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News > ESG Contracting Reachback Cell provides valuable training and fewer deployments
ESG CENTCOM – Joint Theater Support Contracting Command and Army Contracting Command
These contracting career field Airmen recently completed the first training class at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., of an innovative joint CONUS-based project between the Air Force Enterprise Sourcing Group, CENTCOM – Joint Theater Support Contracting Command and Army Contracting Command – Rock Island. Left to right: Airman 1st Class Jacob C. Henningsgaard, 771 ESS/EGA, Airman 1st Class Keisha N. Robinson, 771 ESS/EGB; Staff Sgt. Justin P. Keeney, 771 ESS/EGB; Airman 1st Class Christopher J. Rudolf, 771 ESS/EGC.
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ESG Contracting Reachback Cell provides valuable training and fewer deployments

Posted 2/8/2012   Updated 2/8/2012 Email story   Print story


by Travis Gerritsen

2/8/2012 -  WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- Purchasing the billions of dollars worth of items needed by warfighters is a big job often reserved for seasoned contracting professionals in theatre. Recently, first term Airmen in the contracting career field have proven their business skills through an innovative joint CONUS-based venture between the Air Force Enterprise Sourcing Group, CENTCOM - Joint Theater Support Contracting Command and Army Contracting Command - Rock Island. This venture was formally kicked-off when airmen arrived at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. in July 2011 from the ESG.

The ACC-RI Contracting Reachback Mission, located at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., is responsible for providing contracting support to war efforts from its CONUS-based location.

"Since the ESG is responsible for the Air Force's overall strategic sourcing initiative, there is little to no tactical workload to provide junior airmen with the on-the-job training necessary for the contracting AFSC," said Maj. Fred Lacey, Deputy Non-Complex Reachback Branch. "We saw the work of the ACC-RI Contracting Reachback Mission as a perfect opportunity to give our airmen the necessary training and experience while directly aiding the warfighter mission."

The ESG's first team of six Airmen, consisting of one Contracting Officer/Trainer and five first-term Contracting Airmen/Trainees, have completed their 4-month "deployment" receiving OJT training and utilizing requirements supporting the warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The ESG Airmen, who represent about one-third of the Non-Complex Reachback Mission manpower and about one-third of the total buying actions, support the Non-Complex Reachback Branch at ACC-RI. This branch is designated to purchase commodities from U.S.-based vendors and existing GSA contractors. For fiscal year 2011(FY11), the Non-Complex Reachback Branch supported over $80 million worth of purchases making it the fourth-largest buying office when compared to its counterpart office in theater.

"It's important to note that every Airmen and Soldier assigned to ACC-RI directly correlates to one less mission support asset - in this case contracting professional - required in theater," said Major Lacey.

He believes the ACC-RI Reachback Mission is very similar to an overseas deployed environment with long working hours, including weekends and holidays. Additionally, the Airmen gain firsthand experience of the workload they could be supporting once they deploy.

"These extremely intelligent Airmen have been given the firehouse treatment, loading them up with an incredible amount of workload," said Lacey." It amazes me how quickly they have picked up these requirements throughout all of Afghanistan and Iraq, supported the warfighter, almost as if they were seasoned professionals. They have been a true force multiplier and it is through their efforts, we have supported so much."

The Airmen on the first team have certainly valued the experience. "There is no better way to be trained than to have a direct impact of assisting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Airman 1st Class Mikinee Moses. "There is a direct correlation with the work I do daily and the support provided to the troops and their mission. For this I have come to respect and understand the position I hold as a contracting specialist and I see the significance of building well-constructed contracts and being an effective administrator. The work I do today affects tomorrow as well as the work done by those who will fill my position when I leave."

The experience has also made an impact on Airman 1st Class Keisha Robinson.

"Knowing that my hard work and long days provide the warfighter the drink of water, the hospital, or the vital machinery needed to provide care, reiterates how important our jobs are as contracting specialists," said Robinson, "it gives me great pleasure to be able to support our country in such a way.

According to Mr. Robert Shofner, Enterprise Sourcing Group Director, the Air Force ESG intends to continue providing support to the Reachback cell as long as there are warfighters in Operation Enduring Freedom and other operations requiring Reachback support.

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