FORT BLISS, Texas -- In a surprise visit Jan. 26 with U.S. Army Contracting Command participants of the Joint Dawn exercise, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald T. Riling, U.S. Army Materiel Command, lauded the Soldiers' efforts in supporting the war fighter in theater.

Speaking before the 80-plus NCOs and officers, Riling commented how he and Gen. Ann Dunwoody, AMC commanding general, were proud of their contributions to the Army and how they should be proud to wear the AMC patch.

He said that once they deploy in theater, the Soldiers shouldn't let anyone intimidate them to change it.

"Be proud to wear the AMC patch," he said. "You're working for AMC and you should be proud of it."

Riling added that he was impressed by all the warrior skills training the Soldiers were undertaking prior to their deployment. He said they should take the training seriously and to ask the "hard questions" before they deploy.

"We're all Soldiers before we do any MOS (military occupational specialty) and we need to know the basics well," he said.

The sergeant major cited recent attacks on Soldiers in Kandahar and how insurgents changed their tactics to inflict injury on U.S. forces. Once in theater, he said the Soldiers should talk with their peers, learn the latest tactics, techniques and procedures and ask what they need to be proficient in.

"I know you're going over there to conduct contracting business," he said, "but you're going from FOB (forward operating base) to FOB and you could get hit. You have to know what to do … how to react."

A combat veteran himself, Riling added that it's critical they be safe and that they can continue with their contracting mission.

"They (Soldiers) depend on 51-Charlies," he said. "If you don't write the contract that makes sense and you don't do the right thing for the Soldiers, the Soldiers will ultimately pay the price."

"I'll tell you right now, the Army really doesn't know what the 51-Charlie series MOS is doing," Riling added. "But that's what you're about to do."

Joint Dawn is the premier contingency contracting pre-deployment mission readiness exercise. This annual exercise brings together a joint, multi-component group of military and civilian contracting professionals and gives them the tools, techniques, and procedures necessary to deploy with confidence and the ability to survive and support the war fighter.