Expeditionary contracting officers needed to provide global logistics support

By Beth Reece

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The Defense Logistics Agency Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office needs contracting specialists to join its Expeditionary Contracting Cadre, a group of volunteers who are among the first to deploy and establish logistics support in the initial stages of disaster relief and contingency operations.

The cadre is used primarily to source the Defense Logistics Agency’s three Rapid Deployment Teams. RDTs are made up of employees from various supply chains and functions to help the agency respond faster to national and global emergencies. Two expeditionary contracting officers are assigned to each team for 12-month cycles.

Cadre members could also be asked to augment JCASO’s Mission Support Team as it provides operational contract support requested by combatant commands and joint task forces to increase the effectiveness of emerging operations.

Whether they support RDTs or the MST, cadre members remain in their current positions with the condition they may be called on to deploy with little or no notice, usually for one week to 30 days.

The demand for DLA’s expeditionary contracting expertise has steadily grown since the agency created the cadre in 2015, said Charmaine Camper, director of expeditionary contracting for DLA Logistics Operations and JCASO. Her goal is to build a team of 40 expeditionary contracting officers to meet the increasing demands and to ensure each member has sufficient time between deployments.

“Our combatant commanders and other customers realize that DLA’s expeditionary contracting officers bring many capabilities to the fight, and they’re relying on our support more and more,” Camper said.

Military officials participating in disaster relief following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, for example, depended on DLA to help fill urgent needs for supplies and services. Seven cadre members deployed to various locations to perform duties like market research, negotiate with local vendors, assemble acquisition packages and fill urgent requirements.

DLA Aviation’s Joe Andrews deployed to Humacao, Puerto Rico, to help set up a mobile surgical hospital as the local civilian hospital underwent repairs. Although he normally helps procure aviation parts for the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point, North Carolina, Andrews spent 60 days in Humacao providing contracting support for items such as generators, emergency lighting, hazardous waste disposal, medical gas and even bus service.

“DLA’s capability in support of humanitarian relief and the warfighter is tremendous,” Andrews said. For items DLA doesn’t manage itself, the agency can help the warfighter contract locally for them—a practice called “reach back.” This means DLA “can provide support in all the major commodities,” Andrews said.
 
To volunteer, employees must have their supervisor’s approval to participate, meet mandatory health requirements and complete training that includes online courses and a week of instruction at DLA Headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on topics ranging from emergency buys to understanding military operations and whole-of-government support.

“Cadre members are regarded not just as expeditionary contracting officers but as DLA reps, and they come from different parts of the agency, such as Troop Support and Distribution,” Camper said. “We arm them with a broad understanding of DLA’s business so they can speak the DLA language and explain to customers what the agency can offer them.”
 
To be assigned to an RDT, cadre members must also complete two weeks of pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they receive personal protective equipment, complete additional medical screenings, and train on active-shooter response and vehicle rollovers. Cadre members are added to the battle roster after all requirements have been met and spend one year as an alternate before they’re placed in primary status.

Expeditionary contracting officers like Jamal Brooks, a DLA Land and Maritime employee who supports the Army’s Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Michigan, view their participation as a chance to join in military operations and influence mission success.

“Overall, I have become a more effective communicator, as deployed RDT members consistently engage a plethora of strategic partners of various ranks and grades,” Brooks said. “My leadership skills have also been enhanced because RDT members are constantly engaged in strategic thinking and decision making.”

For Hoang Ho of DLA Logistics Operations, being a part of the Expeditionary Contracting Cadre has been an opportunity to broaden himself. And the training he received gives him confidence in his ability to deploy at a moment’s notice.

“I can advise and assist in the development of requirements and execute direct acquisitions in austere conditions,” Ho said. “It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re part of the first set of boots on the ground.”

Being a cadre member also gives expeditionary contracting officers like Christopher Tull from DLA Strategic Materials the chance to impart their skills on service logisticians. Tull recently trained Virginia Army National Guard Contingency Contracting Teams on contract administration as they prepared to deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in fiscal 2019.

Major training exercises such as Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian in South Korea are another example of missions cadre members may be required to support.

To volunteer, contact Camper at Charmaine.camper@dla.mil or 571-767-1478. If you are in series 1102 as a GS-12 to GS-14, you can submit a resume just in time to attend the next training in November.