NCO leads contracting efforts for Patriot mission
By Staff Sgt. Marissa Tucker, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 26, 2013
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Service members in the first boots on the ground for any mission bear the difficult task of starting from square one. Add an international location and the ordeal has potential to be extremely time consuming and difficult. Here at Incirlik, one NCO is ensuring incoming contracting teams supporting the NATO Patriot Battery deployment to Turkey have a hand up in equipping their units to perform the mission.
Tech. Sgt. Ruben Ayala, 39th Contracting Squadron NCO in charge of plans and programs, is the go-to guy for securing contracts for goods and services in support of the Patriot mission. A two-time combat vet, Ayala is well-versed in contingency operations and applied his knowledge while assisting U.S. Army, Dutch and German contracting entities deployed to Turkey.
Since Dec. 31, 2012, Ayala has been the source for all contracting information to accommodate the needs of more than 1,000 NATO service members deployed throughout Turkey. In true Air Force fashion, he created a benchmark guide that includes all current and authorized contractor information for Turkey, contact information for all government and state organizations in Turkey and regulation documents to help the services comply with the Status of Forces Agreement here.
"I put together a contracting guide - sixty pages of information with everything from contractors that we have for construction to services and transportation," Ayala said. "I got them points of contact for all base agencies, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate and the defense attaché. [We] planned their deployment for them."
Providing this guide to the deployed Soldiers greatly reduced the adjustment period for their respective contracting entities. Because of Ayala's efforts, Soldiers procured the goods and services necessary to meet U.S. Air Forces in Europe/Air Forces Africa and NATO objectives in a matter of days, which came as no surprise to 39th CONS commander Maj. Wardrias Little.
"We are the only contracting entity when it comes to getting things done on the Air Force side in Turkey," Little said. "We have counterparts in Izmir and Ankara, but they all flow though us. We make sure we get the items that ensure the mission gets done as expeditiously, economically and as efficiently as possible."
In the spirit of joint operational cooperation, Ayala decided to provide each deployed contracting specialist a tour of the local area to give them a hands-on view of Adana, where they would probably frequent to get supplies. This trip, meant as an orientation of sorts, gave an in-depth welcome to the area and prepared the Soldiers for what they could expect.
"We showed them different areas of Adana like the industrial yard, shipping companies, malls and grocery stores," Ayala said. "I wanted them to understand what the layout was like.
While acting as a consultant to the NATO units, Ayala noticed an issue with Dutch Army contracts. The contracted companies were not receiving tax exemptions when purchasing goods on the Turkish economy because there is no SOFA between the Netherlands and Turkey. Due to his diligence in correcting the issue, a memorandum of agreement is being drafted to ensure the Dutch receive the same tax exemptions as the U.S. Armed Forces.
"Our U.S. Army, German and Dutch counterparts have nothing less than praised him on his level of effort in making their lives as simple as possible," Little said. "He understands the environment that our counterparts are coming into. For them it's all new territory."
As Ayala's role as a liaison winds down, he reflects on the experience, comparing it to a deployment with a few odd, but memorable events. Ayala credits the 39th CONS director of business operations Mark Brown and several other Airmen and civilians with ensuring Soldiers supporting the Patriot mission are fully equipped.
"The people who helped me were life savers. From things like getting 300 mattresses overnight to figuring out how to feed everyone, it wouldn't have worked without a group effort," he said.