81st Contracting Squadron: If you got it, we bought it
By Lt. Col. David Wilson II, 81st Contracting Squadron
/ Published January 09, 2015
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Contracting Squadron has always been a part of Keesler's distinguished history, even though its designation has changed and the unit's structure is very different. Its mission has remained virtually the same; provide contracting support to the 81st Training Wing, tenant units and other Defense Department missions across the globe.
The restructuring of the Air Force in the 1990s changed contracting and Keesler forever. The 81st CONS was once the base contracting office for what was known then as the Keesler Training Center. The BCO reported to the wing aligned under resource management, but reported to Air Training Command for contractual matters. Prior to the 1990s, the BCO had large buying flights purchasing commodities such as office supplies, pharmaceutical drugs, lawn equipment and other items. The commodities flight consisted of more than 20 people led by Reggie Temple, who is still employed in our squadron today.
Today, many of the buying functions performed by that flight are accomplished through use of the Government Purchase Card program. The GPC program replaced the need for supply units to track and store office supplies as well as automatic purchase programs to restock supplies that were often inaccurate and inefficient.
The BCO also contained other buying flights which executed construction and service acquisitions. Some of those responsibilities are now accomplished by the base operating support contract. The 81st Mission Support Group functions all fall within the scope of the BOS contract now.
In 1992, the ATC revamped Keesler's host unit and the BCO was renamed the 3380th Contracting Squadron. Within that same year, another change was made and the squadron was changed to the 393rd Contracting Squadron. However, that designation would not last long. In 1993, the Keesler Training Center was inactivated and the 81st Training Wing became Keesler's host organization. Air Force headquarters overhauled ATC as Air Education and Training Command and activated 2nd Air Force at Keesler. The 81st CONS was stood up under the 81st Logistics Group, now part of the 81st Mission Support Group.
The BCO of the 1980s was much larger than the 81st CONS is today. However, technological advances and smart business decisions have increased contracting's capabilities to enable the 81st CONS to operate more efficiently. The squadron has deployed its members to support U.S. strategic initiatives and threats across the globe. We sustain the mission of the 81st TRW, support the 403rd Wing, other active Air Force wings, multiple major commands and have implemented several Air Force best practices.
Your contracting squadron has supported Team Keesler since its inception in 1941 and will continue to do so in the future.