[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                    January 25, 2008

Range, Training conference draws hundreds to McCoy

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

      Even snow and the prospect of temperatures steadily declining to the below zero range in the following days did not prevent several hundred military personnel from attending the annual Range and Training Coordination Conference Jan. 17 at Fort McCoy.

Photo: Installation Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj.  M. Kevin Dubois addresses the audience at the annual Fort McCoy Range and Training Coordination Conference. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Installation Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj.  M. Kevin Dubois addresses the audience at the annual Fort McCoy Range and Training Coordination Conference. 
(Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Many of the personnel came from the southern part of the country, according to a show of hands during the briefings. The mission of everyone who showed up was to get the information they needed to ensure their training later this year goes smoothly.

      Installation Deputy Commander Lt. Col. David L. Jessop covered some general information about training at Fort McCoy, including priorities on the ranges and other training areas.

      "Mobilizing and demobilizing troops will have the priority because of their mission," Jessop said. "The installation cares about and will ensure that everyone training at Fort McCoy accomplishes their missions."

      "We have a very professional staff here that will go out of their way to help you," he said. "If you need something all you have to do is ask the staff, and they will do their darnedest to help you get what you need to accomplish the mission."

      The installation also prides itself on its overall safety record. Jessop said units need to think safety at all times and ensure their troops take all the necessary steps, such as completing composite risk management assessments, to help promote safe training.

      Installation Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois said other installation safety information personnel should be aware of are the restrictions on cell phone use while driving, wearing Kevlar helmets at all times in tactical vehicles and requiring two people in an uparmored vehicle.

      Motorists at Fort McCoy cannot use cell phones while driving unless the cell phones are hand's-free models or the motorists come to a stop, he said.

      Two people must be in uparmored vehicles or any other larger vehicles to provide ground guides, etc.

      "(Leaders) need to pay attention to detail and enforce the (Army) standards while you're here training," Dubois said. "If you don't do it here, it's hard to do it elsewhere, such as during a deployment. (Doing things to Army standards) can be a matter of saving a life over there."

      Steve Shanks, the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Training Division chief, said the installation's training tempo will be very busy during the upcoming spring/summer months.

Photo: Michael Perzel III (second from right), the Troop Projects coordinator for Fort McCoy, discusses his program at the training conference. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Michael Perzel III (second from right), the Troop Projects coordinator for Fort McCoy, discusses his program at the training conference. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

     Shanks stressed that units need to remain flexible in their requests for ranges and training areas.

      "We won't be over capacity, and we will do our best to accommodate everyone," Shanks said. "You may not always get the ranges/firing when you want them, but it's important that when you schedule a range you use it during that time."

      Shanks said if units discover they can't train during a specific time frame they need to tell the installation right away so the training areas can be rescheduled. Units also need to take advantage of the Interactive Customer Evaluation system via the Internet or comment cards to tell the installation about the good things it does, what services could be improved and what services are important or what's not important.

      The Range Scheduling Section in building 2113 serves as a one-stop shop for units to get or coordinate everything they need to train at Fort McCoy, said Mark Stelzner, Scheduling supervisor.

      Personnel are encouraged to fill out the required paperwork and ensure it's completed correctly to get the ranges/training areas they want, he said.

      Other topics addressed included new ranges/training enhancements coming on line, new facilities that have been completed since the last conference, such as the Commissary, building 1537, and environmental procedures.

      Terry Hoff, installation Range officer, said beginning in about a month personnel will be encouraged to get their Range Safety Briefings via the Fort McCoy Extranet or via DVDs (Digital Video Discs) before they come to Fort McCoy to train.

      Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Vargas, the battalion supply sergeant for the 396th Combat Support Hospital of Vancouver, Wash., said his unit will participate in the Golden Medic exercise this summer.

      "We come to Fort McCoy to train because it has good training areas and good support," Vargas said. "The briefings helped emphasize how important it is to submit paperwork on time. Fort McCoy has the best customer service."

      1st Lt. Alberto Bonifacio, the training and operations officer for the 3274th U.S. Army Hospital of Fort Bragg, N.C., said his Army Reserve unit will conduct extended combat training at Fort McCoy in September.

      "I liked the consolidated briefing and having all the responsible parties in one place at the same time," Bonifacio said. "It saves the time of having to drive around."

      Maj. Shirley Trya, the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Unit Training Division, and Maj. Michael Magnus of the 646th Regional Support Group of Madison, Wis., will be involved in providing command and control for Operation Platinum Wrench (OPW) this summer.            

      OPW is a USARC-directed exercise that helps Army Reserve maintenance Soldiers get hands-on training.

      The Soldiers assist the Installation Maintenance Materiel Activity staff members in completing their assigned work.

      "The representatives of the units (that will provide manpower) for OPW also are here," Trya said. "We can meet with them and let them know we are here to support them and get a better understanding with the units."

      The units come from Puerto Rico, Texas, California and Minnesota, Magnus said, so the briefing provides them with a one-stop service to get everything coordinated.

      Lt. Col. Tim Maguire, the director of the 2008 Patriot Warrior exercise, which will be held at Fort McCoy and Volk Field this summer, said the exercise will include Army National Guard personnel at Fort McCoy and Air Guard personnel at Volk.

      The joint mission will include the Air Force transporting the Army troops via aircraft, such as the C-17A and C-130 cargo transport aircraft, air drop and resupply missions between Volk Field and Fort McCoy and combat training.

      Some of the Army personnel involved will deploy to Southwest Asia in the future. The exercise also will include simulations of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, he said.

      "This gives the Army personnel training on combat missions," Maguire said. "It also gives the Air Force personnel training on missions we would do to support the Army during combat."

      Maguire said it was very valuable to see how the Army conducted its briefings because he will conduct a similar briefing at Volk Field in the near future.

      Lt. Col. Monica Stafford, a dentist with the 322nd Medical Company of Southfield, Mich., said her unit will be at Fort McCoy to participate in the Global Medic exercise.

      "This briefing is great because it's the little details that can trip you up," Stafford said. "We will attend the Regional Training Site-Medical briefing (Jan. 18) to get more specific information on the exercise."

      For more information about training at Fort McCoy, contact the Range Scheduling Section at (608) 388-3721/3713/5313 or visit the Fort McCoy Extranet, which is available through the Fort McCoy Corporate Network or from the public Web site http://www.mccoy.army.mil.


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