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.

 

OCSJX-16 kicks off at Fort Bliss

By Staff Sgt. Michelle Patten

OCSJX-16 Public Affairs Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas – More than 500 service members and civilians from across the Department of Defense and allied nations arrived March 21 at Fort Bliss, Texas, to participate in Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016.

The Director for Logistics, Joint Staff J4, sponsors the three-week exercise to train operational contracting personnel and to improve strategic and operational relationships.

OCSJX-16 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 marks the first year that an allied country, the United Kingdom, will be actively participating in the exercise to test contracting coordination capabilities. Other partner nations, including Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Panama and Peru, will serve as guest observers to learn about OCS.

The exercise is conducted in three phases. Participants begin with warrior task training, which builds teamwork and valuable deployment readiness skills. Next, more than 225 trainees transition to a week dedicated to academics. Finally, the trainees will test their knowledge in a week set aside for OCS scenario execution.

“The purpose of OCSJX-16 is to help the warfighter better understand the significance of OCS and the establishment of an operational contract support integration cell and their operational footprint,” said Army Lt. Col. Robert Mathews, OCSJX-16 officer in charge.

“I’m most looking forward to academics week because I recently reclassed into this MOS [military occupational specialty] and I want to get to know more about it so I can be a stronger part of the team,” said Army Spc. Garrett Small, a member of the OCSJX-16 finance cell. Small is assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Beginning in 2010, the OCS community gathered for an annual joint exercise to sharpen skills from the tactical to the strategic level and share lessons learned. OCSJX-16 integrates planning and processes for contract support integration, contracting support and contractor management.

Another change for this year’s exercise is the integration of finance and judge advocate participants into the training program. In addition, the exercise incorporates a major maneuver warfare command. The 1st Armored Division and the 1st AD Sustainment Brigade will increase the level of realism in the exercise and boost their members’ logistical training. With the scenario of this year’s exercise designed to defend the Panama Canal while providing humanitarian assistance to the region, members of Army South are key players in OCSJX-16.

According to Army Lt. Col. Mike Conroy, OCSJX-16 joint exercise control group officer in charge, extensive preparations for this year’s exercise began last June including development of the scenarios to test OCS capabilities.

Operational Contract Support is the process of planning for and obtaining supplies, services, and construction from commercial sources in support of joint operations, according to Joint Publication 4-10.

Multi-national partners integrate with U.S. joint forces at OCSJX-15

By Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes

OCSJX-15 Public Affairs cell

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – U.S. forces and civilians integrated with service members from three multi-national partnering nations are here to participate in Part B of the largest contract support exercise to date, Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2015.

While multi-national partners have participated in OCSJX before, this year was the first time service members from the U.K., Canada and Australia were fully integrated into the planning and execution of the exercise.

OCS encompasses the planning, execution and oversight of government contracts for goods or services in support of military operations. The multi-national partners practice OCS, however often refer to it as Contract Support on Operations (CSO).

“CSO is important because contractors and contracts will be a factor of every kind of operation that we conduct in the future,” said British Army Brig. Jon Brittain from the Joint Forces Command for the U.K. “I think this has been recognized by senior leaders and now it’s the responsibility of those involved to make sure that we properly integrate, and use skills to have sensible contracts. It is also important we understand the implications of those contracts, both on the country that particular operation is taking place, and how we conduct our own activities with the capabilities and forces that we have. It is a fundamental part of how we will conduct warfare.”

Brittain said the lessons multi-national partners were learning at OCSJX-15 are fundamental to their own force development work, and they welcome the opportunity to shape contract integration and contract management.

“The multi-national partners have a very important role in OCS, which is why it is crucial they are participants in the exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Louis Orndorff, OCSJX-15 officer in charge and Air Force District of Washington Headquarters deputy director of contracting. “They have an opportunity to use OCSJX-15 as a coalition platform to see the ways we are solving problems, and bring their own problems to the table.”

During this exercise the multi-national partners are playing two roles, Orndorff added. They are on the staff at the Combined Task Force level, performing the OCS role they would in a contingency operation. They are also acting as observer trainers for the exercise scenario to see how certain situations would play out among their own team who imbedded with U.S. Forces.

British Army Lt. Col. Ian Hurley, 2 Operational Support Group commander with the 104 Logistic Support Brigade in South Cerney, U.K, said they are very glad to be included in OCSJX-15 and it is a very beneficial experience.

“Every country has to reduce spending on defense, and therefore CSO becomes more important as time moves on,” he said. “We will not be able to conduct our operations without CSO, and the second and third-order effects of CSO can be used as a non kinetic tool.”

Hurley added that there were three takeaways from OCSJX-15. The first was taking part in the academics phase and learning how the Americans execute OCS while sharing best practices. The second takeaway was the scenario execution, being part of the CTF OCS integration cell and learning interoperability. The third was the chance to meet people conducting the same business in different armed forces they can exchange ideas and thoughts with.

