A walk across McConnell -- The road to 'Ready'

  • Published
  • By Maj. Amy Harshner
  • 22nd Contracting Squadron
No base has a single path to getting and sustaining "Ready."

The journey begins with the base's establishment and the road curves and divides to meet the base's mission. As threats emerge, and the wing's priorities and vision evolve, our planning adapts to keep us on track.

At McConnell, it is simple to point out new facilities, streamlined services, upgraded equipment, etc., as tangible evidence of readiness. However, not many realize the amazing road we take to plan and execute each unit's roles in order to sustain readiness.

As the commander of the 22nd Contracting Squadron, I am proud to share how this small, yet mighty squadron plays a critical role executing the mission, priorities and vision.

As you know, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's mission is to "Deliver total force mission ready Airmen and KC-135 mobility to combatant commander through robust installation support...anytime, anywhere!"

The contracting squadron's mission is to "Provide superior acquisition support enabling the 22nd ARW to maintain combat readiness and sustainability worldwide."

We do this by providing acquisition strategies and negotiating contracts to meet the needs of the wing and our total force partners.

The 22nd CONS is responsible for providing the best value to taxpayers, to ensure maximum competition and a level playing field for industry and to support socio-economic programs such as small business development.

To this date, the contracting squadron awards approximately 500 new contracts each year valued at $30 million, and manages long-term contracts for $70 million

As we walk across McConnell, we can get a more insightful view of the road to readiness we've taken and a look at the road ahead.

Ready Mobility
Since the control tower is an easy landmark for all, let's being at the airfield.

In May 2007, the contracting squadron awarded a new Wildlife Control Services contract valued at $550,000 to support the Bird Air Strike Hazard Reduction Program.

The Wildlife Control Services contractor provides comprehensive habitat control to mitigate the risk of birds and wildlife striking of McConnell's aircraft, essential to a safe operating airfield environment and a pivotal role in the success of the BASH program.

In addition to assisting the BASH program at McConnell, the contracting squadron is responsible for urgent contracts for the 22nd Maintenance Squadron that are often needed when critical supplies are out of stock.

The 22nd CONS turns contracts immediately to support getting valuable grounded KC-135 Stratotankers back in the air. In the past year, we've purchased engine bolts, fuel pressure transducers and de-icing fluids. Most notably, we've purchased a $41,000 boom lift, necessary for maintainer's safety in performing these aircraft repairs.

Ready Airmen and Families
Taking care of Airmen and their families is just as important as having the right equipment and facilities. Airmen with physical and/or emotional issues most likely can't perform to their highest potential, can't perform at all or perform while distracted, potentially missing required details and causing an unsafe workplace, putting other Airmen and critical assets at risk.

Recognizing healthy Airmen is a main pillar to readiness, the 22nd ARW provides supplemental contracted medical services for the 22nd Medical Group valued at $3 million annually. This includes the appointment line, referral management and medical professionals, including physicians, mental health providers, pharmacists and etcetera variety of other services..

Another way to benefit Airmen's and their overall wellness is by focusing on the Robert J. Dole Community Center.

This year, Deb's Snack Bar was relocated to a renovated area of the Robert J. Dole Community center. This $130,000 contracted move allowed Deb's to expand the menu, making healthy food options more accessible to the McConnell community. It also created another social atmosphere for meetings and Airmen to study with free wireless internet, and provided a place for Airmen to relax.

· The safety of McConnell Airmen and their families is also important. In Sep 2009, the 22nd CONS awarded a contract to the 22nd Security Forces Squadron to replace six separate pieces of gear found to be dry rotting in a single specialized harness. This significant upgrade standardized McConnell's forces with the deployed forces, improving Airmen's equipment familiarization. This negotiated contract led to an $11, 000 savings.

Ready Base
As far as focusing on McConnell's readiness, in August 2009, the contracting squadron awarded the 22nd Communications Squadron a $480,000 base-wide Enhanced Emergency 911 System. The base emergency 911 calls are no longer routed off base, which allows for faster emergency responses.

The contracting squadron has also aided in reinforcing McConnell's special operations air refueling by renovating Building 1127in June 2009. This required replacing windows with block walls, installing reinforced doors, elaborate security system and electrical/communication upgrades to provide a required secure facility.

Improvements to the McConnell's flightline were also made in the last year, when the contracting squadron also awarded a contract to upgrade Taxiway Delta's lighting.

This highly competitive acquisition installed certified solar light emitting diode programmable aviation lights providing two miles of visibility to enhance night flying operations and full compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization's airport code. The 22nd CONS negotiations also led to a 30 percent budget savings for McConnell.

McConnell's map will continue to change, ensuring sustained/improved readiness in support of the 22nd ARW mission. Here are few contracted projects down the road:

· School age playground: $118, 000 alteration to provide access to disabled children.

· Indoor/outdoor pools: Multiple contracts awarded to upgrade pool surfaces, electrical systems, deck and lighting.

22nd CONS! You got it... We bought it!

Dennis Fry and Capt. Rosa Krauss, 22nd CONS members, also contributed to this article.