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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2010

South Dakota National Guard Soldiers sustain warfighters, save money, boost economy

By Army Capt. Anthony Deiss 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan - For U.S. and coalition forces serving in the capital region of Kabul, Afghanistan, getting the food and fuel they need to fight the war doesn’t happen without funding.

Making funding possible is the Directorate of Resource Management for the Kabul Base Cluster Installation Command.

These South Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers from the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade provide the expertise needed to award, fund and sustain contracts, which ensure servicemembers have the necessary essentials to be successful in their mission.

“We get the funding needed to support the troops and facilitate the contracts required for services or equipment,” said Army Maj. Pete Jerzak, director of resource management for the DRM.

“If servicemembers need non-tactical vehicles for their mission, we take care of everything from getting the contract paperwork submitted, approved, funded and awarded.”

With 11 military bases in the Kabul Base Cluster, the DRM is responsible for ensuring all the installations have the needed construction, commodities and service contracts to sustain the bases and the more than 9,000 servicemembers that reside on them.

“Dining and laundry services, building construction and maintenance, armed security guard and labor contracts, firefighting equipment – anything that sustains our camps and our troops comes through DRM,” Jerzak said.

“Our main goal is to give the servicemembers exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it at the best price possible to the U.S. taxpayer.”

The best price is exactly what they are providing: In the last seven months, the DRM has saved the U.S. government more than $175 million.

“Through streamlining services and taking a hard look at base or mission requirements we’ve saved a lot of money,” said Jerzak, of Rapid City, S.D. “We are concerned about the validity of the projects and services, and we make sure we don’t have redundant contracts.

“If a shop has eight personnel and four non-tactical vehicles (NTV), we ask the question: What’s the actual requirement?" he said. “Do you need four NTVs for eight people? No you don’t – you can probably get by with two. That’s a savings of $250,000.”

Another example: Having one Logistics Civil Augmentation Program supervisor – instead of two – for two bases in close proximity to one another. This saved the government $1.5 million.

“It’s reducing and validating actual requirements – that’s how we streamline it,” Jerzak said. “As a fellow taxpayer, I don’t want my money wasted.”

To improve contract efficiencies and reduce redundant contracts, Jerzak relies on his DRM team to help cover down on the bases of the KBC.

With only five members, the DRM works closely with contracting officer representatives  on each base, who oversee contracts and are responsible for ensuring the military gets exactly what they specify from a vendor.

“An important aspect of this job is the relationship we have with CORs,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Carroll, service contracts manager for the DRM. “We want to make certain the CORs understand the contracts and we are getting what we pay for.

“Ensuring the COR assigned is managing a contract correctly and keeping visibility on when a contract expires is really critical,” continued Carroll, of Spearfish, S.D. “We want to make sure there is not a gap in service, because if there is, it’s the servicemember that suffers.”

Guiding the DRM team on how contracts are awarded has been the COIN, or counterinsurgency, directive issued by International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. David Petraeus.

Jerzak said the directive is helping stop corruption and boost the economy.

“What we try to push is not multiple contracts to many vendors, but one large contract to the correct vendor,” Jerzak said. “We try and get as many of those correct contracts to the smaller Afghan companies where they can spread the money out more in the community.”

Smaller Afghan companies rely on other businesses to help provide the supplies, equipment or services it needs in order to fulfill a contract – instead of using a larger company which has these assets available.

The money essentially gets “stove piped” and directly benefits one company rather than multiple, Jerzak said. “I think the Afghans see that by awarding contracts to smaller vendors we provide equal and fair distribution. You reinforce an economy we need to build up.”

The COIN directive is also producing a better service and quality product from Afghan companies.

“We reinforce the COIN policy by spending the correct amount of money on the Afghan products the first time; instead of just throwing more money at equipment time-and-time again,” said Jerzak.

“The Afghans are improving their products because we are buying more quality products off the economy. They are learning they need to provide better products, and that’s helped out a lot.”

With saving money, improving contracts and services for servicemembers and boosting the local economy, the DRM team is making a difference in the warfight throughout the KBC.

“Getting our troops what they need, reducing spending and needless contracts and helping the Afghans – at the end of the day that’s what we want to accomplish – and we’ve done that,” Jerzak said.