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Howard Altman: Three Tampa firms win rights to bid on $2.4 billion Army contract

Years of work with special operations forces, like the troops who demonstrated their capabilities in downtown Tampa last month, will help the Tampa company Lukos execute its share of a new $2.4 billion contarct with the Army. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Jun. 28, 2018

In a move that could mean more high-paying defense contracting jobs for the Tampa area, three local firms have been awarded the rights to bid on work through a $2.4 billion Army contract.

Calhoun International and a combined effort by two other Tampa defense firms, Lukos and VATC, were among eight bids nationwide chosen from among 42 proposals to take part in the Army Contracting Command agreement, which will be managed by the Orlando office.

The command is a purchasing arm of the Army. Its motto: "From bullets and beans to tanks, aircraft and ammunition, if a Soldier needs it, ACC buys it."

The contract, projected to be completed by June 2023, allows the eight entities to bid on specific tasks required by the command. The contract is designed to provide and manage training and training assistance for military and civilian needs.

"Winning this contract will help us further expand into conventional Army training," said Lukos chief executive Garth Arevalo, whose company has worked for the past decade with U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.

"We plan to use many of the lessons we have learned supporting special ops to provide training for soldiers and our allies," Arevalo said. "Further, we are currently supporting overseas military missions, but this contract will expand our international training capabilities."

Lukos, with 50 full-time staff plus part-timers, plans on hiring new staff in Tampa, Orlando and elsewhere around the country, Arevalo said.

"Then, we'll wait to see how fast the Army ramps up the contract to determine how many others we'll hire," he said.

Because each company still has to compete for each task issued under the contract, Arevalo said, "it's hard to project what the revenue streams will be at this stage."

But he expects the Army to spend up to $500 million per year on this contract, spread among the eight winning entries.

"We will compete with the other four small businesses and sometimes the three large businesses for this work," he said. "Our team has a great track record of winning lots of work under these types of contracts."

Like Arevalo, Roger Swinford, president and chief executive of Calhoun International, said there are no guarantees but he still expects to increase his workforce of about 100 employees.

"Actual job growth will depend on ability to successfully win a task order, but could mean 20 to 50 additional personnel depending on the Army's requirements," Swinford said.

The company also plans to hire experienced recruiters and accounting support specialists.

Calhoun International, which has been providing management and professional support services to the Department of Defense and other federal customers since 2005, is headquartered in Tampa and has more than 100 employees in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and throughout Florida, Swinford said.

The company will compete on task orders for providing and managing training and training assistance for military and civilian related subjects, Swinford said. The work will involve peacekeeping, natural disaster response, medical response, aviation, socio-political and cultural needs, and institutional training at partner nations' military academies.

Officials from VATC, which partnered with Lukos in its bid, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

•••

The Pentagon announced no new deaths last week in ongoing operations.

There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 50 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel; 54 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; one troop death in support of Operation Joint Guardian, one death classified as other contingency operations in the global war on terrorism; one death in Operation Octave Shield and six deaths in ongoing operations in Africa where, if they have a title, officials will not divulge it.

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

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