What is OCS?

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

FORT BLISS, Texas- The language of the military includes acronyms that may seem like a soup of letters. Many acronyms are only understandable to Service members in specific career fields. For someone outside the military acquisition community operational contract support, OCS, may be such a term.

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.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicole Stevens is a contracting officer in a rapid acquisition cell, part of the Big Safari program, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and a participant in Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016. She provided her personal definition of OCS.

“I would explain OCS to someone outside the acquisition career field as a process of how we get the materials and supplies and services that we need to conduct our mission,” Stevens said.

Since the Revolutionary War, the United States has used contracted support in operations to some degree. With the introduction of more technologically advanced equipment, high operations tempos and manning reductions across the force, the use of contractors for contingency operations has only increased.

“Since we’ve dwindled our numbers [of Service members] on the ground the use of contracted support has increased,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Fortenberry, OCSJX-16 role player. “We still have to maintain the same mission, even with fewer [military] people.”

Fortenberry is a unit training manager and unit deployment manager with the 354th Contracting Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

With the increased prevalence of contractor operations in the military, effective OCS execution is essential to mission success.

“It’s critical to the military mission because it’s that full process from identifying the need all the way through how we fund it, then how we justify that requirement, to finding the right person to provide it to us, and putting it on contract and administering that contract,” Stevens said.

OCS is the work that goes on behind the scenes to support the warfighter.

“What we’re really trying to do is support that warfighter on the ground, whether it be beans, bullets or equipment to support that warfighting effort,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David DeMartelaere, 1st Armored Division air and missile defense chief.

The process of OCS has three functions: contract support integration, contracting support and contractor management. The process starts with contract support integration. This is the planning stage of OCS where requirements are determined.

“In contract support integration contracting will work with a functional area, who is the subject matter expert on what they need,” Fortenberry explained.

In this step, the requirements generated by the warfighters are coordinated and synchronized. Representatives from the Services, the allied nations involved and many different career fields review the requirements. From military civil affairs seeking to repair a dilapidated school to medical professionals needing lifesaving supplies, functional areas become involved in contract support integration to assist in requirements determination in order to get the supplies, services or construction they need.

“Making that contract happen doesn’t happen overnight so you have to have that planning ahead of time,” DeMartelaere said.

Next in the OCS process is contracting support. This portion is where the procurement piece occurs and contracts are written. This step is the traditional contracting activity that most often comes to mind, but even in this part of the process the contracting career field does not operate in isolation.

Fortenberry added that some of the other career fields that may be involved in contracting support include finance and legal to ensure that contracts meet all requirements in these areas.

Finally, contractor management provides the oversight, integration and support of contractors in an operational area. In this portion the contracting officer representative, COR, is responsible for monitoring contract performance. A COR can be any Service member or civilian appointed in writing and trained by a contracting officer.

“Contractor management is one of those things we have to have to execute properly to make sure there’s not fraud waste and abuse,” DeMartelaere said.

Whether the military is providing the initial response to a contingency like establishing air traffic control immediately after an earthquake or a long-term operation is in the sustainment phase, OCS is being carried out.

“The three functions are happening in all phases of military operations, though at different levels,” Fortenberry described.

While the OCS process may seem complicated at the most basic level, it is in effect to support everyone in an area of operation. OCSJX-16 allows participants to hone their OCS skills.

“I hope that they take away that every part of OCS is important,” Stevens said. “It’s not just a contracting exercise. This is an OCS exercise. It’s not just as easy as signing a contract, there are a lot of steps and processes and a lot of career fields that are involved in this. We have to work together and we have to follow the process to make sure everybody is on the same page to get what we need at the best value for the government.”

OCSJX-16 is a three-week long exercise that brings together Service members and civilians across the branches of service 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.


OCSJX-16 endurance and leadership reaction courses

Ethic foundational to OCS

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

FORT BLISS, Texas- “Actions speak more than words,” Brig. Gen. Michael Hoskin, commanding general of U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Commander, reminded the audience before an ethic training session for command teams at Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016.

To facilitate training on ethic this year, the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic’s senior enlisted advisor Sergeant Major David Stewart conducted seminars for both command teams and the general training audience at OCSJX.

“Though we may be different services we are all having the same conversations about how to do the same thing,” Stewart said.

Ethic and profession are complex and ambiguous topics that the seminars made understandable with exercises that tested social norms. While what is right and wrong may sometimes seem apparent it is important that all OCS professionals share the same values.

“Ethics is different for everyone,” said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Renie Bright, commander of the 915th Contracting Support Battalion. “Everyone has their own social norms and values so we need to understand what is expected.”

