Two 902nd Contracting Battalion Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are in Mongolia through Sunday supporting disaster preparedness and response by multinational civil and military authorities.
Gobi Wolf 2018 is a reoccurring disaster response exercise and exchange mission in Mongolia to enhance operational emergency response plans, regional partnerships and support for response to natural disasters in the region.
Major Thomas Givens, the battalion’s team leader, and Staff Sgt. A.J. Dominguez, the battalion’s contract specialist, departed JBLM May 25 for Mongolia to directly support I Corps, which is the lead element for Gobi Wolf 2018.
I Corps works in conjunction with the U.S. Army Pacific and Alaska National Guard.
Givens explained that contracting team members played a critical role in negotiating contract support during its recent site survey visit April 25 to May 5.
“Lead planners brought our (contracting team) into the planning conferences where we were able to successfully negotiate terms of the exercise with the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency,” Givens said of his team’s ability to procure transportation and meals for U.S. personnel supporting the exercise at no cost. “The U.S. embassy (representative) remarked that this was the first time he has seen NEMA agree to cover down on things that were previously contracted and that our contract team provided sound advice and guidance to lead planners.”
Givens said that exercise planners rely heavily on the contracting team’s ability to negotiate with NEMA partners and insist that they are present anytime decisions must be made with regard to the exercise’s execution.
“I think this small example really highlights the invaluable role our 51 Charlie Soldiers play as business advisers to commanders,” Givens said.
Additional acquisition support by the contracting Soldiers include contracts for 10 interpreters, a conference package that includes a conference center and snacks, the use of eight classrooms from a nearby school to support a command post exercise and building materials for collapsed structure training. Those contracts are valued at approximately $67,000.
Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Shilley, the commander of the 902nd CCB Bn., said exercising indispensable contracting skills enhances the capabilities of contracting Soldiers to provide materiel readiness to meet today’s requirements and prepare for the next contingency.
“Supporting exercises such as Gobi Wolf in an austere environment (is) crucial to the development of a contracting officer’s development and serve as a foundation to making them capable of supporting our worldwide contracting mission anytime and anywhere,” Shilley said.
Givens and Dominguez are operating from Khovd, Mongolia, which is a province of about 40,000 people.
“This location was picked because the terrain is rugged,” Givens said. “Each year, many tourists find themselves in need of rescue while mountain climbing, and drownings frequently occur here due to the swift rivers that run through Khovd.”
In addition to Department of Defense involvement, a variety of U.S. agencies work hand-in-hand with the Mongolian NEMA, Mongolian armed forces and industry leaders to foster enhanced interagency communication and coordination, and civil-military interoperability.