More than 500 operational contract support professionals from 40 different government agencies and coalition partners are gathered at Fort Bliss, Texas, for Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command, in conjunction with the Joint Staff, U. S. Northern Command and U.S. Army North, is conducting OCSJX-14 Jan. 7-31. This is the fifth iteration of the annual exercise and the first time it is being sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

"OCSJX-14 focuses on growing the next generation of OCS leaders from all services, and developing the next generation of military leaders who are well versed in all aspects of operational contract support," said Col. Tim Strange, commander of the 412th Contracting Support Brigade and the executive director of OCSJX-14.

The first phase of the exercise involved five days of Warrior Task Training designed to keep contingency contracting officers alive on the battlefield. WTT consists of Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 with the M9 and M16 weapons; rollover training in HMMWV and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles; convoy operations training in the Close Combat Tactical Trainer; and two days of medical skills training.

"The EST is a great experience for Soldiers," said Maj. Barry Williams, a contracting officer with ACC - Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., "It allows Soldiers, airman, Marines and sailors to see how they're shooting, even better than a real range. This computer screen tells you exactly where you're hitting and what you're doing wrong -- it's just a great system overall."

Although all military CCOs have a number of required annual warrior tasks, the facilities at Fort Bliss allow OCSJX-14 participants, including civilians, to utilize specialized simulators and trainers not available at most installations.

"It's amazing," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Barry Bredell, contract specialist with 56th Contracting Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "The HEAT training was what I was looking forward to the most, The HMMWV are not vehicles the Air Force normally travels in so this was exciting to get a chance to train on."

The second phase of OCSJX-14 focuses on topics unique to contingency operations, specifically a NORTHCOM natural disaster scenario. Exercise participants are role-playing the DOD response to an earthquake along the New Madrid fault line resulting in heavy damage to eight multi-state regions.

"By bringing all these agencies together now and ironing out the details, we can be prepared in the event this natural disaster were to occur," said Col. Mike Hoskin, division chief, Operational Contract Support and Services at the Joint Staff.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians are assigned to 10-to-11 person regional contracting centers. Each RCC has a mix of participants with a varying degree of skills and experience to simulate the joint environment CCOs operate in.

The second phase also provides instruction on contingency acquisition policy, ethics, procurement fraud, payment procedures, paperless contracting files, the Contracting Officers' Representative Tool, public affairs, and the Joint Contingency Contracting System.

You can follow along with OCSJX-14 online at