[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        April 24, 2009
News

181st commander: Fort McCoy a great platform for conducting training

By Col. Michael A. Todd, 181st Infantry Brigade Commander

Fort McCoy has proven to be a great platform upon which to conduct pre-mobilization through post-mobilization training in support of the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) process.

Photo: An observer-controller-trainer (right) from the 181st Infantry Brigade evaluates how well a fire team hastily departs a fire area. (File Photo)
An observer-controller-trainer (right) from the 181st Infantry Brigade evaluates how well a fire team hastily departs a fire area. (File Photo)

ARFORGEN divides units into three ‘pools’ of forces — Reset and Train, Ready, and Available. As shown in the corresponding graphic on page 8, reserve-component forces are on a six-year ARFORGEN cycle with years one through four being in Reset and Train, year five in Ready and year six in Available. This includes those training events that have traditionally been associated with Fort McCoy to include extended- combat training and battle-assembly weekends and corresponds to ARFORGEN years one through five for reserve-component forces — Reset and Train and Ready Pools.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Fort McCoy has become an increasingly important platform to mobilize units from Title 11 (U.S. Army Reserve) and Title 32 (National Guard) to Title 10, active-federal status. These units are trained during post-mobilization, which corresponds to the beginning of year six followed by the remainder of the year being deployed in support of the Long War (overseas contingency operations) in Iraq, Afghanistan or other locations as part of the Available Pool.

The 181st Infantry Brigade, a training support brigade of Division West, First Army, has the mission to conduct the post-mobilization training and subsequently validates units for these deployments at Fort McCoy. In addition to the training provided to the National Guard and Army Reserve, the brigade provides joint training readiness oversight of Air Force and Navy units and pre-deployment and emergency medical technician training.

Photo: Sgt. Travis Blackborn Jr., an observer-controller-trainer for the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion, 181st Infantry Brigade makes a point during Humvee Egress Assistance Training at Fort McCoy. (File Photo)
Sgt. Travis Blackborn Jr., an observer-controller-trainer for the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion, 181st Infantry Brigade makes a point during Humvee Egress Assistance Training at Fort McCoy. (File Photo)

In order to complete the 181st missions, the brigade is organized into four training support battalions: 3rd, 335th Training Support Battalion (TSB); 1st, 338th TSB; 3rd, 340th TSB; and 1st, 340th TSB; a logistical support battalion, the 2nd, 411th Logistics Support Battalion (LSB); the Medical Training Battalion (MTB); and a separate brigade headquarters company.

All of the battalions contribute to each training unit achieving the requirements outlined in the Southwest Asia Training Guidance and other documents. The 1st, 340th TSB is the primary unit that provides joint training readiness oversight of Air Force and Navy units. It also assists Army Reserve and National Guard units to finish the remnants of pre-mobilization tasks for small numbers of Soldiers after they have mobilized.

The 3rd, 335th and 1st, 338th TSBs train and validate Army Reserve and National Guard units at the company level and below on post-mobilization tasks to include mission rehearsal exercises (MREs) for these units.

The 3rd, 340th TSB conducts MREs for battalion and brigade level units, with the 181st Brigade or Division West being the validating authority with input from the garrison for these units to deploy into theater. The primary types of units for the current mobilization cycle are engineer brigades and battalions although there are numerous other types that also will be trained here.

 The 2nd, 411th LSB supports the rest of the brigade’s training by providing opposing forces and cultural role players. In addition, it also conducts specialty driver’s training that includes rough-terrain driving and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected familiarization when these high-demand vehicles are available. The MTB trains and certifies medics as emergency medical technicians and completes specialty pre-deployment medical training. We appreciate the teamwork provided by Regional Training Site-Medical by loaning some equipment to the MTB to train servicemembers. The 181st also has several close partners in the endeavor to prepare Citizen-Soldiers and units for employment in- theater. Our primary partner is the Fort McCoy garrison. The garrison Soldiers and employees provide excellent logistical billeting, dining, laundry and other high quality-of-life facilities as well as maintaining ranges and maneuver areas upon which we train. The Mobilization Support Team is absolutely essential to the process since these folks bring our Citizen-Soldiers from Titles 11 and 32 and inprocess them into the active force on Title 10.

We also have a special relationship with the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., since our current mission cycle is concentrated on training engineer units. We coordinate closely with Regional Training Center-North at Fort McCoy, (which conducts premobilization training for Army Reserve units and personnel) to share Fort McCoy ranges so we all achieve our training objectives. The 181st also frequently consults with the Center for Army Lessons Learned through its local representative, Scott Frosh, to ensure the latest lessons from the theater are incorporated into our training.

The National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve have recently increased completion of premobilization tasks in order to shorten post-mob training time. This has resulted in post-mobilization training time being cut nearly in half.

The 181st Infantry Brigade is justifiably proud of what it does to support the nation in the Long War in conjunction with our partners and fantastic Citizen-Soldiers. In addition, we also are very proud that the 181st Infantry Brigade’s current mission of direct support to the nation at war is the longest sustained effort in the entire history of Fort McCoy.

 

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