“We are inevitably going to work together and deploy to a theater together, so we need to understand how each nation does CSO or OCS, and have it as integrated as it can be,” Hurley said.

Orndorff agreed it was beneficial to integrate OCSJX-15 and learn about OCS together.

“When we go to war, we don’t go by ourselves anymore, we go with our coalition partners, and that is why it is so important for them to be integrated in how we do business,” Orndorff said. “The more we are on the same page when we are in the battle space and using resources and OCS, the better. We want to make sure we are thinking together about how to solve some of the hard problems. As OCS is about effects, it’s not just the effects of U.S. forces on the battle field; it is also about the effects of our coalition partners with us on the battle field.”

Not just contracting: JREC represents commander, operator in full-circle OCS

By Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
OCSJX-15 Public Affairs Cell

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – Truly successful Operational Contract Support is not just about contracting; its real power lies in the second and third-order effects of decisions made during all phases of operations.

Joint and combined exercises, like Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2015 underway here, have begun highlighting cross-functional talk during all stages of OCS and have implemented exercise elements like the Joint Requirements Effects Cell, or JREC, to keep integration at the forefront. This is the sixth year of OCSJX, but the first in which a JREC has been incorporated.

Operational Contract Support is the process of planning for and obtaining supplies, services and construction through commercial sources for joint operations, but the impact of OCS can be much greater than just supplies and services. Proper OCS can be navigated so that battlefield effects further commanders’ intent.

Doctrine governing OCS, Joint Publication 4-10, breaks the OCS life-cycle into three functional areas: contract support integration, contracting support, and contractor management. Leadership at the Joint Staff have recognized the need for a culture change in the DoD community, in which all involved embrace integration at the earliest stages of planning and throughout the entirety of OCS, to include oversight and management after the contract is implemented.

The OCSJX-15 JREC is made up of all services and various specialties, all non-contracting personnel. The JREC mission is to simulate the requirements generation that the components and downrange units would be creating for the acquisition force to execute.

U.S. Air Force Col. Curt Wilken, who works as a logistics planner for Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, is the Officer-in-Charge of the OCSJX-15 JREC training team. Wilken said the value of the JREC is unique. It’s made up of non-contracting personnel and they are the ones who need to be educated on OCS, in order to spread the word to their services when they return home.

“The JREC represents what the commander’s forces look like on the ground,” Wilken said. “We also represent the operator, so we are plugged into what requirements are really needed to complete the mission.”

If OCSJX is to be more than a “contracting exercise,” the JREC is what will make that so, Wilken said.

According to Wilken, inside of OCSJX-15, the JREC works directly with the Regional Contracting Centers to clearly define requirements needed to complete the mission for the Joint Force Commander. The JREC is also charged with conducting oversight of contractors and services in order to ensure proper OCS effects on the battlefield. The training team works with Contracting Officer Representatives, from non-contracting functions, on the JREC to spark dialogue about OCS and encourage everyone, from the tactical to strategic level, to incorporate it into every decision they make.

“The contracting specialists are in the RCCs. The JREC is everything but contracting,” Wilken continued. “We are there to help at the beginning and the end. We help define each requirement and also manage the sustainment of those contracts, to include the contractors and the services they provide.”

U.S. Army Capt. Jonathan Ward, OCSJX-15 JREC Deputy OIC, brings a wealth of knowledge to the team from his infantry and logistics background, alongside his daily job as the Deputy of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command OCS Branch. He explained that the teamwork between acquisition and non-acquisition players within the JREC is vital to the success of the training mission.

“The contracting specialists can’t do contracting if they don’t clearly understand what is needed. The ground forces may not get what they need, if they can’t clearly define their requirements,” Ward said. “It’s vital to both sides, because without the coordination, they may go in different directions. The JREC can bring that coordination to the process.”

Ward compared the OCS culture change to seatbelts. There was a time when not all cars had seatbelts. Even after experience proved seatbelts were valuable and they were put into all cars, not everyone saw the importance of them until they were told how it affects them personally. The culture change didn’t come from just putting the seatbelts in the car, it came after people were told how seatbelts can keep them safe.

“Joint Publication 4-10 was released last year – the seatbelts are in the car,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of telling people why. Everyone should understand why OCS is important, why they should use OCS to help reach the commander’s intent and limit fraud, waste and abuse.”

Wilken echoed Ward, saying the institution of the JREC in exercises like OCSJC-15 is a step in the right direction toward OCS culture change.

“The great thing is that we are exposing the full spectrum of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to OCS concepts and they are going to go back to their units to spread the word, planting the seed of OCS,” Wilken said. “This exercise spreads familiarity with OCS and it’s valuable because they will deploy, they will plan and now OCS will be a part of their consideration.”

Participants of OCSJX-15 will use OCS concepts during the Scenario Execution phase of the exercise, which ends April 11, but the true goal of OCSJX-15 is that the principles learned will stick and be incorporated in the future.

