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TACO works to meet needs of SFOR

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#112, May 3, 2001

In fiscal year 2000 alone, 48,000,000 KM was spent on 4,000 actions toward providing goods and service for SFOR facilities.
If you want to know where the money went, it was most likely spent by the Theatre Allied Contracting Office.
TACO provides contracting support to all SFOR facilities including Zagreb, Banja Luka, Split and Doboj.
Its customers also include any concessionaires not operated by the Morale and Welfare Activity or owned by individual countries.
There is one misconception about TACO - people shouldn't come to them asking for funds. "We don't have any money, we spend people's money," said US Air Force Capt. Michael Knipper, chief of Construction and TRANSCOY Requirements section. "The folks who need to buy something need to see their fund manager first - they hold the purse string for the organisation."
TACO, which falls under CJ8, is made up of three sections: Services and Commodities, Construction and TRANSCOY Requirements and Customs and Administration.
The Services and Commodities branch handles Psychological Operations and the Mine Information Co-ordination Cell. If the mine cell needs dogs for de-mining operations or equipment, requests go through this office.
All consumable commodities and utilities - water, electric and gas - are also taken care of here. In short, just about everything that isn't construction-related goes through Services and Commodities. This section processes the most actions but brings in less money than the other branches.
United States Air Force Capt. Todd Joyner heads this section and works with five local civilians.
Construction and TRANSCOY Requirements handles just what its title states. Knipper and the three local civilian buyers run this branch.
TRANSCOY is the biggest customer of TACO. Everything associated with TRANSCOY vehicles - fuel, repair and purchases - fits into this category.
Although TACO's main goal is to provide SFOR with goods and services, Knipper said it also provides theatre infrastructure improvement.
"We feed the warfighters, we give them shelter and we also look to the future," he said. "This is what we envision from the construction standpoint: one day when SFOR leaves, the University of Sarajevo or another educational institution should be able to come on this base and use every building that was built here.
"That's our mission - to walk away and leave a sound infrastructure at Butmir (because) we will turn this property over to the city once SFOR leaves and we want to leave something of value," Knipper explained.
Italian Warrant Officer Vito Luprano leads the last section - Customs and Administration. A French sergeant and two local civilians assist him. This office is responsible for all shipments of goods in and out of BiH, contract payments, contact closets and database management.
At the head of these three branches is Jure Bevanda, chief of TACO. He is a US citizen who speaks the local language.
These sections work hard to ensure customer satisfaction and it's accomplished.
The success is contributed to what is considered TACO's most valuable asset: the civilian employees.
"Not only do they bring their contracting expertise and experience to this region, but their knowledge of the companies in this area," Knipper said. "We come and go on three-, four- or six-month rotations, we provide the military presence but the folks who do the work are the civilians.
"They provide a lot of stability year in year out," Knipper said.
While TACO satisfies its customers, that doesn't meant there aren't any challenges, said US Air Force Maj. George Budz, theatre head of contracting. "Most customers are military and come from different countries," he said. "Each one has their own way of doing business and their ways don't always comply with NATO rules."
Budz explained that this could be frustrating to those not accustomed to working in a NATO environment. Everyone is used to doing things the way they're done in his or her own country, so adjustments have to be made.
In this type of operation, the constant rotation of personnel poses another hardship, Budz said. "As soon as they understand how the process works and it gets easy, they get replaced and we start the whole process all over again - that's the most challenging part."
Ultimately, the customers are happy, Budz said. And that's the most important part.

Related link: Miscellaneous