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Contracting officer experiences frontline action in Iraq.

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE Sheppard Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base adjacent to Wichita Falls, Texas. It is home of the 82d Training Wing and the 80th Flying Training Wing , home of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) Program. , Texas -- First Lt. Ed Ruckwardt was in his office, wrapping up some contracts he'd worked the previous few days. It was typical of the lieutenant's duties--nothing extravagant or special about the contracts.

But the quietness of the day was interrupted by a loud explosion that made the ground rumble under his feet and his trailer shake. A mortar round landed about 30 yards from his trailer, sending pieces of shrapnel flying like shards of glass through the air.

"There was a Marine already administering first aid to one of the injured individuals," said the lieutenant, deployed from 82nd Contracting Squadron with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's Quick Response Force Contingency Contracting Contracting performed in support of a peacetime contingency in an overseas location pursuant to the policies and procedures of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory System. See also contingency.  office. "I quickly turned my attention to the other injured victim."

Lieutenant Ruckwardt is one of six officers from the Air Force and Navy who are assigned to six major subordinate commands in Iraq. His team approves projects including reconstruction or repair of buildings, office equipment, uniforms, transportation, training and emergency life support for Iraqi security forces Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is the Multi-National Force-Iraq umbrella name for the military and police forces that serve under the Government of Iraq.

The armed forces are administered by the Ministry of Defense (MOD), and the Iraqi Police is administered by the Ministry of
, he said.

The highlight of his job, though, is witnessing the interoperability of sister services.

"Our job as U.S. [servicemembers] is to make the mission happen as one, and so far we have done an amazing job," he said.

The lieutenant has contracted more than $3.5 million in purchases for Iraqi security forces to include the Iraqi police The creation of this unit was guided by the Coalition Provisional Authority however the command of the Police belongs to the new Government of Iraq. Overview
The Iraqi Police Forces are part of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior (MOI) which in conjunction with the Civilian
, national guard, army and highway patrol, plus the border enforcement, public order battalions and facility protection service. He has also assisted in developing Navy Seabee construction contracts worth about $15 million.

Though the lieutenant has been in Iraq since October, his job in the western part of the country is no different than at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The atmosphere, however, is markedly different.

He was on a convoy in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, and the group got caught in some heavy traffic. Normal protocol requires all passengers to get out of the vehicles and set up a security perimeter. Regardless of who they are, the lieutenant said when with the Marines, they are riflemen first. Lieutenant Ruckwardt took his position on one knee next to the vehicle with an ammunition magazine inserted and a round in the chamber.

"At one point, I remember I was on one knee with an M-16, actively scanning, and I thought to myself, 'What am I doing out here? I'm not infantry,'" he said. "Ar Ramadi is one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, and here I was, an Airman, right in the middle of the action."

Serving with frontline units like the 1st MEF MEF Marine Expeditionary Force
MEF Metro Ethernet Forum
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MEF Mobile Entertainment Forum
MEF Middle East Forum (think tank) 
 never entered the lieutenant's mind. But, he said he would not trade what he has learned while with his Marine brothers. "Marines are put in harm's way daily in the most dangerous areas of Iraq without complaining or hesitation," he said. "It has been a great pleasure to serve alongside [them]."

First Lt. Ed Ruckwardt and members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force The largest Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) and the Marine Corps principal warfighting organization, particularly for larger crises or contingencies. It is task-organized around a permanent command element and normally contains one or more Marine divisions, Marine aircraft wings, and  take a break after sweeping an area. The lieutenant's primary job is to purchase items for the Iraqi security forces in the western portion of the country. He's deployed from the 82nd Contracting Squadron Air Force Base, Texas.


John Ingle

82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
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Title Annotation:Airman's World; personal narrative of Ed Ruckwardt
Author:Ingle, John
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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