Behind the scenes contracting keeps MEDCEUR moving along

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kelley J. Stewart
  • MEDCEUR 11 Public Affairs
Bottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, power strips, etc. just don't show up at an exercise location. Some people may pack items like coffee and power strips in their luggage, but the majority of them do not.

To get many of these and many other items to support U.S. and multinational service members supporting Medical Training Exercise in Central and Eastern Europe 11, you need people who can legally spend the U.S. government's money. The people doing that at for MEDCEUR 11 are Master Sgt. Billy Morris, 3rd Air Force contingency contracting management operations, and Staff Sgt. Charles McAvoy, 700th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, both from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Sergeant Morris has been in Macedonia since May 25 and has not only set up contracts for U.S. Air Forces in Europe in support of MEDCEUR 11 but also for the Navy Construction Engineers, or SEABEEs, with their humanitarian contingency assistance projects.

The master sergeant wrote the contracts for both MEDCEUR's and SEABEE's life support that includes meals and water. For the SEABEEs, he wrote their material lists so they can purchase material for their construction projects. He also contracts out for items not agreed upon by each country to supply for the exercise.

Many of the contracts Sergeant Morris has worked on required lead time, like the water and fuel contracts.

"You can't just show up on the ground and say you need a certain number of bottles of water," he said. "With our competition requirements, it takes some lead time. I arrived early to make sure that the contracts were heading the right direction."

Sergeant Morris reports directly to Col. (Dr.) Charles Tedder, American co-director for MEDCEUR 11. Nothing is purchased for the exercise without his or his chief of staff's, Lt. Col. James Baldock, approval.

Sergeant McAvoy is the pay agent for MEDCEUR 11, and he is responsible for paying for items needed that aren't covered by a contract. It was Sergeant Morris' idea to bring a three-level contracting specialist on this exercise to give that person some advance cadre experience.

"This is such a great experience," Sergeant McAvoy said. "In a contracting office you're basically responsible for the work on your desk, so that is your domain. Here, we get a requirement, and we jump to it to make sure the requirement is met."

The strangest purchase to date made by the MEDCEUR contracting team has been 400 bottles of hand sanitizer after some SEABEEs came down with a stomach bug.

"It was suggested we by hand sanitizer so that we can kill the germs that were going around," he said.

Initially the hand sanitizer was purchased from local supermarkets, but the market didn't stock 400 individual bottles. The contracting officers had to hit seven different stores to meet the requirement.

"It's not the first time I've emptied everything off of the shelves," Sergeant Morris said with a laugh. "The people who were with me found it quite amusing to go into a store and empty everything off of their shelves, and then go into another store and empty everything off of their shelves."

Capt. Joni Holder, 31st Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate, was with Sergeants Morris and McAvoy on the hand sanitizer purchase. Her specialty is contracts and fiscal law.

"The main reason I went was there was an issue with a SEABEEs contract that had to be hammered out," she said. "Instead of making multiple trips, we did it all at once.

"We got some odd looks from the cashiers for the massive amount of hand sanitizer. The people there in the store were very nice and there were no issues."

The last minute purchasing of hand sanitizer might seem odd, but the arrangements for food and lodging aren't. Contracting specialists work behind the scenes to ensure people deployed or TDY to exercises like MEDCEUR 11 can do their jobs with no worries.