in expeditionary environments, so they are best prepared when they support contingency missions,” said Army Capt. Raven Cornelius, a contracting officer with 413th CSB.

“It validates the importance of what we do as contracting officers. When we send a team out to support the Pacific warfighter, we want to make sure we send the best contracting professionals possible who are fully prepared to rapidly support their unit to accomplish the mission.”

The exercise also provided new contingency contracting officers the opportunity to learn how to lead a team in a contingency, according to Cornelius.

“The exercise offers scenarios they would not normally encounter in a garrison environment,” Cornelius said. “It helps prepare them for situations typically encountered on a deployment and allows them to use their critical thinking skills to provide the necessary supplies and services while operating as stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

The training allowed the Army and Air Force to synchronize their abilities, giving both branches the ability to operate seamlessly in a joint environment.

“I think it’s important that we learn from each other from a collaborative standpoint, so we can understand best practices and standard operating procedures,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Austin Clark, executive officer, for AFICA out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “In today’s environment,” he continued, “the Army and Air Force often deploy together, and this sort of training builds shared understanding of how our services operate. In the end, we will be better prepared to support commanders and their mission due to the training here.”

The exercise lasted for 10 days and trained approximately 120 service members, all acting as either trainees or mentors for a scenario that had U.S. forces providing requested support to international relief efforts after a simulated earthquake in Indonesia.

The first week was geared toward Soldiers’ Warrior Task Training, with the second week focusing on contingency contracting operations.

“I honestly am a big fan of these exercises,” Cornelius said. “I participated in the (exercise) as a trainee in 2013, and it really set the conditions for future success in support of units in expeditionary environments.

“As a result of this training, both Army and Air Force participants are better prepared to help our warfighters accomplish their missions during their multiple deployments across the Pacific,” he said.

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