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50th Contracting Squadron uses creativity to obtain supplies

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Welch, 50th Contracting Squadron superintendent, distributes cleaning supplies at the 50th Logistics Readiness Flight warehouse at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, April 2, 2020. The 50th CONS secured cleaning supplies for units across the installation to fight against COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Welch, 50th Contracting Squadron superintendent, distributes cleaning supplies at the 50th Logistics Readiness Flight warehouse at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., April 2, 2020. Airmen are becoming resourceful and learning new places to discover much needed cleaning products in order to protect themselves from the potential effects of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) --

Accessing health and medical supplies during COVID-19 continues to burden society, but the 50th Contracting Squadron creates ways to procure the necessary items to complete its mission.

Members of 50th CONS work with the squadrons to ensure they have the items necessary to remain operational and, on April 2, they distributed some of those materials to the 50th Space Wing at the 50th Logistics Readiness Flight’s warehouse.

They’re also contacting commanders around Schriever Air Force Base to determine the consumption rate of supplies and how often 50th CONS members need to make orders.

“Getting the necessary supplies when they’re hard to find is basically our whole job,” said Staff Sgt. Arron Riffle, 50th CONS contracting officer. “A lot of units and a lot of people on base don’t understand contracting. Many people look at contracting like, ‘I need to buy office desks or office furniture.’ But times like these are when contracting shines.”

Members of 50th CONS obtained 384 rolls of paper towels, dozens of bottles of hand sanitizer, gloves, scrubs, masks and other supplies. This required creativity from the Airmen.

“Everyone is looking for cleaning supplies, but not everyone looks for shop towels in the automotive section,” Riffle said. “(We have to) find solutions that are going to be viable but also won’t take away important items from people who can use them at their house. It’s been a challenge, but I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

The unit also relied on their contacts to assist in providing the base with medical supplies and other materials. Staff Sgt. Glinnis Thompson, 50th CONS contracting specialist, “scoured nearly half of America” to find cleaning and medical items in stock.

“Staff Sgt. Thompson is the hero of this,” Riffle said. “That guy has been working long hours and busting his tail to do all of this.”

Maj. Matthew Fleharty 50th CONS commander, recognized the extra work the Airmen do to ensure the base remains safe.

“Sgt. Glinnis Thompson, Sgt. Arron Riffle, Tech Sgt. (Sean) Holder and Lt. (Nicole) Hall have all been incredible getting those items for the wing,” Fleharty said. “They’ve done an incredible job to make sure our mission partners here at Schriever (AFB) are taken care of to make sure we can fight this virus. We have ninjas in contracting who know how to acquire things and get them rapidly for our mission partners.”

Prior to minimal staff at Schriever AFB, Thompson and other Airmen combed through Colorado Springs to find supplies. Once they exhausted those resources, Thompson made several calls to secure the necessities.

“Everyone’s expertise and knowledge of companies and people who can get things done really helps,” Thompson said. “Contractors bring a lot to the table when they have a repertoire of people they can go to in situations like this.”

Both Thompson and Riffle worked additional hours to help 50th CONS secure items and supplies necessary to complete the mission. This was in addition to their normal schedule, which Thompson said takes at least 36 hours per assignment to complete their tasks, which includes providing operational and specialized acquisitions guidance and support for the 50th SW.

“It’s rewarding to be able to find supplies we can use,” Thompson said. “On a typical day, these products would be easy to source and procure. Now, it’s so much more rewarding to get these items and provide for the base that is crucially in need of what we have. It’s been a great achievement and a lot of hard work.”

 

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