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ECONS build strong foundation for ASAB and honor WHM

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Sometimes it’s the most vital parts of the mission that operate in the background and they often go unnoticed, until something goes wrong.

Then, the problems are all that can be focused on.

This is exactly how the Airmen of the 386th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron describe themselves: a vital part of the mission.

The predominantly female flights of the 386th ECONS took time between working in the background to talk more in-depth about their jobs, working in a female dominant deployed environment and what Women’s History Month means to them.

“As contracting, we are the only ones allowed to spend the government’s money,” said Staff Sgt. Amy Sievers, 386th ECONS contracting officer. “No one really knows or sees stuff like this. We keep our base operational with purchases like food in the [dining facility]. Its life support functions that we basically provide. People wouldn’t be able to live here without contracting.”

Separated into two flights, Infrastructure and Base Operations Support, the ECONS’ specific roles and responsibilities are split to keep the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing operational.

“Infrastructure does pretty much everything Civil Engineering needs,” said Staff Sgt. Rebecca Hartupee, 386th ECONS contracting officer. “We procure and manage all of the construction contracts, all safety equipment and most of the other service contracts such as custodial, refuse and recycling.”

With the Infrastructure flight handing CE needs, BOS flight is responsible for everything else totaling over 30 thousand dollars in contracts, said Staff Sgt. Mallory Cary, 386th ECONS contracting officer.

Dorm furniture, vehicle lease contracts, pool maintenance and Wi-Fi all fall under the responsibility of Cary and BOS flight.

“It’s always a new problem to figure out, and that it keeps it fun and interesting,” said Cary. “The problem at eight [o’clock], won’t be the problem at nine and then there will be a completely different problem at four. It keeps us on our toes.”

In addition to the mission forcing these Airmen to constantly problem solve, the deployed location where they work has also thrown them a curveball.

The environment in which they work is primarily female, a rarity in the military, and for these Airmen it has been a positive experience.

“We’re just continuing a legacy of excellence,” said Staff Sgt. Irinieta Tabuyaqona, 386th ECONS contracting officer. “When I first started my career I had these powerful women around me, teaching me everything I needed to know. Then I get here on my first deployment and I’m surrounded by strong women. I see us continuing a tradition and hopefully we leave an example for those who come after us.”

Not only are they excelling within the workspace, but they also impacting the base outside of their office.  

“I have been here for 5 months, I have seen women help our Airmen grow more than anything,” said Sievers. “We’re away from our families and we have that nurturing ability where if our Airmen are struggling we know how to reach out and bring everyone together as a family. We have that ability to reach out, bring them in and make them feel cared about, I’ve seen it so much out here from the women in the office and on base.”

It’s in this vein that the Airmen of the ECONS take special pride displaying their abilities during Women’s History Month.

‘It’s amazing to think how far we have come in the last century, seeing women in the military, seeing how we impact on a daily basis,” said Staff Sgt. Yen Watanabe, 386th ECONS contracting officer. “It motivates me to see more women in leadership positions and see that gender doesn’t matter as much anymore. It doesn’t matter where you come from to take care of your people.”

It's these ideals, gender aside, which makes these women proud to be a part of the contracting squadron and Air Force as a whole, said Tabuyagona. Whether stateside or deployed, they meet every challenge head on, holding their ground and to the best of their ability.

The women of the 386th ECONS thrive, not only as a vital part of ASAB mission, but also in their unique experience as women in the military.