MICC Soldiers participate in DOD’s premier OCS exercise at Ft Bliss

By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Leonhard
OCSJX-17 Public Affairs Cell


FORT BLISS, Texas
– Nearly 450 Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and civilians are here for Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise-17 and a significant number of them are from the Army’s Mission and Installation Contracting Command.

Approximately 50 MICC personnel are participating in the exercise or providing support to ensure the exercise is successful. Most of the MICC participants will deploy within the next six months, including some who are only days away from heading downrange as contracting professionals for the first time. Other MICC Soldiers helped synchronize the assessment part of the exercise including the nearly 270 scenario injects that flowed into the week-long exercise portion of the joint exercise.

U.S. Army Capt. Richard Smith is the Trainer/Observer Integrator and he is a vital link between the assessment cell and what the participants are learning or discovering from each inject. This is his second OCSJX; in 2016 he was a trainee.

“I synchronize the information that each of the 15 TOs are witnessing in the training cells and make sure it’s ready for the assessment team to be able to see not only how well the training audience is responding to an scenario, but also where any short falls may be,” said Smith who is assigned to the 676th Contracting Team, 902nd Contracting Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington. “Because we’re not only trying to help each of the individual trainees with their own personal experiences and growth, but we’re also looking across the Army and the Air Force to see where our gaps in capabilities are and how we can possibly tailor this to improve the trainees experience next year.”

Just across the hall from Smith was one of those trainees, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stephanie Cortez, a member of this year’s Regional Contracting Element-Hotel. She was not only going through her initial OCS exercise, but she is just a few weeks from deploying as a contracting specialist for the first time. She stated, that like all Soldiers, she is adaptive and was ready to deploy and would have made it work, but now she is definitely set up for success.

“Learning the programs tools and getting hands on, really helps,” she explained. “I also have been looking over-the-shoulder of more experienced team members and watching how they do things and have asked questions. I’m very excited about using what I’ve learned.”

Cortez is stationed at the MICC-Fort Bliss contracting office and stated that on a previous deployment she performed convoy escort duties. During that deployment, she was moving a lot of the equipment and supplies to the units that needed them. On her return trip to Southwest Asia, she will be a contracting specialist who plans, procures and manages the acquisition of equipment and supplies.

“Now I really know that it’s more than just someone handing me a requirement saying we need this,” she said. “Now it’s understanding that there is a bigger picture to why the warfighter needs that request filled.”

Lt. Col. Jarrett Moffitt, the commander of the 919th Contracting Battalion, concurred with Cortez’s statement, saying that the opportunity for participants to learn more about the effects on the battle field is a big take away from the exercise.

“This is a great opportunity for our young Soldiers to learn about operationalizing contracting and getting into the nuts and bolts of contract writing to ensure we’re providing the effects the customer (warfighter) needs on the battlefield,” stated Moffitt who had the role of chief of the Regional Contracting Element-Alpha for OCSJX-17. “In our cell, we’re taking it a step further and we’ve talked about second and third order battlefield effects and what it actually means after we write the contract.”

Moffitt explained his cell then considered what additional requirements may come out of that core requirement or what additional requirements they may need to ensure contract success in the future.

He believes that because of the nature of their profession, there is a struggle and challenge among some contracting professionals to see the full effects of their work. Having been a Regional Contracting Center Chief in Iraq, he stated all the scenarios they’ve seen this week are very realistic.

“All these scenarios have been written by someone who has lived this pain before and has figured out how to do it or solved that particular problem,” he said.

All three of these MICC professionals support the warfighter by acquiring equipment, supplies and services vital to the Army mission and well-being of Soldiers. Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the MICC is a one-star command made up of more than 1,500 military and civilian members assigned to three contracting support brigades, one field directorate office and 31 contracting offices that provide contracting support across the Army.

Over the past two fiscal years the command has executed more than 68,000 contract actions valued at nearly $10 billion across the Army, which includes $4.35 billion to American small businesses. The command also managed nearly a million individual Government Purchase Card program transactions amounting to approximately $1.5 billion.

