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NEWS | Dec. 9, 2010

Soldiers work alongside Airmen in the 902nd CONS

502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

Contracting and equipping the workers to cut the grass, furnish offices and do housekeeping, among other jobs on base, is the provenance of the 902nd Contracting Squadron.

As part of today's joint service environment, the 902nd CONS trains members from other services to work in wartime contingency contracting in addition to Airmen.
"On 1 Oct. 2010, an Army Contingency Contracting Team assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, embedded with the 902nd CONS to begin training on operational contracting," said Lt. Col. Michael Waggle, 902nd Contracting Squadron commander.

"The team is assigned to the 916th Contingency Contracting Battalion whose mission is to provide responsive contingency and mission contracting support by rapidly preparing, soliciting and awarding critical supply, service and construction contracts at the point of need in support of [United States Southern Command], US Army South and joint war fighters across the full spectrum of military operations," he said.

"The Army contracting personnel are truly excited about the opportunity to train with the Air Force not just in contracting, but in any other opportunities that may be presented," said Army Major Gregory Montgomery contingency contracting team lead. "We have been welcomed with open arms and surrounded with a plethora of knowledge from military and civilian personnel. Simply put, we all get to feed off each other's knowledge and prepare for future operations."

"We welcomed them into our shop like any other accession. We're training them like any other Air Force person - officer or enlisted - who come through the shop," Colonel Waggle said. "We give them a career field education training plan just like Air Force personnel."

Colonel Waggle said he is able to cross reference training requirements from the Career Field Education and Training Plans to the Army Soldier Manual of Common Tasks, the Army's system for outlining and recording specific training, so he knows where the Soldiers stand in their training.

Training the Soldiers isn't a negative reflection on the capabilities of the Army, rather it is a change begun at the congressional level to better suit the current needs of the entire Department of Defense.

The CWC is a bipartisan Congressional commission established in 2008 to study wartime contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The Air Force is filling the Department of Defense's wartime contracting mission by providing more than 80 percent of the joint contingency contracting individual augmentees," General Shackelford said. "As a result, our contracting personnel are currently at a 1:1 dwell, meaning they are deployed for six months and stationed at home for six months."

Having the Soldiers training in his unit is a "win-win situation for the Air Force and the Army," Colonel Waggle said. "The Army gets help with training their personnel while the Air Force gets some needed manpower help in the operational buying flights. Additionally, the Army and Air Force contracting personnel gets exposure to different Service's culture and processes. This will help acclimate them into the Joint Contingency Contracting environment in Afghanistan and Iraq."

"Other newly assigned personnel will begin training in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement between the Army and Air Force senior leaders. The training is beneficial to all newly assigned contingency contracting personnel, enlisted and officers," he said. "The training supports the shortfalls the Army is experiencing with contracting personnel based on the increase in force structure as a result of the Gansler Report in 2007."

An Army news release from Nov. 1, 2007 about the report said it "traced many of the difficulties to post-Cold War cuts in the Army acquisition budget, which led to an undersized acquisition workforce in the face of an expanding workload."

"The overwhelming majority of our contracting workforce, civilian and military, is doing an outstanding job under challenging circumstances," former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said.