JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Contracted Soldiers from across the U.S. Army’s Mission and Installation Contracting Command will join their Air Force counterparts for the virtual Joint Forces Contracting Exercise 2021 June 21-25.
With the Joint Forces Contracting Exercise 2021, contract teams will implement the concept of deploying the armed forces to send a joint regional contract office to provide operational contract support to a troops credible in combat in deterring aggression against US interests in key areas.
The aim of the exercise is to develop a trained and operational joint force capable of obtaining contractual support and contingent contractual effects in large-scale combat operations.
“We practice our joint interoperability with the Air Force and eventually with all of our sister services because it is important that we can work together,” said Army Col. Joel Greer, director of JFCE-21 and the 418th Contracting Support Brigade commander at Fort Hood , Texas.
“Interoperability between services is critical as the Department of Defense moves from counterinsurgency to large-scale combat operations,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Peter O’Neill, assistant trainer and director of operations for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center-Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
“To address the challenges we will face in the next conflict, we need to understand how the other service is contracting into operational planning and execution,” he said. “The more we train together, the better we are prepared for integrating the common environment.”
As part of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, AFICC is responsible for managing and executing acquisition solutions across the Air Force organization.
Lt. Col. Justin DeArmond, MICC’s assistant chief of staff for operations at the San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Joint Base, said the commanding general for Army Contracting Command directed his command and the MICC to end its joint training efforts with the Air Force through the late 2020 Use of virtual platforms.
Heads of the 418th CSB of the MICC serve as the exercise control group responsible for coordinating, resourcing, planning all facets of the exercise and overseeing its success.
“A conscious effort of planning is the foundation of any successful exercise,” said Lt. Col. Marlon Elbelau, the 418th CSB officer responsible for future operations and chief planner for JFCE-21.
“Despite the fact that all integrated project teams and planning events were virtual, the commitment and commitment of the entire team was the success of the JFCE-21 planning,” said Elbelau. “The focus allowed the team to overcome challenges as they weren’t in the same place to plan events and could make sure everyone was in sync.”
The exercise scenario encompasses the area of responsibility of the US European Command for the armed forces and the air force as part of a larger operational operation to execute theater support contracts and emergency contracts for administrative services. MICC officials said JFCE-21 is also revalidating the ability of Joint Contracting Enablers as a force multiplier to increase the readiness, interoperability, flexibility and freedom of movement of combat aircraft by leveraging commercial capabilities through contract support and emergency contract management services.
JFCE-21 serves as a continuation of the lessons learned from previous operational contract support training events and builds on previous individual and collective understanding of operational contract support capabilities. The last OCSJX in March 2018 covered all DoD services as well as the British Army. The OCSJX exercise series was then canceled for budget reasons.
Elbelau said there are a handful of staff on the JFCE-21 planning team that had previously met during the last two OCSJX training events.
“The experiences and perspectives that they brought to the planning meetings enabled us to cope with some of the problems that we had to deal with,” said Elbelau. “Joint exercises have unique challenges such as different organizational processes, network and IT access, constant joint changes to crew documents and the integration of service components and other procurement processes of the agency and their effects on the design of the event list of the master scenario.”
Unlike previous training exercises, JFCE-21 takes place in a virtual environment that offers both advantages and obstacles.
“The main benefit of a virtual exercise is the ability for us to have multiple training locations while addressing the travel challenges related to COVID-19, temporary service costs, on-site assistance and the need for larger support staff to properly receive and recruit attendees , limit ready for the exercise, “said Elbelau about the use of collaboration platforms such as video conferencing to share presentations and broadcast training and mentoring sessions. “Running JFCE-21 in a virtual environment limits logistics, administrative, IT, and travel cost requirements as the training primarily uses dispensed equipment and home station facilities to participate in the exercise.”
Disadvantages include the loss of real-time collaboration opportunities throughout training, limited networking and relationship building, and the potential for network issues that affect communication and interaction between training locations.
Major Edgar Yu, team leader for the exercise at Fort Bragg, said the skills and understanding gained through the joint contract exercise will benefit his team in upcoming operations.
“I really hope my team will be able to cohesive, educate, and be ready to provide contract support to Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras and in any current emergency environment,” said Yu.
Elbelau agrees with the future usefulness of the training, adding that the exercise also offers the opportunity to learn new concepts, tools and doctrines such as the 4-71 Army Technology Publication, the Contracting Support Brigade and the Air Force test.
The assistant director of JFCE-21 also outlined some general objectives that he believes Airmen will take away from this exercise.
“We want to introduce our fliers to the common area,” said O’Neill. “Many have little experience in dealing with other services. Now, if you understand the terminology and structure of the army, you can get started right away. Next, our Airmen conducted emergency officer training using Air Force scenarios at their home base. The introduction to new material will broaden their horizons and improve their skills.
“Eventually, our contingent officers for the joint contract departments will be able to work side-by-side with their counterparts in the Army,” said O’Neill. “They will surely cross in the future.”
JFCE-21’s training audience includes Soldiers and Airmen at Fort Hood and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Shaw AFB and JB Charleston, South Carolina; and Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. The Fort Hood exercise control group includes members from Illinois, Kansas, Washington, Maryland, Idaho, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Florida.
This team also includes representatives from the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Army Deputy Assistant Secretary for Procurement, the Air Force, the ACC and its subordinate brigades, and MICC Headquarters and its subordinate contract brigades. The aim of the team is to create a realistic, challenging operational environment that enables the assessment of learning objectives so that military departments of the army and technical experts of the air force can demonstrate their operational capability.