With billions of dollars and the needs of the warfighter at stake, it is vital that Service members and civilians remain focused on being good stewards for the American public.

“We are the ones who spend taxpayer dollars and so it’s very important for us to be efficient and effective in our spending and to get the most for our dollar,” Bright said.

Training on ethic was one of the first academic elements presented to OCSJX participants, as it will help prepare them for the scenario execution they will be completing later in the exercise.

“I think it’s the foundation of everything we’re going to be doing here,” Bright said. “You cannot give someone a contract warrant if you’re questioning their ability to do the right thing.”

The ethic training seminar for the general participants focused on critical thinking. This training was also geared toward all OCSJX attendees instead of being career field specific.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re contracting, finance or another job, everybody here that’s participating they’re dealing with the public’s money so you have to be ethical as a person to make sure you’re [acting] in the best interests of the government,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Shaffer, Air Force Sustainment Center contracting officer. “It doesn’t matter what your profession is.”

Stewart remarked that the training session for command teams, the current and incoming commanders and senior enlisted of units, was important to teach how they can build the identity of their members. Also, ensuring the command teams received training demonstrated their buy-in for the priority on ethic in their organizations.

“It’s important for them to understand the concepts so they can create the right culture and climate that most people actually want to have in their organizations,” Stewart said.

Even small, incremental change can make a difference in a unit according to Stewart.

“What I hope comes from both sessions is that I have given people enough to think about that three to five people will go and make a positive change on their organization, and if I’ve done that then I’ve been successful,” Stewart said. “I think that over time if that happens then we’ll start to see change across the military.”

Stewart emphasized that anyone can and should start a conversation within their units on ethic.

“This is a leader responsibility,” Stewart said. “You can have these same conversations inside your organizations no matter how small it is or how big it is. It is all of our organizations’ responsibilities to share our values and beliefs and to help people inside our organization understand our values and beliefs the way they were intended to be done.”

OCSJX-16 is a three-week joint exercise funded by the Department of Defense and sponsored by the Director for Logistics, Joint Staff J4. The exercise focuses on supporting the warfighter and uses a U.S. Southern Command scenario of defending the Panama Canal and providing humanitarian assistance.

For more information on ethic and training resources visit CAPE’s website: http://cape.army.mil/.

Joint exercise will benefit warfighters

By Ben Gonzales
Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 Public Affairs Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas– In today’s global environment, America relies on every branch of the Department of Defense to support national goals. With that philosophy, Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 combines more than 500 participants from across the DOD to train OCS personnel and improve strategic and operational relationships.

The exercise unites Service members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, as well as representatives from the United Kingdom and other partner nations to plan for and execute realistic and effective OCS outcomes.

OCSJX provides “a great opportunity to exercise and synchronize multiple staff elements,” said Army Lt. Gen. Gustave Perna, the Army deputy chief of staff, G-4. “Additionally, our partner nations’ participation in the exercise will set the foundation for enhanced cooperation, interoperability, and security throughout our area of responsibility.”

The first phase of the exercise, which began March 21, took more than 225 participants through combat skills and first aid training to prepare the trainees for deployments in any environment. The second phase, beginning March 28, takes participants through OCS academics. The third and final phase, starting April 1, commences OCS operations as participants work in teams to complete the full spectrum of OCS from requirements generation through contract execution. Teams are divided into groups that will benefit operational needs in the near future.

The exercise focus is to support the warfighter using a U.S. Southern Command scenario of defending the Panama Canal while providing humanitarian assistance.

“The joint and coalition nature of the training introduces new concepts, creates an understanding of other service and partner nation OCS doctrine, and helps develop an understanding of the importance of OCS,” said Army Col. Joshua Burris, the OCSJX-16 Army lead and co-executive director.

One of the unwritten benefits of this joint exercise is the working rapport participants build while going through the exercise.

“I don’t get to work with the Air Force or Army often, so this exercise is a great opportunity to build relationships with other services to get familiar with how they operate,” said Marine Sgt. Tyler Sullivan, a contract specialist with Regional Contracting Office Northern Capitol Region from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. “When I deploy in a joint environment, I will be familiar with how things will work.”

Another benefit of OCSJX is that exercise participants get hands-on experience that replicates the deployed environment. Kevin Weaver, an exercise participant and a contract administrator from the Defense Contract Management Agency-Orlando in Florida, is deploying later this summer to the Middle East. Weaver received word March 23 that he will be deploying.