OCSJX-17 training scenarios focus on warfighter support

By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Leonhard
OCSJX-17 Public Affairs Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas – After four days of academics, approximately 230 members of the training audience at Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise-17 are now testing their skills and knowledge as they are bombarded with more than

270 scenarios over an eight-day period.

Twelve teams made up of contracting and finance personnel along with Joint Requirements Activity Cell members have entered the second phase of the two-week exercise. OCSJX-17 is the Department of Defense’s premier operational contract support exercise and is designed to train individuals from the logistics, personnel, finance, legal, and contracting career fields.

According to Lt. Col. Cal Hodgson, the director of Joint Exercise Control Group, the scenarios the trainees are working through are based on real-world experiences.

“The scenarios are straight from the theater or something we know we need to work on,” said Hodgson, deputy director of contracting at Air Force District of Washington Contracting Directorate, Andrews AFB, Maryland. “They are designed to make the training audience understand they are a strategic instrument and that their actions are ultimately on behalf of a Sailor, Airman, Solider or Marine in the field.”

“We want the trainees to link what they are doing to higher level strategic objectives. To know what they are doing and how it supports the warfighter,” stated Hodgson, who was one of those trainees just a couple years ago.

He explained that the JECG will look at how each cell reacts and responds to each inject and how they solve it as a team.

“Cell observers have what they feel is the expected action, and they watch to see if the team meets that expected action or not,” said Hodgson. “Sometimes a team won’t meet the expected action, but the answer is still right because they thought of something we didn’t think of and that is still a good answer, so as long as we can look at it and determine they are still providing the appropriate support to the warfighter.”

Hodgson said that some of the scenarios are used to have the trainees think about the impact on a local economy. The control group incorporates these because when thousands of forces arrive in an area of operations there is also an influx of money.  That money then creates potential competitions for resources.  Because as Hodgson explained, a warfighter is going to need some of these resources, say such as water, but if an organization doesn’t carefully manage where their getting the resource, it could have a negative impact on the local population.

In this, the eighth iteration of OCSJX, scenarios to support special operations forces have been added.

“Supporting our SOF is an identified real-world weakness,” claimed Hodgson. “A SOF unit does not always communicate where they are and where they are going by the nature of their business. They will show up at a supporting installation and say they need help and often these installation say ‘tough,’ and that’s the wrong answer.  So we have SOCOM planners here to specifically help us understand our role in supporting them.”

Adding a new element, like supporting SOF, is part of the ever evolving nature of the exercise. One of the changes over the years hasn’t been about adding new scenarios.

“The biggest change of the last few years is the complexity of the exercise,” said Master Sgt. Noah Branscom, the JECG Noncommissioned Officer in Charge. “This [OCSJX] evolved out of a contracting exercise and now they’ve brought in the joint staff, plus took the approach of joint operations and getting into the OCS environment versus just contracting,”

In his fourth year of participation, Branscom a contracting officer at Buckley AFB, Colorado, with the Colorado Air National Guard, stated that there isn’t an issue executing contracts, that instead it’s developing requirements and maintaining contracts that needs to be improve.

“There was deliberate effort to focus on cross communication and involve the different functions,” said Branscom. “Participants are no longer exercising in just their specific area of expertise, they are now involving finance and requirement folks.  This helps trainees to get more of a broader picture and work the whole process versus each function doing their specific job and not even consider what’s happening around them.”

Besides increasing the complexity of the exercise, Branscom stated there’s been a push to increase the credibility of the exercise as well.

“We make an effort to get the right people for the right position,” he explained. “We’ve learned that even the functions such as a role player need to have the knowledge and capability to understand the scenario or the entire inject loses its credibility.”

“The trainees can pick up on that very quickly and then there’s a loss of benefit,” continued Branscom. “So a year’s worth of preparation could go down the drain if you don’t have the right individual bringing the message to the training audience.”

