PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia --
The U.S. presence on Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, started on an empty plot of desert. Over the course of nine months, it has since transformed into a bustling tent city. A tent city that the Secretary of State described as vital to the nation’s security and diplomatic objectives in the region.
The 378th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron’s acquisitions enabled the work to bring PSAB to its full operational capability.
“Our fingerprints are on almost every aspect of PSAB,” said Maj. Phillip Olson, 378 ECONS commander. “Being the first full rotation of contingency contracting officers on ground at a bare base is a skillset that the entire contracting career field is trained for. However, very few people actually get this opportunity to live out the experience and hone their craft to the degree that we have been able to here.”
The contracting specialists are responsible for soliciting and acquiring the services and materials needed by the more than 2,500 joint service members on the installation.
“We are at the center of it all,” said Tech. Sgt. Jacqueline Bongard, 378 ECONS superintendent. “The dirt boys dig, structures builds and electricians ensure the lights are on, but it would be all for nothing without the generators, wood or even the cement required to get the job done.”
Anytime a base agency identifies a need, they contact the contracting squadron to submit their requirements.
“We begin the process,” said Bongard. “It’s our job to ensure that the installation has the materials needed to accomplish the mission that the wing commander tasks them with.”
In this fiscal year alone, the 378 ECONS has enabled millions of dollars in purchases to support major projects on the installation, including the building of a new dining facility, the addition of water and electrical systems and the addition of a more stable WiFi on the installation.
“My Government Purchase Card Team consists of four hard working and driven individuals,” said Olson. “They are handling the purchasing requirements for the entire base. The workload my office has been handling over the past four months is nothing short of incredible.”
The contracting specialists also act as the liaison between the squadrons and the Royal Saudi Air Force hosts on the installation to coordinate the escort and entry requirements on the installation.
“Throughout our coordination, we are actively engaged with our RSAF hosts,” Bongard said. “We are always ensuring that no matter the requisition, we are adhering to the rules and regulations of the installation. Thankfully, we have built a wonderful working relationship. That engagement has made our collaboration with our RSAF counterpart cohesive.”
In order to prevent long shipment times for smaller purchases, the contracting specialists also travel to and utilize local vendors. While this may seem be a simple solution for garnering supplies expeditiously, this solution presents its own challenges.
“Most of our customers need their requirements filled as soon as possible in order to accomplish the mission,” said Olsen. “However, there are complex problems that often arise due the limited vendor base and the cultural and language barriers presented by being in a foreign country. These challenges are overcome daily by our contracting specialists’ hard work. They continue to fuel the mission and enable PSAB to enhance its own capability.”
“It is very fulfilling to know our team contributed to the building of tent city,” Bongard said, “This lasting impact and direct contribution in the mission is something that each of us will never forget.”