Photo by MAJ Chris Patterson
John Merlette of the Utah Guard’s 1993rd CCT, left,
observes a U.S. Army Engineer explain a statement of
work to local vendors in Kosovo.
Germany — The 409th Contracting Support Brigade might as
well spell training with a capital "T" because it is
such an essential factor to their success. The 409th CSB
serves as the executive agent for expeditionary
contracting in the Balkans and its 903rd Contingency
Contracting Battalion provides a continuous
boots-on-the-ground presence at the Camp Bondsteel
office. Additionally, the Army National Guard, which
rotate contingency contracting teams through the Kosovo
office, provides vital workload assistance.
Since the ARNG CCTs nine-months deployments do not
afford the luxury of easing into the work, intensive
contracting-specific training becomes imperative.
"Our part of the Kosovo peacekeeping mission is 24/7,
365 days a year, and we have the responsibility to
ensure the office is manned with teams that can execute
our missions from the get-go," said Lt. Col. David Hosna,
the commander of the 903rd CCB.
The 1993rd Contingency
Contracting Team, a four-person ARNG unit from Utah,
recently completed their training with the 409th CSB's
Regional Contracting Office, Bavaria and relieved the 1933rd
Contingency Contracting Team from California at Camp
"The Utah team was able to see joint multinational training
operations as well as work in a contracting office with
seasoned contract specialists who are proven practitioners
at providing training and reach-back support to deployed
contingency members," said JoAnna Lovett-Black, the chief of
the 409th CSB's RCO Bavaria.
In addition to formal classroom instruction, the more than
120 training hours for the Utah team incorporated
real-world, hands-on components in order to provide team
members with the competencies required to execute commercial
and construction contracts, she explained.
Photo courtesy of MAJ Chris
of the 1993rd Contingency Contracting Team
their active-duty counterparts in Kosovo in
Hosna and Lovett-Black
agreed that it is critical to assess the competencies
and capabilities of the incoming team members
"Some of the team members come with prior experience
from the business world or they currently work at a
purchasing office ... we have the flexibility to adjust
our training scenarios and assigned tasks to reinforce
those areas and skills and focus our training where it
is most needed," Lovett-Black said.
"It's a huge challenge. In addition to being technically
proficient in expeditionary contracting, contracting
professionals must be good stewards of taxpayer money
and procure the services and supplies at the best value
possible," Hosna said.
The Kosovo contracting office executed commercial
contracts for services and supplies to support the
Kosovo task force and humanitarian assistance projects
within the European Command area of responsibility for
more than $22 million during the 2009 fiscal year. The
approximately 124 contracting actions ranged from
resurfacing the helipad to janitorial services to
procuring personal protection equipment, Hosna
explained. Nonetheless, the members of the 1993rd CCT
are confident in their ability to execute their mission.
"Our training at RCO Bavaria has been on point in many
significant ways. The coordination with the incumbent
ARNG CCT was important, and RCO Bavaria arranged for two
members (one from the California CCT and an active duty
CCT member) to provide relevant training on current
issues and expectations for the office in Kosovo. We
leave feeling confident in our skills and knowing that
an umbrella of long-term assistance is only a phone call
away," said Maj. Chris Patterson, the commander of the