Contracting saves Operation PacificIron

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Crisp
  • 36 WG/PA

The 36th Contracting Squadron makes several last minute purchases to supply Operation Pacific Iron 2021 and prevent mission failure.

Pacific Iron 21 is an U.S. Air Force operation conducting simulated combat flights from multiple airports. The western Pacific provides a unique and remote training environment due to the location and vast expanse, combined with unencumbered airspace, not otherwise found in the continental United States.

Training in remote locations brings logistical challenges. On the island of Tinian, the majority of the 366th Fighter Wing participants out of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, made reservations at a local hotel. Upon arrival it was discovered the vendor did not have the capability to accept credit card payments, only cash, and there were no other acceptable options.  

“This situation, payment of lodging, is usually handled through individual government travel card payment” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Boak, Contracting Officer, 36th Contracting Squadron. “However when there is a miscommunication such as this we are able to flex and provide this mission support. The anticipated dollar amount drives contract action lead times, with this amount the lead time is normally 45 days. At the time of the request, we had a couple days to put the contract in place.”

Tech. Sgt. Boak worked with the 36th Comptroller Squadron to get the entire payment in cash and then coordinated its shipment from Guam to Tinian.

Lodging is critical for personnel safety and accountability.  Having one primary location for the unit is critical for personnel management and safety.  Without this lodging support, the 34 personnel would not have adequate facilities for their command center while performing their operations.

Equipment safety is equally as important to mission success, especially for an operation expanding combat capabilities. Large bladders are used to transport fuel from Andersen Air Force Base to the remote islands. The bladders are then stored in large plastic barriers called berms, which are used to contain possible fuel spills.  

“Unfortunately, heavy winds and rain were causing a loss in integrity of the berm and additional materials were needed in order to help maintain it” said 2nd Lt. Michael Garcia, Contracting Officer, 36th Contingency Contracting Squadron. “If this berm were lost, fueling operations would not have been able to be completed and it would have been mission failure for the exercise.”

When 2nd Lt. Garcia recieved the call in the evening he worked to make sure there was funding and went to a local store to purchase sandbags and other necessities to weatherize the berms. His coordination got the supplies palletized and airlifted to Tinian, securing the berms and developing his multi-capable skills.

“There was no one on Tinian with buying power to support plus some of the items were not available there” said 2nd Lt. Garcia. “We had to look at a quick-turn solution to make up for getting items that we do not currently have; that is what our contingency contracting officer’s train for.”

Contracting is more than acquiring supplies, it’s also involves the hiring of personnel and securing locations. Won Pat International Airport one of many airfields being utilized during Operation Pacific Iron, but the section the Air Force wished to use was covered in a thick layer of algae which was slippery when wet.

“This creates a surface that can be a dangerous slip hazard for personnel, vehicles, and aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Krisan Languell, Contracting Officer, 36th Contracting Squadron. “We worked to award an $81,000 contract for power washing services at Won Pat International Airport to remove algae from a flight line ramp so that aircraft and equipment could be stationed there. The estimated value for this acquisition has a lead time of 90 days, we procured it in 11 days.”

The 36th Contracting Squadron’s speed in tackling these emergency requests not only help operationalize Andersen, but serve the purpose of cultivating local partnerships by providing the airport a safe environment to use after the exercise.

Operation Pacific Iron 2021 provides effective, flexible, and capabilities-centered forces, ready for deployment worldwide, and enables real-world proficiency in response to a crisis. Similar to Pacific Iron the 36th Contracting Squadron provide effective, flexible, and advanced capabilities in quality of service. Their behind the scene work ensures Andersen continues to project airpower from the forward edge of the Indo-Pacific.