JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- (March 7, 2016) Mission and Installation Contracting Command acquisition and support personnel will be participating in an annual operational contract support exercise March 21 to April 8 at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The MICC is providing more than 90 people for both exercise support and training. More than half of these individuals will be trainees, and the remaining personnel will be part of a cadre providing exercise support.

"Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise-2016 is the Department of Defense's premier operational contract support event," said C.T. Fortune, a MICC plans officer. "The exercise develops integrated planning products, trains the workforce and increases senior leader awareness. Participants gain the tools and confidence necessary to succeed while deployed to support any contingency operation or natural disaster."

In addition to MICC participants, the exercise involves service members and civilians from all branches in the DOD, coalition partners from three partner nations, and coordination with interagency and defense combat support agencies.

This year's exercise features a new wrinkle. For the first time during an OCSJX, an Army service component command and a maneuver division will train with DOD acquisition professionals on contract support integration and contractor management functions to further their OCS readiness.

"For the first time in an OCSJX, we have arranged for a significant warfighter presence to train with acquisition, financial management and judge advocate professionals," Col. Joshua Burris, the OCSJX-16 executive director and Army lead, said.

U.S. Army South and 1st Armored Division staff will form an operational contract support integration cell. The OCSIC will interact with its primary staffs to develop OCS processes and critical staff thinking in contract support integration and contractor management under a U.S. Southern Command PANAMAX scenario. PANAMAX is an annual multi-national exercise that promotes interoperability and builds participating nation capability to function as part of a multi-national force focusing on the defense of the Panama Canal.

"Planning today provides options for tomorrow," said Lt. Gen. Gustave Perna, the Army deputy chief of staff, G-4. "The upcoming OCSJX will provide us a great opportunity to exercise and synchronize multiple staff elements. Additionally, our partner nations' participation in the exercise will set the foundation for enhanced cooperation, interoperability, and security throughout our area of responsibility."

Exercise personnel will focus on a scenario to incorporate contracted support across the services and to its Central and South American partners to further interoperability. OCSJX will train service component commands and other major force headquarters that may be designated as a joint task force to better integrate contracted support into operational access missions to preserve national interests or provide humanitarian or disaster relief.

Under the contracting support bucket of OCS, the 418th Contracting Support Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, will operate as a deployed senior contracting official organization, providing mission command and control over contracting units. The brigade will consist of three regional contracting centers, each of which has three regional contracting offices conducting pre- and post-award execution and contract and contractor management.

The 418th CSB will also perform as the lead service for contracting, coordinating theater-wide contracting support for the joint force commander. The brigade, contracting battalions and contracting teams will use the automated web-based system Joint Training Information Management System to train under a variety of situations and with a large number of requirements and deployed operational issues. This system will train units on mission essential tasks and enhance readiness objectives through observer/trainer observations and feedback.

"We believe and hope our trainees and participants will better understand that operational contract support is not contracting, but that OCS is a team sport of complementary non-acquisition and acquisition professionals, planning and integrating contracted support into the joint force commander's mission, to ensure effects support strategic and operational needs," Burris said.

"OCSJX is our Super Bowl!" exclaimed Col. Nancy Spencer, the Army South G-4. "The exercise integrates planning and key processes for contract support integration, contracting support, and contractor management. I am confident that all those involved, especially our planners, will make this a great training event for the entire DOD."

Headquartered on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, the MICC is an organization of more than 1,500 military and civilian members responsible for contracting for Soldiers. In fiscal 2015, the command executed more than 36,000 contract actions valued at more than $5.2 billion across the Army, including $2.25 billion to American small businesses. The command also managed more than 600,000 Government Purchase Card Program transactions in fiscal 2015 valued at an additional $747 million.