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386th Contracting Works Behind the Scenes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Within the first couple of weeks the 386th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron starting their deployment, the Noncombative Evacuation Operation was initiated, which called the contracting office into action over the next couple of months.

U.S. Master Sgt. Thomas Schaefer, the senior enlisted leader for the 386th ECONS, said that the NEO exposed how fine the new team would work together.

“As the situation unfolded, I very quickly realized that I was surrounded by a team of compassionate and motivated Airmen that would find a way to yes for our mission partners, as well as looking out for each other,” Schaefer said. “They were flexible and understood the complexity of the situation and that our brothers and sisters across the installation were doing their best to forecast requirements with the information they had at the time.”

Schaefer expressed his thankfulness to the 386th ECONS ability to cope and meet with the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing’s needs.

“Many of them volunteered to assist with food distribution and clean up even after a 12 or more-hour shift,” said Schaefer. “There were quite a few occasions where our few cardholders would just get done with their shift, only to get called back in an hour later to go into town to make some more purchases because a new flight was coming in.”

The NEO brought additional crucial needs according to Schaefer, who said that approximately $200,000 was spent and that more than 35,000 items were purchased in support of the operation, like baby formula, diapers, hygiene supplies, custodial services, refuse collection and personal protective equipment for aircraft sanitation.

“The Infrastructure Flight was also able to negotiate the early completion of an airfield project that nearly doubled the parking capacity for C-17s, which directly facilitated the evacuation efforts,” said Schaefer. “I truly believe some of the items they purchased were potentially lifesaving, or, at the very least, averted some severe medical issues, particularly for the infants that may not have had access to nutrition for days prior to their arrival at ASAB.”

During normal operations, the 386th ECONS is responsible for providing contracting support to not only Ali Al Salem Air Base, but also Al Jaber Air Base and Cargo City in Kuwait and Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Schaefer explained that this can include, but is not limited to, the purchasing of office furniture, approved uniform patches, emergency water resupply, contracted service for refuse, vehicle leases, Wi-Fi, camp support, construction of Airmen brown stone dorm projects, entry control points, airfield projects and water line repair needs.

Overall, during the 386th ECONS time at ASAB, they awarded approximately $55 million and around 2,400 contract actions said Schaefer, who added that some of those contracts will be spent over the next couple of years. Schaefer explained that a contract action is a new contract award, a contract modification or a Government Purchase Card transaction, which is the primary method for items under $35,000 in a contingency environment.

“Some differences that will be universally true when in a deployed environment compared to stateside, would be acquisition thresholds,” said Schaefer. “The GPC can be used for up to $35,000 here, but only $10,000 stateside for supply purchases. At most stateside locations, many units have their own cardholder, however, here it is centralized and entirely managed by the 386th ECONS.”

Schaefer ended with a condensed form of what the 386th ECONS does for the 38th AEW.

“If the federal government is spending money, it has been done so by a warranted contracting officer,” Schaefer said. “A contracting officer is a duty title that can be used by enlisted members, officers or a civilian employee, so long as they were issued a warrant that authorizes them to enter into contracts on behalf of the government. I’m proud of the energy and professionalism my Wingmen exhibited through the grind of the entire operation.”