Joint Dawn 2012 wraps up
February 13, 2012
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FORT BLISS, Texas (Feb. 13, 2012) -- "Joint Dawn 2012 is the beginning, not the end of your preparation to deploy," said Heidi Shyu, acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, via a video message to the exercise participants, Jan. 27.
Entering into the final phase of the two-week mission readiness exercise, Shyu also encouraged the participants to continue their efforts to support the war fighter and to anticipate those challenges that lay ahead -- "to understand the environment in which they'll be deployed -- the culture, the low literacy rate, a developing banking system and the fractural infrastructure that will impact their ability to produce quality contracts."
According to Brig. Gen. Joe Bass, commanding general, Expeditionary Contracting Command, or ECC, it's a tall order but one which the planners took into account when they formulated then conducted the first exercise in January 2010, only two years after the ECC was established.
Now into its third iteration, Joint Dawn 2012, held from Jan. 19 to Feb. 3 at Fort Bliss, has grown from an initial 34 participants to more than 250.
This year, in addition to a contingent of Army Contracting Command and ECC personnel, the exercise included a mix of military and civilian contracting professionals from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army Reserve and Army National Guard to simulate joint regional contracting centers supporting U.S. Central Command missions abroad.
During the initial phase of the exercise, participants were given extensive warrior skills training to better equip them to survive and operate in a hostile environment. This entailed weapons familiarization and qualification, survival training, convoy operations and medical skills training.
"The better we train our folks, just like any function in the Army, the better they will be able to support the war fighter, whether it be logistics or war fighting or contracting," Bass explained. "We want to give them the best training possible -- the most realistic training so that they're better prepared to do their mission when they get forward deployed."
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mike Curran, office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (acquisition and procurement), agreed. He said the exercise gave him "a good idea of what he might expect while deployed."
Curran noted that the contracting scenarios presented were developed based on actual occurrences in Afghanistan.
These reality-based training scenarios coupled with a high operational tempo "gives us the confidence to face whatever comes our way," he said. "In addition, it offered us an opportunity to train alongside our Army counterparts."
A main tenant of the exercise is to have the services train in a joint environment much like they would operate in support of contingency missions abroad.
"It's the same environment they're going to operate in when they go into theater," Bass said. "So, we wanted to expose them to working with the other services and civilians so that it's not new to them when they get there."
Rear Adm. Althea H. "Allie" Coetzee, executive director with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Acquisition and Procurement, added that though most of the Marines and Sailors have experienced deployment, this exercise offered those that hadn't an opportunity to "see what the other services bring to the table."
She recommended those few who hadn't yet deployed to take full advantage of this unique opportunity.
"Take advantage of the resources available to you," she said. "Take advantage of the other services, partner with them. Work with them and learn from them."
"We all wear the uniform," Curran said. "We all serve our country and support the war fighter. We need to work together to ensure they get the best we can provide."
Kim D. Denver, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (procurement), agreed. He visited with the exercise participants and delivered some words of advice to those pending deployment.
"Contracting is a team sport and it takes a team to make sure you accomplish the mission," he said. "And as we're executing our contracts, let's make sure we're providing that Soldier what he needs for mission success.
"It is the Soldier that is executing the mission," he said. "That's where our focus should be."
Denver also advised the participants to "remain diligent." He cited the multitude of changes in how business is conducted "what the press is saying, what those outside our environment are saying about us and what they're saying about Afghanistan."
"You're on the front lines and it doesn't matter whether it's in contracting or outside," he said. "We are the stewards of the taxpayers' dollars and we have to make sure we protect those interests and protect the reputation of the U.S. government. Contracting is critical, set the standard in all that we do."