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January 13, 2012

News

Engineer troop projects improve NCO Academy field site

Story & photos by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Troop projects started by engineer personnel training at Fort McCoy during 2011 helped support and enhance training at the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy field site at Fort McCoy.

The work included removing the student sleeping tents and replacing them with four, 64-foot Southwest Asia (SWA) wooden structures, said Master Sgt. Joshua Shaddox, the NCO Academy operations noncommissioned officer in charge. This work was done by the 302nd Engineer Company, the 668th Engineer Company and the 721st Engineer Company.
PHOTO: Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructors and Warrior Leader Course students plan for a scenario in new facilities at the academy’s field site on South Post. Photo by Rob Schuette
Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructors and Warrior Leader Course students plan for a scenario in new facilities at the academy’s field site on South Post. The wooden structures replaced tents, which could rip, were difficult to heat during cold weather, etc., to better support the training.

Members of the 412th Engineer Company put in ceilings and insulation in the sleeping structures and also built an 80-foot mess facility.

Shaddox said the site originally was constructed in the fall of 2006. The area was arranged by Terry Hoff, Fort McCoy Range officer.

Hoff said he helped NCO Academy personnel identify the right people to talk to and coordinate the desired improvements.
Tents had been kept in place year-round to support Warrior Leader Course (WLC) training and were subject to the weather elements, Shaddox said.

Although some of the tents have been replaced since then, all of the tents were in poor condition when the decision was made to replace them with the SWA huts.

“The tents were virtually unlivable (during inclement weather),” he said. “Terry (Hoff) helped us coordinate our needs and put us in touch with Larry Morrow of Troop Projects.”

Morrow, Troop Projects coordinator, said engineer units did the work during extended training, such as in the Essayons and Warrior Exercise events, at Fort McCoy. Units sometimes did several support projects when they conducted training during the weekends.

PHOTO: An exterior view of the Southwest Asia huts. Photo by Rob Schuette
An exterior view of the Southwest Asia huts constructed at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy field training site to support the Warrior Leader Course.

“The projects engineers do at Fort McCoy give them a well-rounded experience using their equipment and working in their military occupational specialties,” Morrow said. “This work also supports future troops training at Fort McCoy.”

SWA huts were chosen for the upgrade because the structures are considered non-permanent, Shaddox said. They also will provide healthier and safer living conditions. New connexes also have replaced the older ones.

Sgt. Logan Fuller, an NCO Academy small group leader, said the new facilities will help support the WLC field training.

“We were operating out of tents, and they often didn’t stand up against the wind and other weather elements,” he said. “They were very hard to maintain. These structures will help support our training.”

Staff Sgt. Zac Zuehlsdorf, an NCO Academy small group leader, said the new wooden structures will support the placement of heaters in the facilities.

“It was hard for the troops to come out here during the colder-weather months and keep their mind on training,” Zuehlsdorf said. “This will be much better for them and for us.”

Shaddox said the new structures will allow small group leaders to focus on training and ensure everyone attending WLC receives the same training. When it was too cold, troops were brought out of the field and moved back and forth between the field site and the cantonment area instead of staying in the field 24/7 during the field training exercise portion of the WLC.

Replacing the sleeping structure was phase one of the plan. Among the future projects planned/under consideration are building a cadre complex to provide sleep/working/training accommodations, extending student sleeping structures to 80 feet (the same length as the tents they replaced) and the cadre complex will include a 32-foot tactical operations center area and a 32-foot aid station.

Rebuilding a roof over the new connexes will create a briefing area for the sand table preparation areas. Future improvements also include constructing a proper ammunition holding area.

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