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.