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New brigade at Fort Shafter to help oversee Army contracts


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POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 413th Contracting Support Brigade, which was activated last week at Fort Shafter, is not a typical Army unit.

It is part of a 2,000-member Army organization—half of them civilians—that was created last year after a Pentagon commission recommended the new command to battle fraud and abuse in Iraq war contracts.

Two years ago, an Army task force investigated contracting in the Army's contracting office in Kuwait. The task force was deployed after the Army Criminal Investigation Command and Army auditing agency uncovered nearly 80 cases of potential fraud handled by the office. Pentagon officials said the military contracts, most covering supplies as varied as bottled water, tents and latrines for troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, resulted in charges against 29 civilians and soldiers.

The new Fort Shafter brigade is part of the Expeditionary Contracting Command, formerly an all-civilian organization, which is transitioning into a military command, responsible for overseeing contracting operations throughout the world and, in this case, in the Pacific theater of operations, said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, in a news release. Although the new brigade will support's Mixon's operations in Asia and the Pacific, it is not part of his command.

The command, led by Brig. Gen. Camile Nicholas in Virginia, will include 171 teams of two military officers and two enlisted soldiers who will be able to rapidly deploy into combat zones. Two of those teams will be stationed in Hawaii and assigned to the 413th Support Brigade. Two others are planned for Alaska.

Located at Fort Shafter's Palm Circle, the brigade's headquarters consists of 12 civilians and nine soldiers led by Col. Mike Hoskin.

B.J. Wiener, Fort Shafter spokeswoman, said there also will be an installation contracting office established at Fort Shafter.

Nicholas' Expeditionary Contracting Command falls under the Army's new Contracting Command, which will oversee at least $85 billion in more than 500 contracts per year—about 20 percent of all federal contracts.

The Army Contracting Command uncased its colors in March 2008 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Besides the Expeditionary Contracting Command, which focuses on contracting support to forward-deployed forces, it also oversees the Installation Contracting Command, which is to provide contracting support for Army installations on the mainland.