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The catalyst of innovation

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, hosts a meeting inside the contracting building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 14, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, hosts a meeting inside the contracting building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 14, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, prepares to use a virtual-reality system inside the security forces building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 15, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, prepares to use a virtual-reality system inside the security forces building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 15, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, uses a virtual-reality system inside the security forces building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 15, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st Contracting Squadron infrustructure flight commander, uses a virtual-reality system inside the security forces building at Keesler Air Force Base, Missisippi, July 15, 2021. The 81st CONS is responsible for providing contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Spencer Tobler)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The 81st Contracting Squadron enables purchases across the 81st Training Wing by allocating appropriated funds throughout the wing and ensuring they’re being spent efficiently to drive innovation and modernization at Keesler.

“Congress delegates us authority to spend money on their behalf,” said 2nd Lt. Tenisha Austin, 81st CONS infrastructure flight commander. “We use that authority to purchase all of the base’s assets, from the oxygen used by pilots to the aircraft they’re in.”

The 81st CONS uses the Department of Defense’s funds to enhance local infrastructure, upgrade the medical group’s equipment and hire personnel to fill manning voids.

“Our main mission is to provide contractual support to the 81st Training Wing,” said Senior Airman Daniela Garcia, 81st CONS contracting administrator. “We help stimulate the local economy by awarding contracts to small businesses, which in turn strengthens our relationship with our community partners.”

It’s not uncommon that Garcia gets reassurance on just how important her job is as a contract specialist.

“I’ve had people from other squadrons come to my office just to thank me,” said Garcia. “For us, it’s just a repetitive action, but to the squadrons it’s potentially life-saving things that we do.”

As the catalyst for innovation, 81st CONS strives to continue improving the 81st TRW.

“The challenges that contracting presents drive my interest,” said Austin. “The negotiations, documentation and business that goes behind these deals is what I love. It’s humbling to understand how important we are and how we fuel other missions.”