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contract bidding process and are better
prepared to conduct business with the
U.S. government. These events occur in
a non-threatening environment where
potential vendors are able to ask questions
in their native language. Participating
vendors learn how to read and under-
stand a Request for Quote or Request for
Proposal, understand the requirement,
how to submit coherent proposals, how
timelines affect delivery, the importance
of Defense Base Act insurance, and how
to provide invoices and receive payments.
These outreach efforts reduce barriers
to market entry, promote competition,
and develop responsible Afghan vendors
who can compete for contracts at higher
thresholds. They also decrease problems
in the post-award phase of contracts, sig-
nificantly reducing claims and disputes.
The Joint Venture Program uses the
Afghan First program as much as pos-
sible, if necessary through the use of joint
venture agreements to obtain the required
level of expertise. Such agreements provide
mentorship from more experienced firms.
The Bagram RCC has experienced success
with this program, as demonstrated by the
award of a $50 million, multiple-award
contract with two Afghan joint-ventured
firms for a concrete pad. Joint ventures
also allow Afghan companies to achieve
documented past performance so they
can compete for more complex contracts
in the future.
Another endeavor, the Craftsman Proj-
ect, assists trade and craftsmen laborers
in establishing businesses vital to ISAF
and NATO operational requirements,
and provides opportunities to estab-
lish long-term financial stability to
the economy of Afghanistan. The
Craftsman Project is executed through
partnering programs, agency assistance,
and CERP projects. These partnering
programs are intended to establish joint
ventures between Afghan companies
and third-country businesses. As an
example, the Turkish firm 77 Construc-
tion Contracting and Trading Co. has
taken the lead in partnering with many
local Afghan contractors.
Agency assistance also augments this
emerging tactic. The Department of State,
U.S. Agency for International Develop-
ment, and Peace Dividend Trust provide
micro loans to businesses to help build
COIN contracting in Afghanistan is mak-
ing an impact and providing the latitude
to execute direct awards to Afghan ven-
dors in accordance with Section 886 of
the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2008. Afghan First is enabling
a dozen RCCs and their contingency con-
tracting officers to reinvest money in their
geographic areas of responsibility and
thereby develop the economic variable of
the COIN strategy.
From January to March 2011, actions by
the Senior Contracting Official-Afghanistan
RCCs to reduce barriers to market entry
resulted in awards totaling $81.6 million
to Afghan vendors. Barriers have also been
reduced through the creation of new busi-
ness and through mentorship programs,
resulting in the award of U.S. government
contracts to 25 new vendors.
As a result of reducing these barriers,
buying from better people, holding con-
tractors accountable, and the creation of
jobs in Afghanistan, 39,395 Afghans were
employed on U.S. government contracts
during the same 3-month period.
Using money to support the theater com-
mander's strategy in building economic
lines of engagement remains an impor-
tant nonlethal weapon that tips the center
of gravity away from the insurgency.
MAJ CHRISTOPHER L. CENTER is
Deputy Chief of the Bagram RCC, Senior
Contracting Official-Afghanistan at Bagram
Airfield, Afghanistan. He is a Warranted
Contracting Officer for the CENTCOM
Contracting Command. Center holds a B.A.
and M.A. in history from Norwich Univer-
sity and is Level II certified in contracting.
Lt Col Gregory S. Mazul, USAF, Chief,
Bagram RCC, contributed to this article.
AS A RESULT OF REDUCING THESE BARRIERS, BUYING FROM
BETTER PEOPLE, HOLDING CONTRACTORS ACCOUNTABLE,
AND THE CREATION OF JOBS IN AFGHANISTAN,
39,395 AFGHANS WERE EMPLOYED
ON U.S. GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS DURING [A] 3-MONTH PERIOD.
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