The foot stomping message that both Hodgson and Branscom echoed was that this exercise and the scenarios within it are to get participants to look beyond their specific task and look at the strategic view.  They want a trainee to understand how their tactical role feeds into a bigger operation and what each participant is doing to support the warfighter.

As concluded by Hodgson, “It’s not about completing a transactional endeavor or signing the contract to buy ‘the thing,’ it’s about knowing they are supporting the warfighter.”

OCSJX-17 kicks into full swing at Fort Bliss

By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Leonhard, OCSJX-17 Public Affairs Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas – Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise – 2017 kicked off here March 15. OCSJX is the Department of Defense’s premier operational contract support exercise.

Nearly 450 service members and civilians from across the DOD and allied nations will participate in OCSJX-17.  The participants will test their skills and hone their abilities in tactical- and strategic-level scenarios focusing on total force integration for contingency readiness, and improve their OCS capabilities.

OCSJX-17 is designed to train individuals from the logistics, personnel, finance, legal, and contracting career fields.  According to OCSJX leaders, participants will come away with expertise to improve strategic and operational relationships.

“We’re teaching participants how to plan for, understand and think ahead for the second and third order effects,” said Col. Brian Ucciardi, Director of Contracting Operating Location Pacific for the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii, and this year’s lead director of OCSJX-17.  Ucciardi, stressed the importance of planning, “If you don’t get it right during the planning phase, it [a contract] will never execute correctly and create the effects a battlefield commander is requiring.”

Ucciardi stated that there is a lot of money spent in the battlefield that has the right intentions, but may produce the wrong results and this exercise is designed to provide the participants with practical training across the full spectrum of OCS to help make sure that does not happen.

Col. Lynda Armer, the 418th Contracting Brigade Commander at Ft. Hood, Texas, and the co-director of OSCJX-17 echoed Ucciardi’s statements about the significance of planning early.

“OCSJX is not about writing contracts it’s about the planning that goes on before contracts are written. This exercise provides participants the opportunity to understand why planning and recognizing any gaps is vital.  This way the gaps can be planned for to better ensure the contract is awarded and meets the required effects.”

This year, the eighth iteration of the exercise, it consists of two phases. Participants begin with a week dedicated to academics followed by a week of OCS-scenario execution. During the second phase the participants have an opportunity to test their new knowledge and apply the lessons-learned. The director for logistics, Joint Staff J4, is funding the exercise.

OCSJX-17 is based on a U.S. Pacific Command scenario with multinational, interagency and vendor participants.  It provides an excellent level of instruction incorporating the most recent OCS doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures. OCSJX-17 provides OCS practical training to prepare the participants for planned or potential deployments.

“This exercise allows warfighters to work with their contactor support personnel,” said Capt. John Purcell, OCSJX-17 Operations Cell Lead, who is here for his second OCSJX. A procurement analyst from Air Force Installation Contracting Agency at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Purcell believes participants are better prepared to help achieve a commander’s objectives after working together in an exercise,

“More than ever, in current conflicts we rely heavily on contractors to do historically military positions,” stated Purcell, “And we should never underestimate what could happen, because no matter what amount of planning is done, the inevitable will happen.”

OCSJX-17 brings together service members and civilians from all branches of the DOD and across the total force spectrum, as well as coalition partner nations and agencies from outside the DOD. This year national forces from the United Kingdom will be participating in the exercise. To date, operational contract support joint exercises have trained more than 3,000 participants from the Office Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, services, support agencies, multi-national and interagency stakeholders.

According to Joint Publication 4-10, OCS is the process of planning for and obtaining supplies, services, and construction from commercial sources in support of joint operations. OCS is essential for maximizing the effects of the resources spent in support of operations.

 

Top 10 photos of OCSJX-16

Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 provides training across the spectrum of OCS readiness from requirements and development of warfighter staff integration and synchronization through contract execution supporting the joint force commander.See some of the top photos taken by our photographers!

