New Organization to Help Combatant Commanders Manage Acquisition
By Jonathan Stack
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Oct. 24, 2008 A new organization housed by the Defense Logistics Agency here will provide acquisition support for joint operations involving the Defense Department and other government agencies.
The Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office officially stood up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 20.
“In 2007, Congress directed that DoD implement a programmatic approach to fix problems which exist in contingency contracting and contingency acquisition management,” said Tim Freihofer, the office’s director. “The JCASO is one of the elements prescribed to implement and carry out that mission.”
The office will oversee expeditionary contracting conducted during combat, post-conflict and contingency operations, Freihofer said.
“If you go out to the combatant command logistics directorates, you find that they don’t have the expertise available to them to manage the level, size and scope of contracted support and services that are currently in their plans,” Freihofer explained.
“In order to both train and provide that acquisition expertise, the decision was made to stand up JCASO, as opposed to providing the five combatant commanders [their own] acquisition staff,” he said.
By and large, he said, it’s more economical to make this 28-member unit available when needed than to maintain a staff element in each of the regional commands.
DoD officials were considering three organizations to host the JCASO: U.S. Joint Forces Command, the Defense Contracting Management Agency and DLA.
“After looking at all the pros and cons, DLA was the best choice,” Freihofer said.
DLA was selected because the agency currently supports all the combatant commands and geographical areas, and already has a mission of sustainment and support. The agency also has acquisition management expertise.
“The whole package of the things that would be required to successfully stand up and field this capability for the combatant commanders is resident in DLA,” Freihofer said.
The JCASO’s staff will include 17 military members and 11 civilians.
“The staff will provide functional expertise required, as well as two deployable teams of five personnel each,” he said.
The teams are organized and split so they will provide dedicated support to the combatant commands. They will plan, train, exercise and fight with their respective combatant commands.
“This organizational approach provides the COCOM acquisition staff continuity and the bench strength to support high-intensity operations when required,” Freihofer said.
The U.S. government depends on contractors now more than ever before, Freihofer said, employing about 200,000 contractors. Local nationals hired overseas increase that number significantly, he added.
“If contractors are in a joint operating area, the commander is responsible and must oversee their work in theater,” Freihofer said. “In the past, much more was done with our military troops; there were not near as many contractors involved.”
Now the JCASO will oversee and manage that, Freihofer said.
Army Lt. Gen. Robert T. Dail, DLA director, lauded the new organization during a briefing Oct. 22. He explained to DLA employees that the JCASO will provide a contract management synchronizing capability from DLA overseas to the regional combatant commanders and provide contract management oversight, synchronization, transition planning and strategy.
“That’s contract excellence,” Dail said.
(Jonathan Stack works at the Defense Logistics Agency.)