JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Contracting Soldiers from the 902nd Contracting Battalion are supporting operations between U.S. and Philippine military forces as part of Exercise Balikatan '19.
The annual bilateral training exercise fosters operational planning between the two nations in response to contingencies, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations and counterterrorism efforts.
Initial planning for contract support began in August 2018 by the 413th Contracting Support Brigade from Hawaii but was later handed off to the Mission and Installation Contracting Command's 902nd Contracting Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Contracting Soldiers continued coordination with U.S. Army Pacific and Pacific Pathways Task Force formations to review mission requirements. Battalion members also conducted a teleconference with the 3rd Marine Logistics Group Contracting Team from Okinawa, Japan, which will provide oversight.
In December, Staff Sgt. Marisol Sherer, a contract specialist with the 902nd CBN's 676th Contracting Team, attended a mission planning conference at Manila, Philippines.
"I was able to provide general guidance and assist units in the basic understanding of roles and responsibilities regarding the contracting process," said Sherer, who during a five-day period met with customers to conduct multiple surveys at Subic Bay, Camp O' Donnell, Fort Magsaysay, Camp Laur and Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base. "One of the main objectives of this exercise is to understand how U.S. Army units prepare for combat operations while learning how the Philippine army prepares for combat operations, which benefits both armies."
Sherer believes the opportunity to support the exercise will build upon her operational contracting skills and prove beneficial during future deployments.
"It was a great learning experience to be part of this mission planning conference. As a non-commissioned officer I was exposed to a contracting planning phase that is usually reserved for the officer team lead; therefore this learning opportunity will serve me for any future operations as a 51 Charlie," the contract specialist said. "Additionally, I was able to work with exercise planners in helping them standardize performance work statements in a consistent format and organization. The little things can go a long way."
Support for the exercise now falls on members of the battalion's 675th CT. Led my Maj. Tom Givens, the team plans to return to the Philippines at the end of January where it will provide contracting support for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division at JBLM as well as the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii.
Contracts administered by the team include many of the life support services necessary to conduct operations. Those include contracts for generators, catering services, lights, transportation, tents, showers, washing stations and latrines. Following refinement of contract requirements packages, Sherer anticipates the battalion to begin requesting quotations this month followed shortly thereafter by contract awards. Initial estimates for contract support is valued at an estimated $2.5 million.
About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.