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

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

– 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-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.

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.