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Annual pre-deployment exercise attracts joint participation

January 25, 2012

By David San Miguel

FORT BLISS, Texas -- "The simulations were real, the sounds were real -- I left there feeling that I could actually save someone's life," said Capt. Gina Ferguson, 634th Contingency Contracting Team, Fort Riley, Kan., of the training she received during Joint Dawn 2012 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 19- Feb 3.

Ferguson is among the more than 250 military and civilian contracting officers participating in the U.S. Army Contracting Command's pre-deployment joint readiness exercise.

According to Col. Jeff Morris, commander, 412th Contracting Support Brigade, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, part of the Expeditionary Contracting Command, the exercise is designed to enhance the ECC's mission of providing contracting support to Army and other Department of Defense organizations operating outside the continental United States.

Now in its third iteration, the Joint Dawn exercise has expanded to include participation by military and civilian contracting officers from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

Including the other services more, fully exposes participants to how they will operate in a joint contingency environment to support the warfighter, Morris said. "This is a pre-deployment exercise geared toward deployment into the CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) theater of operations working with the CENTCOM Contracting Command."

In addition, the exercise includes combat engagement skills training, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle roll-over egress, tactical combat casualty care, weapons systems familiarization and virtual battle space simulation. Other scenarios challenge participants to ensure they are technically proficient to execute their contracting mission. This includes purchase requests and commitments, close-out actions, commander's critical information requirements, contracting ethics issues and simulated confrontations with disgruntled customers.

Navy Cdr. Michael Curran from the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Acquisitions and Procurement at the Pentagon, added that this was the first time the Navy was invited to participate.

"The Navy and Army have very different cultures," he said. "This exercise is a great opportunity to train and learn how the Army conducts its contracting business to ensure that the warfighter is getting the best that we can provide."

Ferguson agrees. She added that having the other services, the different ranks and civilians included, is a great collaboration.

"It starts building teamwork here and gives us the confidence we need to go into theater and to work with someone we're not normally familiar working with," she said.

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