FORT BLISS, Texas (March 22, 2016) -- Gunfire and smoke are in the air. Blood oozes out of fresh wounds. Service members and civilians are tense and serious, but respond to the situations with calculated plans and purpose.More than 225 participants of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2016 are learning combat and life-saving skills in realistic scenarios March 22 at Fort Bliss. This training is vital as the American military is called upon to deploy to austere and war-torn zones around the world.The exercise trains contracting professionals across the Department of Defense to succeed while deployed in support of any contingency operation or natural disaster. In addition to honing their contracting skills, participants learn CPR, how to move and care for casualties, proper tourniquet applications, how to provide medical care under fire, and other life-saving skills. In addition, the participants learned how to move in a combat environment, how to recognize unexploded explosives, and how to exit an overturned vehicle."This exercise is truly targeted for skills that you need to know when you are deployed," said Army Lt. Col. Toney Stephenson, a participant in the exercise and the 902nd Contracting Battalion commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. "The reason that it's important is because our primary deployment job is contracting, but there are still incidents that happen and you should know how to react. This doesn't make us infantrymen or medics, but it gives us targeted skills that we need in a deployed environment. This allows us to be part of a deployed team."OCSJX-16, sponsored by the Joint Staff J4, is a training venue that unites joint non-acquisition and acquisition professionals to plan for and execute realistic and effective OCS outcomes. Participants include Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and representatives from the United Kingdom, and other partner nations. The exercise uses a U.S. Southern Command scenario to defend the Panama Canal while providing humanitarian assistance."This training is more important to us because some of us are getting ready to deploy, but also in day-to-day life if someone has a heart attack in the office," said Army Sgt. Maj. Kimala Cox, the 902nd CBN sergeant major and a participant in the exercise. "We are not certified medical people, but we now know what to do in case something serious happens. At the end of this exercise, I am certain that when they deploy they will be able to provide all the training that we learned here."Some of the training will be put to use in deployed environments very soon. Army Sgt. 1st Class Katrina Tolbert, an exercise participant and a contracting specialist with the 904th Contracting Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky, is scheduled to deploy this winter."All the training -- combat skills, basic medical care, vehicle rollover training and [the] leadership course -- will be very useful when I am deployed," Tolbert said. "OCSJX also allows us to build relationships with contracting professionals from other services. Our goal is for us to have a better understanding of how contracting is integrated into all plans and operations, and this exercise prepares us to be able to respond to anything our nation may call us to do, anywhere."OCSJX-16 runs from March 21 to April 8.