“A lot of the overseas mission has been taken over by the Army, and a lot of DCMA deployments will be with the Army so I believe this will be a good precursor for what is coming up for me,” Weaver said. “The combat skills, first aid and buddy care training was great, but the best part of the exercise is the joint environment because we get to interact with all branches of service and DOD civilians. Going through this exercise, our team has grown together, which will be invaluable during our time here as well as later in our careers.”

The exercise benefits those who have never deployed for the acquisition community, too.

“For those like me who haven’t deployed yet, it gives me the experience before we actually go downrange,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Shafer, a contract specialist at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. “This is my first time working with a big group of joint services toward one mission. When we do deploy in the contract world it will be in the joint environment, so to get this experience now is very beneficial.”

Army Staff Sgt. Formeka Griffin, an exercise participant and a contracting specialist with the 901st Contracting Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, echoes those remarks. With just nine months in the contracting career field, this exercise gives individuals like Griffin the chance to gain acquisition and OCS knowledge from the OCS professionals from all the services.

“This exercise will really benefit me because I will be able to reach out to other contracting members with questions after the exercise, no matter if they are in the Army, Air Force or Marines,” Griffin said. “Different services in different specialties coming together to work as a team to teach and learn from each other are lessons that will benefit my career and the warfighters we serve.”

Exercise personnel will focus on a scenario incorporating operational contract support across the services and to its Central and South American partners to further interoperability. OCSJX will train service component commands and other major force headquarters that may be designated as a joint task force to better integrate OCS into operational access missions to preserve national interests or provide humanitarian or disaster relief.

OCSJX-16, sponsored by the Joint Staff J4, is a training venue that unites joint non-acquisition and acquisition professionals to plan for and execute realistic and effective OCS outcomes. The exercise training audience includes warfighters from Army South, 1st Armored Division, Air Force South and Special Operations Command South for execution of contract support integration and contractor management tasks.

OCSJX-16 runs from March 21 to April 8.

OCSJX-16 medical training

OCSJX prepares participants for worldwide deployments

By Ben Gonzales
Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 Public Affairs Cell

FORT BLISS, Texas– Gunfire and smoke are in the air. Blood oozes out of fresh wounds. Service members and civilians are tense and serious, but respond to the situations with calculated plans and purpose.

More than 225 participants of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 are learning combat and life-saving skills in realistic scenarios March 22 at Fort Bliss, Texas. This training is vital as the American military is called upon to deploy to austere and war-torn zones around the world.

The exercise trains contracting and OCS support professionals across the Department of Defense to succeed while deployed in support of any contingency operation or natural disaster. In addition to honing their contracting skills, participants learn CPR, how to move and care for casualties, proper tourniquet applications, how to provide medical care under fire, and other life-saving skills. Also, the participants learned how to move in a combat environment, how to recognize unexploded explosives, and how to exit an overturned vehicle.

“This exercise is truly targeted for skills that you need to know when you are deployed,” said Army Lt. Col. Toney Stephenson, a participant in the exercise and the 902nd Contracting Battalion commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. “The reason that it’s important is because our primary deployment job is contracting, but there are still incidents that happen and you should know how to react. This doesn’t make us infantrymen or medics, but it gives us targeted skills that we need in a deployed environment. This allows us to be part of a deployed team.”

OCSJX-16, sponsored by the Joint Staff J4, is a training venue that unites joint non-acquisition and acquisition professionals to plan for and execute realistic and effective OCS outcomes. Participants include Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and representatives from the United Kingdom, and other partner nations. The exercise uses a U.S. Southern Command scenario to defend the Panama Canal while providing humanitarian assistance.

“This training is more important to us because some of us are getting ready to deploy, but also in day-to-day life if someone has a heart attack in the office,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Kimala Cox, the 902nd CBN sergeant major and a participant in the exercise. “We are not certified medical people, but we now know what to do in case something serious happens. At the end of this exercise, I am certain that when they deploy they will be able to provide all the training that we learned here.”

Some of the training will be put to use in deployed environments very soon. Army Sgt. 1st Class Katrina Tolbert, an exercise participant and a contracting specialist with the 904th Contracting Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky, is scheduled to deploy this winter.

“All the training – combat skills, basic medical care, vehicle rollover training and [the] leadership course – will be very useful when I am deployed,” Tolbert said. “OCSJX also allows us to build relationships with contracting professionals from other services. Our goal is for us to have a better understanding of how contracting is integrated into all plans and operations, and this exercise prepares us to be able to respond to anything our nation may call us to do, anywhere.”

OCSJX-16 runs from March 21 to April 8.

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.