FORT BLISS, Texas -- From trainees to cadre and all positions in between, Mission and Installation Contracting Command employees are supporting the Joint Contracting Readiness Exercise 2013 here today.Of the 377 trainees and cadre in the exercise, 129 are Soldiers in MICC offices and 37 are MICC civilian employees supporting JCRX-13 as teachers, mentors or coaches for the event.The exercise, which began Jan. 13 and runs through Jan. 31, is the Army Contracting Command's annual contracting readiness exercise that trains military and deployable civilian contracting officers in warrior and contracting specific tasks.One of those coaches, Anna Walker, a contracting officer from MICC-Fort Bragg, N.C., went the extra mile in not only providing contracting guidance but also participated in the warrior training tasks alongside the military members she mentors. The warrior training included convoy operations, medical training, vehicle rollover simulations, and simulated weapons training."I'm willing to experience exactly what (the military members) are experiencing," Walker said. "It builds morale between the military and civilians because they see I am not just here to teach them, but also to go through all the same training they do."Another mentor is Ben Rush, a quality assurance specialist from the MICC Contracting Operations Directorate at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Rush educates JCRX trainees about the need for quality assurance professionals."My role is to help these trainees learn to take ambiguity out of contracts and to have measurable performance outcomes," Rush said.It is important for the trainees to learn how to appoint contracting officer representatives and developing quality assurance surveillance plans to specify what a contractor needs to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and this should be written clearly in the performance worksheet."With specific performance standards identifying acceptable quality levels, we can hold contractors feet to the fire in the event standards are not met," Rush added.Bringing realism to the exercise is Michael Walker. As a role player for the exercise, he draws on his profession as a quality assurance specialist at MICC-A.P. Hill, Va., to give JCRX participants a chance to work with fictitious CORs and contractors so trainees learn how to work with many different customers. Walker role plays as a COR to bring realism to the exercise and gives trainees the chance to work with actual contracts as well as individuals fulfilling certain roles involved in the acquisition process."We all work together to correct any weaknesses of the past to ensure what our contracts call for is done based on the contract," Walker said. "We are the watchdogs and stewards of the American taxpayers."Training the next generation of acquisition professionals is the goal of JCRX-13, and part of that generation is Staff Sgt. Jerill Cotton from MICC-Fort Campbell. As a 51C with only five months experience as a contracting specialist, Cotton is one of many trainees new to the career field who require ramped-up training to prepare for worldwide contingency operations.For the exercise, trainees formed regional contracting centers with approximately 10 members in each of the 18 RCCs. Embedded in each RCC are a military and civilian coach and mentor to guide trainees."I did not know what to expect from all of the classroom training we went through. Plus it was great to go through warrior task training as a refresher since I haven't done that since 2007," Cotton said. "I've learned there is so much involved in establishing a contingency contracting office."Coaches also are learning from trainees.Joshua Kaufmann, a coach for RCC-Mobile from MICC-Fort Drum, N.Y., is participating in the exercise for the second year. This was his first opportunity to go through warrior task training, which not only taught valuable life-saving skills but also brought camaraderie to the RCC teams."As coaches and mentors, we are being honest with trainees on their strengths and weaknesses," Kaufmann said. "I am learning just as much as trainees, because as a MICC employee I do not work on weapon system or military construction contracts."
The MICC has more than just mentor-coaches and students at the JCRX. Brenda Clark is the deputy director of MICC-Fort Benning, Ga., assisting the exercise as the MICC liaison officer overseeing all ACC civilian timekeeping throughout the JCRX. Lee Mossolle provides information technology support so all 377 participants can access acquisition programs and so coach-mentors can oversee student performance.Without these programs, contracting professionals cannot do their job, Mossolle said. "This is a great environment for trainees to enhance skills required to do joint contracting overseas and become intimately familiar with the tools of the trade."The MICC is comprised of 35 contracting offices across the United States and Puerto Rico. The MICC provides Army commands, installations and activities responsive contracting solutions and oversight.The ACC 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.