Live Free … Buy Hard: Newly redesignated 97 CONS

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amanda Lovelace
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to maintaining a military installation, there are thousands of crucial services and tasks that have to be accomplished to keep the mission going.

Making purchases with a Government Purchase Card and repairing structures, such as a water tower or dining facility, are just a couple important tasks made possible by the newly redesignated 97th Contracting Squadron. 

The 97th Contracting Flight was redesignated as a squadron by Col. Blaine Baker, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, on Aug. 3, 2021. “We were already operating as a squadron would,” said Master Sgt. Christian Ates, 97th CONS senior enlisted leader. “Our mission, manning and capabilities didn’t change. This just allows us to better represent ourselves to the wing.”

The 97th CONS is broken down into three flights, which were formerly elements: the base support flight, construction flight, and infrastructure flight.

The base support flight helps supply items for the base, such as computers, printers, student uniforms, aircraft cleaning compounds, medical equipment, furniture, cold weather gear, KC-46 beddown support, hand sanitizer, a germ zapping robot, engine stands, historical aircraft painting and corrosion control, and more.

“The thirty million dollar base telecommunications service contract also falls under that flight,” said Maj. Jonathan Esquivel, 97th CONS commander. “We handle GPC’s as well, which has a big impact on the base. There are millions of dollars worth of supplies throughout every year that all the units purchase with a GPC. It’s definitely a huge capability that we provide.”

The construction flight handles most of the construction projects that happen throughout the year. A few projects they’ve accomplished this year include Charlie's Lounge interior and pavilion renovations, the running track redesign, and the repair of the water towers and tanks.

The infrastructure flight deals with plans and programs, and handles all service and commodity requirements for the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, such as rubber removal chemicals, pest management chemicals, and generators.

They’re also in charge of the three largest contracts for the installation, which are grounds maintenance, custodial, and refuse and recycle. This is all in addition to smaller services and other projects they manage, like dorm covered parking.

“Think about if you took away all of the supplies from every organization,” Esquivel said. “Then how difficult would it be to accomplish the mission? Now take away everything a contractor does around your facility. Our success as a wing is centered on the collaboration with all units, and contracting has a huge role in that equation.”

Aside from ensuring mission success, 97th CONS plays a major role in the quality of life for Airmen and their families while they’re at Altus AFB.

“We have a direct hand in achieving the wing’s vision for a premiere installation by enabling projects to get done,” Esquivel said. “We purchase quality of life enhancements every year based on leadership's priorities. Some recent and historical purchases include: the rock climbing wall and the new dolphin slide at the pool, road repairs, troop walks, excellence park shades, the club ballroom and the flooring at the dark horse.”

So the next time there’s something new on base, thank the 97th Contracting Squadron!