FORT BLISS, Texas-During the initial stages of Army Contracting Command's Joint Contracting Readiness Exercise 2013 here, senior military leaders ' uniformed and civilians ' conducted professional workshops to offer their advice and counsel to officers, noncommissioned officers and civilians participating in this year's event.

"The Army 1102 civilians (contracting officers) are absolutely essential to our ability to train and develop their military 51C (military contracting officers and NCOs) teammates," said Bryan Samson, Expeditionary Contracting Command deputy to the commanding general. "Integrating our Soldiers into the installation and center contracting structures, in the states and overseas, is the best method to provide rotational, hands-on contracting opportunities."

Samson conducted the civilian professional development session during this year's exercise.

"I am both proud and appreciative of our civilian contracting workforce. None of our civilian contracting professionals have position descriptions requiring them to train our military contracting personnel," Samson said.

"They are busy supporting the many ACC customer activities, which is a full-time job in and of itself.

"They invest in our Soldiers because they believe it is important, because they want to make a positive difference in our Army and because they are committed to the Army contracting team," he said. "In return, our 51Cs can provide workload capacity and capability to the local contracting offices."

According to exercise planners, the exercise was a highly realistic challenge, designed to prepare joint military contracting personnel to deploy and perform their procurement missions under demanding conditions.

Samson said the civilian volunteer cadre is a mission-critical asset for preparing military participants to execute all phases of contracting in an efficient, effective and legally compliant manner.

"The 51C provides contracting support at home station, during contingency operations, at training and readiness exercises, and during combat operations," he said. "They provide a unique capability to the Army.

"As we know, our service's slogan is - Army Strong," Samson said. "I submit that our 51C formation adds strength to the Army and our civilian contracting professionals add strength to our contracting Soldiers."