JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- —
The 628th Contracting Squadron and 628th Comptroller Squadron tested skillset, knowledge and readiness of their Airmen during a contingency contracting exercise here April 26-28.
In a deployed environment Airmen might wonder where large palettes of bottled water, lumber for constructing facilities, or the generators keeping equipment running come from. Thanks to the combined efforts of contracting and comptroller Airmen, acquiring these assets is possible. Exercises like these help ensure Airmen, who control the flow of money and procure purchases, are prepared to deliver.
“We’re using what they’re receiving in some of these power point training classes to apply in a hands-on environment,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Frazee, 628th Contracting Squadron superintendent and exercise evaluation team member. “If something happens in another country and we have to be there in a moment’s notice, this exercise trains us for such an eventuality.”
During the exercise Airmen were tested in their career field knowledge, problem solving skills, interoperability, and the ability to work under stress. The exercise focused on bare base scenarios, or starting operations from the ground up. For some, the tempo proved to be something they weren’t quite used to.
“We didn’t really know what to expect because a lot of us haven’t deployed before so we only had it in theory,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany Kempton, 628th CONS small buy team contracting officer. “We got there and it was on us to set up a workspace. We started getting requirements as if we had just showed up downrange. It was like, ‘these guys need water, what do we do?’”
The exercise provided challenges for players from both squadrons.
“The first one was getting the tempo down and getting a feel of what it was going to be like with contracting,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class James Hauck, 628th CPTS special actions technician. “Another was figuring out how to go about requesting more money. Our bank was short and we had to figure out how to make sure we didn’t over spend. We reviewed the regulations which provided helpful answers.”
Despite some obstacles the exercise team found ways through their knowledge and resources to overcome the possibility of failure.
“As soon as it was over I was like ‘alright let’s go do this for real,’” said Kempton. “It got me thinking of a lot of different things I may not see day-to-day here. I realized I can think on my feet, I do know this stuff. It was a boost to know everything I’ve been learning the past six and a half years, I’ve stored away.”
Some of the Airmen credited much of the success to the constructive working relationship between the 628th CONS and CPTS.
“There was great teamwork between the two,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Stinson, 628th CPTS financial analyst supervisor and exercise trainer. “CONS and CPTS always work together in every deployed scenario or exercise but it was nice to more or less focus on that. We’re usually together at all times but its tiny interaction. This was focused on high tempo and communication. I’m we were able to do this.”
Facilitators and participants of this year’s exercise hope training like this can continue and evolve in the future. The anticipation is that all involved will walk away more prepared for the real thing.
“I just hope they retain the knowledge,” said Stinson. “I can see all of these young Airmen staying in to the point where they’re going to deploy. It would be nice for them to be able to look back and say ‘I remember the sequence, Sergeant Stinson showed me this,’ and they have something to reference rather than going in blindly.”