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DLA provides IT Capabilities to OCS

From the inaugural exercise- Operation Bold Impact at Fort Riley, Kan., to the current Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016, OCS information technology capabilities are vital in measuring the success of OCS training, execution, and readiness. This year’s exercise leveraged Contingency Acquisition Support Model(cASM). The cASM has processed over 49 requirements packages totaling over $1.3 million, as well over 85 orders totaling $1.2 million were processed using the 3-in-1 handheld device (Automated SF44), and vetted eight Host Nation vendors through the Joint Contingency Contracting System (JCCS). Warfighter operational requirements can be forecasted by having proven data sources. By providing exercise participants with real-time training support, customer support and service activities, and overall exercise sustainment, Defense Logistics Agency-contracted support resources have a proven track record that contractor support is invaluable during peacetime, wartime, and humanitarian exercises and missions supporting the Department of Defense.

OCSJX-16 trains for the fight against human trafficking

By Staff Sgt. Michelle Patten
Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 PAO Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas- Would you recognize the signs of human trafficking if they were in front of you? Service members and civilians in the operational contract support field are on the front lines combating trafficking in persons every day and must be able to detect this sometimes subtle form of modern day slavery.

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. An estimated 20.9 million people are victimized worldwide, according to the Department of Defense’s Strategic Plan for Combating Trafficking in Persons.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, spoke about the DOD’s focus on fighting human trafficking in 2016’s annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

“The Department is totally committed to combating trafficking, and the place in which we encounter it most frequently is through overseas contracting,” Kendall said. “It’s often labor-related contracting, but many cases involve prostitution as well.”

Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016, OCSJX-16, provides a valuable training venue on combating trafficking in persons for those working with contractors.

Col. Joshua Burris, deputy chief of staff for Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Sam Houston, Texas, and the executive director for DOD’s OCSJX-16, spoke about why combating trafficking in persons, CTIP, is incorporated into the exercise.

“OCSJX and the DOD’s efforts to combat trafficking are very important,” Burris said. “We understand this tarnishes the image of America and it affects our relationships with other countries.”

While deployments have declined, it is even more important to keep OCS skillsets including identification and handling of CTIP violations sharp through the annual OCSJX.

“Providing CTIP training makes OCS professionals aware that CTIP violations do happen,” said Jillian Kennedy, a part of the exercise scenario development team and a 325th Contracting Squadron infrastructure team lead at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. “The training also shows how we recognize violations, how we address them and how we fix them.”

Linda Dixon, Defense Human Resource Activity CTIP program manager, discussed the current common types of CTIP violations that are seen in the area of operations with exercise participants. These violations include poor living conditions for workers and recruiters who charge exorbitant fees to place workers in jobs.

“The main thing is you need to know who you’re doing business with,” Dixon said. “Do they understand the labor laws in the area where you’re going to be performing? Do they understand what the policies are for the U.S. government? As far as our CTIP zero tolerance policy?”

In addition to the presentation by Dixon, the exercise participants received classroom instruction on CTIP. As part of the exercise scenario, participants were given simulated CTIP violations and had to properly respond to the situation in order to stop the human rights violations. The exercise’s white cell developed the simulations based on the team’s various experiences with the types of CTIP violations they have seen in the real world, Kennedy said.
OCSJX-16 is a three-week long exercise that brings together over 500 Service members and civilians across the Services and other agencies that are involved in the OCS process. The exercise focuses on supporting the warfighter and uses a U.S. Southern Command scenario of defending the Panama Canal and providing humanitarian assistance.

The DOD announced there were 52 reported CTIP violations last year.

If you suspect an incident of human trafficking report it to the DOD Inspector General hotline at 1-800-424-9098 or http://www.dodig.mil/hotline. Or you may contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

OCSJX evolves to include warfighter presence, partner nations

By Daniel P. Elkins
Operational Contract Support 2016 Public Affairs Cell

A significant warfighter presence and the integration of partner nations marks a strategic evolution in DOD’s premier joint operational contract support exercise intended for developing integrated planning products, training the workforce and increasing senior leader awareness.

Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016, which got underway March 21 and concludes April 8, prepares uniformed and civilian operational contract support professionals to deploy and support a variety of contingency, humanitarian and operational missions. The exercise provides participants training on joint skills and warrior tasks that include contracting operations and contract planning, execution and administration.

