Embracing “Light Speed” acquisitions for a lean, agile and fast Space Force garrison

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dave Allen, 50th Contracting Squadron commander and Maj. Cyrus Perry, 21st Contracting Squadron commander
  • Peterson-Schriever garrison

The Peterson-Schriever Garrison of the U.S. Space Force stood up July 24, 2020 and has since furthered the development of a brand-new 21st century service, built to achieve combat effectiveness in, from and through the space domain.

P-S GAR is comprised of mission support and staff units from the former 21st and 50th Space Wings, to include both the 21st and 50th Contracting Squadrons. Together, 21st and 50th CONS embody the garrison’s mission to power global operations through 22 different locations that are home to eight Space Force mission deltas and over 111 Department of Defense tenant units.

 Despite alignment under the USSF the contracting professionals of P-S GAR remain U.S. Air Force service-members and Department of the Air Force civilian employees, providing a unique opportunity for exposure to cross-service mission focused business leadership. As we approach the one year anniversary of P-S GAR, innovative contracting solutions have been crucial to the successful standup of both the new service branch (USSF) and the DoD’s U.S. Space Command, newest combatant command.

Both the 21st and 50th CONS construction flights have spearheaded rapid, cross-cutting construction capabilities such as the Front Range Multiple Award Construction Contract and Joint Forces Paving Contract, taking the procurement lead for multi-state and multi-service organizations. These indefinite deliveries and indefinite quantities (IDIQs) build an expansive operational acquisition culture armed with innovation and expedience in execution. Our local mission-focused business leaders who operate these tools, have been vital to the streamlined buildout of numerous secure compartmentalized information facilities (SCIF) and infrastructure crucial to ongoing global space operations.

Another example that highlights the squadron’s global nature of space operations is the work accomplished by Master Sgt. Mikhail Andrade, 21st CONS, Detachment 1 superintendent stationed at Copenhagen Denmark. Andrade’s ability to rapidly procure floating fuel hose assemblies enables success of the sole fuel offload to Thule Air Base in Greenland during port season 2021. Andrade fine-tuned the requirement with the 821st Air Base Group, secured inter-departmental funding, gained requisite clearances and competitively sourced the long lead items within budget, all while awarding in less than half the normal lead time for a contract action exceeding one million dollars. Without his initiative, the High North mission at Thule AB risked doubling the fuel offload time and incurring additional demurrage costs, as well as the potentially massive environmental and diplomatic impacts of a fuel spill caused by aging equipment.

The criticality of P-S GAR operations has only increased over the previous year as evidenced by activities of private actors and nearpeer adversaries alike in cyberspace and the domain of the ultimate high ground. In May 2021, a group of hackers successfully extorted one of the nation’s largest oil pipelines by crippling its operations via a cyberattack. In space, China’s rocket debris controversy, suspected Russian anti-satellite weapons tests and Iranian orbital aspirations in the past year alone represent just some of the examples of outer space growing not only congested but contested.

21st and 50th CONS’ acquisition professionals are charged with quarterbacking business solutions to enable the wide-ranging set of no-fail missions from custodial to space based surveillance. Over 7 billion people across the globe rely on the uninterrupted success of these operations for banking transactions, efficient agriculture, weather forecasting and, from a military perspective, the effective placement of warheads on foreheads. These examples barely scratch the surface of the impact United States space superiority has for both our modern way of life and war, all of which is upheld through the success of P-S GAR and its mission partners.

Ultimately, these examples just scratch the surface  of the unique opportunities for contracting professionals to exercise cutting edge, mission-focused business leadership with impacts that re-define "aiming high."