NEWS | July 29, 2015

410th Contracting Support Brigade cases colors for first brigade HQ deployment to Afghanistan

US Army Mission & Installation Contracting Command

Members of the 410th Contracting Support Brigade cased their organizational colors during a ceremony at Fort Sam Houston Monday, signaling the first deployment as a brigade headquarters since its activation in May 2007.

Approximately 20 members of the 410th CSB will depart in the coming days to Afghanistan where they will serve as the command and control element of Expeditionary Contracting Command-Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Col. Rick Harger, 410th CSB commander who will assume the role as the principal assistant responsible for contracting and lead the organization in Afghanistan, set expectations for the deployment.

“I expect 410th CSB Soldiers to have a safe deployment and continue to provide premier contracting support by asking questions, paying attention to detail and ensuring each contract action – no matter the dollar value – is ‘worth every cent,’” he said. 

The deployment follows a transition earlier this year to provide operational contract support from the U.S. Central Command Joint Theater Support  Contracting Command to ECC-Afghanistan as the Army becomes the lead service for contracting.

The 410th CSB will take on the command and control mission from members of the Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command’s 418th CSB that deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, in February.

“The 418th CSB assumed lead service for contracting responsibilities and have paved the way for our assumption of those duties,” Harger said. “We have been preparing to replace them since February and have many of the same responsibilities of a lead service for contracting while supporting Army South and the U.S. Southern Command.”

Maj. Jason Zmijski, the 410th CSB chief of operations, said ECC-Afghanistan will consist of the 925th Contracting Battalion from Fort Drum, N.Y., along with its 601st and 611th Contracting Teams.  Additionally, the Army National Guard’s 1956th Contracting Team from Austin, Texas, as well as Army Reserve’s 664th Contracting Team from Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., make up ECC-Afghanistan.  

Together, Zmijski said they will be supporting the Combined-Security Transition Command Afghanistan and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan – the agencies that facilitate the transfer of power to Afghanistan government.

“Of course, the main customer is the warfighter. As green suiters, we’re the ones who will help in buying their beans and bullets as well as the other supplies and services that sustain the Army,” Zmijski said of the Soldiers from Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain who will make up the combatant command.

ECC-Afghanistan also will be responsible for administering the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program as well as Contingency Contract Administration Services tasks over the coming months. LOGCAP and CCAS were both previously managed by the Defense Contract Management Agency.

“In terms of our mission set on the ground, the CCAS is something that typically does not fall in the 51 Charlie mission,” Zmijski said. “It’s kind of a different skill set. We had to increase our understanding of the practices and tools to execute CCAS.”

To better prepare, a team from the brigade traveled to Rock Island, Ill., in June to participate in a CCAS-focused exercise.

Brigade members also have been in constant contact via video teleconference to learn the duties of administering CCAS to ensure the delivery of supplies and services in accordance with contract terms.

Harger added that deployments also present a great opportunity for Soldiers in the contracting and judge advocate general military occupational specialties to gain experience in areas where they may not have worked before, such as minor construction or services contracts, claims and post-award administration duties. 

“Deployments also offer our leaders with more opportunities to teach, coach and mentor their subordinates because of a higher operations tempo and longer duty hours,” Harger added. “Our Soldiers will get to draw from the vast experience and knowledge of our civilian workforce because we will be working side by side with both Army and contracted civilian professionals.”

Deployment preparation also included instruction on rollovers, first aid, weapons and other ancillary training conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Levi, the forward operations NCO in charge, explained that the brigade was able to accomplish CONUS Replacement Center transition requirements with home station training at Camp Bullis in San Antonio as well as training facilities on Fort Sam Houston.

“We basically took the CRC training schedule and duplicated it 100 percent with resources here,” Levi said. “We were able to duplicate the CRC experience down to a T so that we could minimize the time awaiting airlift at Fort Bliss.”

Making the most of the amount of time Soldiers could spend at their home station was the end state, Zmijski said.

“I must admit, logistically, it might have been easier to go to Fort Bliss CRC for the weeklong process, but we’re going to be gone for nine months, so we want to maximize our time here with families, particularly because it’s the summer season and children are home from school,” Zmijski added. “These last days are critical to give back to people to spend with their families.”

Although this is the first deployment of the 410th CSB as a command and control element, brigade Soldiers have long supported the war and contingency efforts. Its 916th CBN redeployed home this month from supporting Operation Inherent Resolve following a June transfer of authority ceremony with the 900th CBN from MICC-Fort Bragg, N.C. 

The brigade also supported the U.S. Agency for International Development during the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

At the end of 2015, DOD officials announced Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as the follow-on mission for Operation Enduring Freedom to secure gains following 13 years of war in support of the Afghan government and its people. The operation’s two-fold mission includes continued support of Afghan security forces and counterterrorism.

Located at Fort Sam Houston, the 410th CSB is a subordinate command of the ECC at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. The brigade provides expeditionary contingency contracting support to Army South in support of Army and joint operations in the U.S. Southern Command area of operations.

Zmijski said the roughly 60-strong civilian workforce remaining behind will continue to support its contract mission following the alignment and streamlining of certain functions and processes to cover ever critical element.

“It’s important to mention that the execution arm of how we support ARSOUTH is with our civilian workforce and at the battalion and team level. It’s where the rubber meets the road since those are the folks who write the contracts,” Zmijski said.