For the first time, exercise planners have integrated the U.S. Army South and 1st Armored Division to train with contracting, financial management and judge advocate participants. While having supported the joint exercise in previous years, financial management and judge advocate members are taking a hands-on role this year. Finance support during joint operations ensures banking and currency support while judge advocates provide operational, contract and fiscal law advice as it pertains to contractors authorized to accompany the force.

The addition of the warfighter land components not only enhances training and readiness for Army South, 1st AD and their sustainment units but also adds a realistic interface for contracting officers. The warfighters make up an operational contract support integration cell, or OCSIC, responsible for coordinating and integrating OCS actions across all primary and special staffs for an operational area. In addition to providing steady-state functions, it provides oversight to existing subordinate OCSIC cells.

“It’s very important that we understand how contractors augment our force and what a big part they are,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David DeMartelaere, 1st Armored Division air and missile defense chief. “Contractor management helps us gain that advantage to where we can effectively manage who’s on the ground and augment our force properly for a successful mission.”

OCSJX-16 integrates planning and key processes for contract support integration, contracting support and contractor management. It includes a focus on OCS readiness for those deploying in support of combatant commanders. This year, OCSJX-16 is using a U.S. Southern Command scenario in defense of the Panama Canal to support training and assessment of operational contract support capabilities against a variety of exercise events that were developed during workshops over the past several months.

Harry Hallock, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement. He is responsible for managing the Army’s procurement mission including development and dissemination of policies, processes and contracting business systems. He agrees that the addition of the warfighter this year enhances the exercise and is critical in their understanding of the importance of “doing the job up front” when generating requirements.

“As we realize how much power this exercise has, we bring in those who are impacted, the warfighter,” Hallock said. “There’s no way it could be anything other than a great addition to what we’re already doing, to try and understand each other better and support the warfighter when it comes to the contracting mission.”

Reinforcing the interoperability training aspect of the exercise is the addition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Forces Command. The UK’s Joint Forces Command provides foundational support for operations by ensuring joint capabilities to include training are developed and managed as part of its support of overseas defense operations. JFC members help make up the contractor capability coordinator cell at the exercise to train on contracted support concepts as well as assess the interoperability of OCS with those of the U.S. OCS integration cell.

Royal Navy Cmdr. Julian Titmuss is a lead exercise planner for OCSJX-16 and is responsible for the design and delivery of policy for assured contractor support to operations.

“The greatest takeaway we have from this exercise in particular are the similarities and issues that exist between U.K. and the U.S. Effectively, the U.S. is probably our closest partner and has been for many, many years,” Titmuss said. “Where the U.S. goes, we may find ourselves going, and so it helps if we’re able to integrate and operate together effectively and efficiently and understand, notwithstanding different government controls, that we’re able to work together.”

He added that UK doctrine entails a requirement to use contractors effectively as an integral partner in routine business, necessitating their inclusion into the force generation process. Titmuss said this requirement calls for an understanding that OCS extends beyond the logisticians or contracting community.

“It’s absolutely a commander’s business, because this is about capability. Therefore it’s put into our doctrine. Some of the concepts we draw from your use of OCS are very useful, and we’re building that into our own concept of employment for a contract capability coordinator,” he said.

Also, multinational partners from Brazil and Chile are exploring OCS concepts during the exercise as observers to develop an understanding and gauge possible application for improved interoperability.

This is the third iteration of the joint functional exercise. It has evolved from a multi-service annual exercise preparing contingency contracting officers for deployment into a joint, interagency and multinational exercise incorporating acquisition and support personnel.

Sponsored by the Director for Logistics, Joint Staff J-4, OCSJX-16 exercises the full spectrum of contract support from operational through tactical levels. J-4 works across numerous logistics organizations including the DOD, combatant commands and multinational and interagency partners to integrate logistics planning and execution in support of joint operations. More than 500 joint, interagency and multinational participants are taking part in the DOD-funded exercise.