Consideration of economic, social environment ensures proper OCS

By Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
OCSJX-15 Public Affairs Cell

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – In times of conflict, socioeconomic vulnerabilities can be magnified.

For Operational Contract Support professionals, recognizing trends and understanding the economic climate, within a region of operation, is essential to ensure tactical-level OCS decisions have positive strategic-level effects.

Operational Contract Support is the process of planning for and obtaining supplies, services and construction through commercial sources for joint operations. OCS goes beyond supplies and services, it provides economic and battlefield effects for the commander. In other words, commanders need to plan for OCS in all phases of a campaign. Failure to do so may have significant unintended consequences and can adversely impact the mission.

During Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2015 here, members of the OCS community gathered to train, network and collaborate on all aspects of OCS, one of which is the study of the economic environment in which they may operate.

The exercise scenario for OCSJX-15 is set in the Asia-Pacific region, but each year the geographical Area of Responsibility changes, as does the mission. Framing the scenario inside a specific geographical area allows participants to train on real-world issues, circumstances and settings.

“I want to add an economic dimension to the exercise, for everyone to consider,” said Dr. Miemie Winn Byrd, Associate Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Dr. Byrd was asked to speak to OCSJX-15 participants on economic trends and factors that can impact the security environment in the Asia Pacific region.

Dr. Byrd explained that economic growth in the region over the last 30 years has led to income inequality, which can pose a security risk in the face of war or instability.

“Income inequality can create a vulnerable environment. As OCS professionals, you have to consider that and if you don’t, we will be blindsided and there will be unintended consequences,” Dr. Byrd said.

Although a society’s vulnerabilities may not necessarily equal instability, the opposite is true – every nation that has instability has socio-political or economic vulnerabilities, according to Dr. Byrd, and being aware of a nation’s vulnerabilities is essential to OCS success.

“Imagine the rising income inequality as a pile of dry leaves. Something may come along to spark the pile and start a fire,” she said. “The income inequality, like the dry leaves, makes the population very vulnerable, and your actions can be like a match, sparking the fire.”

Operational Contract Support can be that spark, igniting fires in societies with positive or negative effects.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Chris Hearl, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, spoke alongside Byrd, providing real-world examples of effects-based OCS. One example of a negative effect tied to OCS was from Djibouti, Africa.

According to Hearl, a contracting officer on the ground in Djibouti re-negotiated a contract for base operation support services. The re-negotiation effort saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought about efficiencies in the performance of the contract, but the result was a workforce reduction, causing close to 500 local Djiboutian to lose their jobs. The remaining workers, upset about the cuts, staged daily protests outside of the gate. Although the private contractor made the decision to cut their workforce, the perception was that the U.S. Government had treated the local population unfairly. Furthermore, senior Djiboutian government leadership reached out to the White House with their concerns; expressing outrage at the results the decision had on their economic stability.

Although the decision ultimately saved the government money in the short term, the result was significant tension to U.S. and Djiboutian relations. This strain on relations resulted in the government of Djibouti renegotiating other international agreements, essentially costing the U.S. government approximately $20 million annually for the U.S. military to access local sea ports.

“This represents a positive tactical decision, where the engineer and contracting officer got together and saved some money, as they were trained to do, unfortunately secondary and tertiary effects were counterproductive to our overall strategic intent,” Hearl said. “Had the engineer and contracting professionals known that the commander’s intent was to foster goodwill among the local population and bring stability to their economy, they may have deferred the chance to squeeze additional savings on the contract costs.”

The goal behind sharing OCS examples such as this is to spur a transformational culture change within the Department of Defense, inspiring everyone to think outside the box and consider all effects of OCS. Hearl said effective OCS, to include the analysis of the operating environment and the understanding of economic implications of our actions within a given battlespace, does not fall to just one functional area or one military service.

“We want everyone to understand that their job, no matter what field or functional area they are in, can have an economic impact on the battlespace,” Hearl said. “What we do every day reaches across not only military channels, but diplomatic, informational and economic channels as well.”

During OCS planning, execution, and management, effective coordination and integration, across all stakeholders is critical to success, Hearl said.

“This isn’t easy. In short, it gets everyone out of their comfort zones. This type of coordination brings challenges and concepts to people that they don’t normally think about. They assume someone else is thinking about it,” Hearl said. “With Congressional and GAO reports documenting an effective loss of between $30 and $60 billion during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we realize practically no one was thinking about it. It is critical for both acquisition and non-acquisition personnel to focus on OCS in our battlespace and doing so will return dividends to the Joint Force.”

Hearl said through comprehensive training like OCSJX-15, the OCS community at large can turn lessons observed into lessons learned.

“We want to bring the right people to the table, to integrate all of the functional areas in the planning process,” Hearl said. “Although we obviously can’t think of everything, we can, and we should, think further through our actions than we have in the past.”

OCSJX-15 participants will use what they learned from Byrd and Hearl’s briefing during the scenario execution phase of the exercise, which started April 6.