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387 AES JET/IA Airmen Provide Contracting, E&I Support in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Some distance away from any Air Force installation, a group of forward-deployed Airmen sit at Erbil Air Base, Iraq, working diligently to provide contingency contracting support in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.


These forward-deployed Airmen, better known as Joint Expeditionary Tasked and Individual Augmentees, or JET/IA Airmen for short, work alongside Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in joint taskings in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.


As one of only two squadrons in the world who perform the function of supporting JET/IA, the 387th AES supports joint and ground component commanders with more than 350 individually-sourced Airmen.


“The JET/IA program allows the Air Force to support Joint and sister Service forces with Airmen possessing specialized and high-demand skills. JET Airmen augment Joint and Army units as individuals or groups of individuals where they provide their expertise to the overall team,” said Air Force Capt. Mark Zakner, Regional Contracting Office-Erbil/Syria contracting officer. “Our contracting cohort of JET Airmen supports Army Contracting Command's 408th Brigade with augmentees spread across several locations in support of OIR.”


Airmen at Erbil AB support several different missions including contracting, retrograde and communications infrastructure design and installation. The contracting team negotiates with domestic and local contractors on fair prices in acquiring construction supplies and services in support of the coalition and U.S. Forces in the area of operations. The Airmen supporting communications infrastructure design and installation are comprised of Air Force Engineering and Installations teams from the Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maine Air National Guard.



“Much of our support is outsourced locally,” said Zackner. “We are that bridge between the local marketplace to acquire the necessary services in support of the warfighter. We have to do so for a price that is advantageous and reasonable to the U.S. taxpayer.”


The team at Erbil also makes sure that retrograde activities are in line with national priorities and are fiscally responsible.


“We are doing the retrograde mission so we are getting contracting equipment and personnel and making sure everything is accounted for,” said Maj. John Hofmann, team lead for the Regional Contracting Team.


Also integral to the operations in Erbil is the Air Force Engineering and Installation team where they are able to see first-hand the product of their labors.


Members of Air Force E & I deploy worldwide to establish communications systems and ensure they remain functional. The scope of their work allows them to install and engineer new communications systems for a specific mission's requirements, as well as remove and relocate old or outdated systems. They can even deliver emergency and programmed mobile communications, as well as on-site system maintenance and modifications.


“As part of Air Force E & I we predominately put permanent fiber and communication infrastructure to build out communications so that a base can get off of tactical communications,” said Capt. Adam Rodriquez,   Air Force E & I project engineer. “As the engineering team we put project packages together for the team chief to come out and execute.”


The engineers take measurements to ensure that a solution is built, materials are ordered coordination is complete with the base so the installation can seamlessly complete their projects.


Tech. Sgt. Amber Sides, the team chief, explained that their most recent project is working the completion of a conduit path that will eventually build a communications ring around the base to support future capabilities.


“The extensive experience in the Air Force contracting community makes it uniquely qualified to provide augmentees for contingency contracting support throughout CENTCOM theater,” said Zakner. ”JET Airmen are exposed to multi-service and multi-agency battle plans, processes and execution molding them into future Joint leaders.”