Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
Observer-Controller-Trainer (OCT) is not just a Soldier walking
shoulder-to-shoulder with mobilizing Soldiers going through training
at Fort McCoy in preparation to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. John Burnor explains
the Operation Warrior Trainer Observer-Controller-Trainer
program to demobilizing Soldiers from the 201st Engineer
Battalion of Kentucky.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
serve a very distinct instructorís role as the trainees sprint
through a simulated village, guns blazing with blank ammunition fire
or actual live fire.
Sgt. John Burnor, one of two Operation Warrior Trainer (OWT)-OCTs with
the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, said, "In our training
of mobilizing Soldiers at Fort McCoy, we give them an edge by
stressing safety and awareness so they will be able to protect
themselves and their fellow Soldiers while in combat, and for them to
get back home safely."
Maj. Jacqueline McRae, the senior OWT-OCT Coordinator, said, "The
advantage to Soldiers in the OWT-OCT program is mobilizing Soldiers
receive hands-on realistic training, which enhances their knowledge
and skill that benefits them when they deploy to a hostile
environment. The training our OCTs provide is to help Soldiers become
proficient in performing their missions."
said mobilizing Soldiers get to learn from Soldiers who already have
acquired these combat skills and life experiences. "Soldiers
overseas rely on us to send quality and well-trained Soldiers as
part of the OWT-OCT program, McRae and Burnor also recruit
demobilizing Soldiers returning from theater to McCoy. These Soldiers
are trained to use the experience and knowledge they gained in those
specific theaters. First Army conducts the OWT-OCT program at 10
installations, Fort McCoy being one of them.
program, in existence at McCoy since November 2005, allows redeployed
Soldiers to voluntarily remain on active duty to train mobilizing
Soldiers to Army standards. McRae and Burnor try to conduct a briefing
on the first day of the five-day demobilization process at the Soldier
Readiness Center to inform Soldiers of the program and to further
explain the benefits of this program.
Soldier candidates return throughout the five-day period to contact
McRae and Burnor for possible entry into the OWT-OCT program.
primarily learn about the program during the demobilization process,
although First Army promotes the program to Soldiers while they still
"The advantage to Soldiers in the OWT-OCT program is
mobilizing Soldiers receive hands-on realistic training, which
enhances their knowledge and skill ..."
Maj. Jacqueline McRae,
Senior OWT-OCT Coordinator,
181st Infantry Brigade
Soldier only has three to five days from the time they return to the
states to determine if they want to remain on active duty as an OWT
instructor," McRae said. "But the program does allow for a
Soldier to join the program up to 180 days from the time they return
to the states, itís just much simpler if they do it while still on
duty and in the demob process at the demob station."
OWT-OCT Soldier may volunteer for a one-year tour of duty that is
extendable for one more year. Soldiers considered for OCT positions
are reserve-component personnel in the ranks of staff sergeant through
master sergeant, warrant officers 1-3 and lieutenants, captains and
said interested Soldiers are interviewed regarding their combat
experience. Soldiers must meet Army regulations and standards.
Soldiers have an option to elect duty at other Army installations or
at Fort McCoy.
OWT-OCT candidates at McCoy will meet with the 181st Infantry Brigade
command sergeant major as part of the selection process. Based on the
interview and the needs of the brigade, new OCTs are placed in areas
of their expertise, such as urban operations, convoy operations,
weapons live-fire exercises, combat life saver, combatives, OPFOR
(opposing forces role players) and some cultural role players
selection into the program, regardless of duty location, is decided by
the training support brigade command sergeant major. Once selected,
the new OCT will go through a two-week OCT trainer course and attend
combat life saver classes.
181st conducts mobilization training at McCoy. McRae said there are
more than 300 authorized OWT-OCT positions at Fort McCoy. First Army
has several thousand positions throughout their training sites.
said he had trained at McCoy in July 2007 prior to being deployed to
Iraq and that, "the caliber of training I received from those
OCTs was very high. It was very serious training that gave me a sense
and feeling of what I would experience when I deployed overseas. I
performed route clearance duties in Baghdad and Sadr City, and
understood how to intermingle with local people. The training I got at
McCoy was important because it gave me an expectation of the
environment, weather, terrain and culture I was about to
returned in July 2008," Burnor said, "and am one of the two
OWT-OCT recruiters, with Sergeant Major McRae, at the 181st. The
OWT-OCT program is important because we get the right skills to the
mobilizing Soldier, a Soldier who wants to get the training and help
other Soldiers. A key to our program is Soldiers helping Soldiers.
(Michele is a public
affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for
CONUS Support Base Services.)