In the parlance of their trade, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1967th Contingency Contracting Team (CCT) is delivering the goods.
“Thus far, the mission has been nothing short of success,” said Master Sgt. Zachary Tevis of Onalaska, Wisconsin, an acquisition logistics and technology noncommissioned officer with the 1967th CCT. “The team hit the ground running and efficiently contracts for mission requirements with a moment’s notice.”
The 1967th CCT mobilized in January for its deployment to the Horn of Africa where it is providing contracting support services to U.S. forces in the region, and is currently responsible for 74 contracts worth more than $10 million within the Combined Joint Operation Area (CJOA), directly affecting joint task force missions in several countries.
“This matters because without contracting support for supplies and services that cannot be obtained through the supply chain, each location would not be able to function properly,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Clements of Holmen, Wisconsin, also an acquisition logistics and technology noncommissioned officer.
Capt. Gary Brown, acquisition team leader from Thorp, Wisconsin, said the 1967th CCT has worked with area vendors for meal services, minor construction and numerous supplies. The team has also supported the Djiboutian government in its COVID-19 response.
“After we searched the market and found a supplier that fit both our standards and Djibouti’s needs, we were able to award some contracts,” said Capt. James Hedman, a contract officer from Milwaukee. “After awarding the contract, there was a little bit of admin work on our side, including paying the vendor and letting Civil Affairs know when the materials were scheduled to arrive in country, but that was about it. I am grateful to have been able to provide support for the local economy and patients.”
Hedman said that as stewards of taxpayer dollars, the 1967th ensures money is spent responsibly and in support of mission goals of the combatant commander.
Tevis said the team has also cleared up ambiguity on aging contracts, facilitated contractor payment on challenging projects, and closed out more than 30 expired actions. In addition, the team is supporting COVID-19 related requirements for the CJOA.
“This unit has a wealth of very knowledgeable, experienced contracting professionals,” said Sgt. Brookelyn Nelson of Superior, Wisconsin, a contract specialist with the 1967th CCT. “I believe the unit has been great with adapting to each challenge that has been thrown at us.”
Tevis said the CJOA is a land of many languages and unpredictable communications, but Hedman said translation services are abundant, and working with interpreters and linguists helps.
“Developing relationships with foreign vendors is a complication, but by no means a challenge,” Hedman said.
“The biggest concern is ensuring the vendor base understands what we are looking for,” Brown said.
“Contract law and regulation is a broad and challenging business that takes an entire career to master,” Tevis said. Patience, persistence, and research help the 1967th CCT meet and overcome these challenges. One such example is developing a streamlined invoice and payment system to ensure prompt payment in an environment accustomed to multiple currencies.
“We have had a significant impact on policy reform and changes to the current office procedures for the better,” Tevis continued.
Working in a joint environment — Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines — adds to the complexity of the 1967h CCT mission.
“Everyone does things a little differently,” Brown said. “Until you work in another service hierarchy, it is not the same.”
Hedman said working at this level of a joint environment provides a chance to put his doctrinal training to use.
“This experience has given me the opportunity to learn and grow from counterparts of other services and agencies,” Hedman said. “Our time here will allow us to use our experience at the state level.”
Nelson is new to the military contracting profession, and excited to learn.
“It has been incredible to learn and work with everyone, especially with those from other branches,” Nelson said. “It has allowed all of us to be able to share contracting experiences with each other, both from military and civilian experiences. It has opened my eyes up to what the future holds for me with this profession, both within the military and on the civilian side.”
All team members said they were in good spirits.
“Considering everything going on in the world, and the limitations brought on by COVID-19, the overall unit morale is high,” Brown said. “We are focused on our mission and preparing for the typical end-of-year procurement surge.
“This unit has met and surpassed all my expectations thus far,” he continued. “We have all jumped in to accomplish the mission and ensure the customer has gotten what they wanted when they needed it — all while ensuring every taxpayer dollar is spent effectively and efficiently.”
Senior Airman Gage Daniel contributed to this report