CONS, finance team deliver enduring support

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Gabrielle Winn
  • 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron

Whether defending the base, caring for Airmen or airlift, deployed Airmen have the same job objective - support the enduring mission.

The 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron acquisition team at Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger, supports the mission by providing full-range financial management assistance and being the acquisitions focal point for commodities, services and construction requirements.

This diverse team consists of four members from contracting and one member as a financial management and disbursing agent. They are responsible for procuring required goods and services for the entire base.

Contracting works with the customer to determine their needs and with vendors who can help fulfill those needs. The disbursing agent provides the funds that procure those items and services needed by the customer so they can continue and complete their mission.

“I am the sole financial manager at AB 201, servicing [all base personnel]. I am the disbursing agent, paying agent, budget analysis, and cashier for the base,” said Tech. Sgt. Christina D. Gomez, 724th EABS financial management flight chief and disbursing agent. “I also determine propriety of funding for purchases being made to support the mission.”

Though Gomez solely provides customer service to service members at AB 201 for their pay and entitlement needs, she also works hand in hand with contracting.

“I join the contracting team whenever there is a local purchase that needs to be made to a local vendor for goods and services within my fiscal responsibility,” Gomez said. “At the end of the day, I account down to the penny for every transaction made to ensure that I stay balanced and ensure we are spending the tax payer’s dollar appropriately.”

Without the knowledgeable contracting team and the funding managed by the financial manager, the goods and services requirements needed to complete the mission at the base stops.

“We are the sole business advisors for the base and the acquisition focal point for commodities, services and construction,” explains Staff Sgt. William R. Washington, 724th EABS contracting officer. “In addition to our U.S. market buys, I work alongside Tech. Sgt. Gomez to provide opportunities to the local Agadez population, with the long term goal of building a thriving and sustainable economy.”

Being in an austere location, members of the acquisition team get the opportunity to expand their duties within their jobs in ways they normally wouldn’t at home station.

“We are much closer to the mission being downrange,” Washington said. “There are several degrees of separation that occur stateside where you will have different roles within your squadron that perform specific functions that contribute to a whole. When downrange, several of those roles and functions are often rolled up into only one or two deployers, and that is a big part of what brings contracting and finance much closer together operationally.”

Although the work is challenging, it doesn’t go without reward.

“The team has leveraged relationships with local nationals, secured funds for village cleanup enhancing mission capabilities, and promptly delivered $153,000 in base purchased assets averting a supply backlog,” Gomez stated.

In addition, the team worked with the communications flight on a $25,000 wireless access point purchase extending the existing wireless internet service to four additional base compounds supporting [all] personnel.

Being a part of this diverse team gives the members a feeling of accomplishment providing support that they can be proud of.

“I love it here! I feel like I am truly contributing to an amazing mission here,” Gomez said. “I am honored to be the sole financial manger because I know that my job here contributes to the bigger picture in making the mission succeed every day.”

“Being part of a small team and having the ability to affect a larger scope of operations has been a great and meaningful opportunity,” Washington said. “This is something that you don’t experience with performing similar work at other locations. It’ll be rewarding to be able to pass on the knowledge and experience I’ve gained to the broader career field.”

The 724 EABS is one of many bases in Africa that fall under the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing’s area of responsibility. The 435 AEW strongly values a team with a variety of different specialties that allow a wider scope where Airmen are not confined to one particular group and are inherently multi-capable. These Airmen are enablers of Airpower and a critical asset in posturing major component commands for countering the activities of near-peer threats.