FORT BLISS, Texas -- The Joint Contracting Readiness Exercise kicked off Jan. 16 here to prepare and train the next generation of acquisition professionals from all military services across the Department of Defense for potential contracting challenges associated during deployments in any contingency or hostile location.Sponsored by the Army Contracting Command, this exercise brings together contracting professionals from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to polish contracting skills, share knowledge and practice all policy, procedures and regulations associated with their craft.Experienced acquisition mentors as well as military members who have just returned from deployments will also share insights and knowledge on how to best be ready for upcoming assignments.The exercise runs through Jan. 31, and brings more than 380 new and seasoned contracting professionals together to provide the DOD a trained and cohesive professional contracting force ready to deploy into any contingency operation.Exercise participants will be learning the latest contracting policies and procedures, as well as refreshing warrior skills prudent for austere deployments. Military and DOD civilian students will participate in medical simulations, vehicle rollovers, convoy operations, and engagement skills training. Students will participate in life-like scenarios to fully prepare them for possible real-world situations.This is the fourth year of this exercise, growing from only 34 Soldiers in 2010 to 198 students from every military branch this year.Cicely Simmons, a procurement analyst from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is a coach-mentor for the students. "Coaches are here to provide insight and guidance on how to set up a contingency contracting office," Simmons said. There is a difference between contracting in the United States and contracting in the field, so coaches help students prepare for situations that are "not in the book."Brig. Gen. Ted Harrison, the commanding general of the Expeditionary Contracting Command, is leading the exercise. Col. Tim Strange, the 412th Contracting Support Brigade commander, is the executive director for the exercise."JCRX is crucial to America's military because we must be prepared in a moment's notice to respond to contingencies around the world," Harrison said. "This premier annual exercise ensures our forces are ready and fully trained to deploy forward to perform contingency contracting missions in support of American warriors wherever they may go."