[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                 February 27, 2009
Training

Brigade Combat Team highlights 
2008 mob training

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

The highlight of the successful 2008 mobilization effort at Fort McCoy was the mobilization of the 81st Brigade Combat Team, said Col. Bas Oskam, deputy of mobilization.

Photo: Soldiers sprint into a village while others provide protective cover fire during an urban warfare training exercise during mobilization preparation. (File Photo)
Soldiers sprint into a village while others provide protective cover fire during an urban warfare training exercise during mobilization preparation. (File Photo)

Oskam, who coordinates the mob support program, said, "The 81st Brigade Combat Team, from the Washington State Army National Guard, plus elements from the California Army National Guard, trained about 3,500 Soldiers."

"We had been refining our support plans and procedures with battalion-sized units like the 201st Engineer Battalion mobilizing through Fort McCoy earlier in the year," the deputy of mobilization said.

"The year saw other major changes as Fort McCoy increased its capacity to support the mobilization and demobilization season," Oskam said. "Many of the training ranges were improved. Troop barracks and administration buildings were rehabilitated. Several dining facilities and classroom buildings also were rehabilitated."

New facilities were added at both Contingency Operating Location (COL) Freedom and COL Liberty, "significantly increasing our quality and ability to feed large groups of Soldiers. The new dining facilities also serve as large classrooms," he noted.

"With our team of contractors, we modified our support contracts ensuring quality improvements, support, transportation, logistics and services. We increased our hours of operation to be similar to what Soldiers will encounter in-theater."

"The Army pushed to condense the number of training days a unit is at the mobilization center," Oskam said. "The Army wanted most of the 400 days a reserve-component Soldier is mobilized to be in-theater. So, our force generation model for the sustained mob process was made more efficient and still achieves the high standards of training."

Oskam said, "A key element in our mob process is the joint force with the Air Force and Navy units mobilizing at Fort McCoy, as their personnel are augmenting the Army. Fiscal Year 2009 will see an increase in Air Force personnel training here.

Photo: Soldiers provide defensive fire from a Humvee during a combat patrol exercise while at Fort McCoy for mobilization training. (File Photo)
Soldiers provide defensive fire from a Humvee during a combat patrol exercise while at Fort McCoy for mobilization training. (File Photo)

The Air Force sees Fort McCoy as a great place to train their Airmen for specific missions in-theater."

"The 181st Infantry Brigade trainers have a great reputation and the Air Force and Navy leadership want to learn from the experience of the 181st McCoy Team.

There are four major areas that contributed to the success of the 2008 mob effort, Oskam said.

"One was the ongoing effort to rehabilitate troop barracks, dining facilities and administration buildings. Our standard of living is significantly better than 2002 and 2003," Oskam said.

"The second area was the improved training areas and ranges, increasing our capacity to put larger numbers of Soldiers on the ranges while maintaining high training standards and through-put efficiency," Oskam said.

"The third was the changes in logistics support and warehouse operations," Oskam said. "We significantly reduced the time it took for a Soldier to receive their individual equipment. The medical and dental areas were improved with the rehabilitation and expansion of the Troop Medical Clinic. We improved our transportation system to quickly move Soldiers to and from their training venues."

The fourth area was the importance of the 181st Infantry Brigade that conducts the mob training, according to Oskam. "The 181st made changes in how they conducted training plans and emphasized the latest tactics, techniques and procedures from recent theater events."

"The exit interviews I have had with unit commanders highlight McCoy’s flexibility of support and positive work force."

"Our employees recognize and appreciate what these Soldiers and their families are doing for our country," Oskam said.

"It’s something that struck me when I arrived at Fort McCoy in January 2008, that the work force at McCoy is very positive and patriotic," Oskam said.

"We are now in the process of doing a formal after-action review with the staff to ensure we fine-tune our programs to be more efficient and proactive," Oskam said. "Our biggest challenge is to improve our ability to communicate effectively with units earlier in the mobilization process."

Oskam emphasized the work of Lt. Col. Robert Weisbrod, Mobilization Unit In-processing Center chief. "Lt. Col. Weisbrod and his staff were key planners. They synchronized all the directorates and their staffs toward common objectives."

Oskam said the volume of units for 2009 will increase slightly compared to 2008. "Those numbers could easily go up," he said, "as we increase the number of troop barracks being renovated so we can house more units.

Fort McCoy is a key power-projection platform for the Army,"

Fort McCoy is continuing to serve as a major mobilization-demobilization platform for the U.S. Army. Installation figures show 299 units with 14,303 Soldiers trained at Fort McCoy for mobilization/demobilization in FY2008. Figures also show 1,649 units with 85,469 personnel trained at Fort McCoy for mob/demob from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2008 since the Global War on Terror began.

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)

 

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