|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
April 22 marked the end of Airmen coming to Fort McCoy to receive
specific, in-theater mobilization training prior to deploying in support
of overseas combat contingencies, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was mission complete for the U.S. Air Force administrative support
staff at Detachment 7, 602nd Training Group, Second Air Force, at Fort
McCoy. A few days earlier, the last Joint Sourcing Training Oversight
(JSTO) class completed its mobilization training, departed for their
individual home stations and their deployments to Operations New Dawn
(OND) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) missions.
Air Force administrative
personnel from Detachment 7, 602nd Training Group, reflect in
their final minutes at their Fort McCoy administrative office.
The Army discontinued the JSTO mobilization training at Fort
McCoy, transferring it to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Fort McCoy statistics show 10,597 servicemembers completed JSTO
mobilization training at Fort McCoy from Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, the
first year JSTO training was provided, through FY 2011. That includes
several hundred Navy and 40 Coast Guard personnel.
It was a very successful operation, Air Force Maj. Laura King said. King
served as the detachment commander for the unit’s final months at McCoy.
“Airmen learned combat skills not traditionally taught to Airmen. They
trained on large-caliber weapons, up to the M2 .50-caliber heavy machine
gun, and the newer mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. They went
through convoy and base-defense training.”
“It was all very important so the Airmen could survive in a combat area
and provide the combatant commander with the best-trained personnel
possible,” King said. “The JSTO program has been great for the Air
Force. It will continue at Fort Polk, La., Camp Atterbury, Ind., and
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The McCoy JSTO program now moves
to Fort Bliss, Texas.”
“The purpose of the JSTO program is for both the Army and the Air Force
to know what each service’s capabilities bring to the fight,” King said.
“We appreciate the tremendous support from the Fort McCoy garrison and
the 181st Infantry Brigade who bent over backwards to help us. They were
very responsive providing training for us. They assisted the Air Force
in providing fully capable Airmen to the combatant commanders in
Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. The Air Force and the
Army are charged with taking care of our Airmen and Soldiers to ensure
they are fully trained and cared for and capable of performing their
missions. I am absolutely proud of the skills the Air Force learned and
the very valuable lessons at Fort McCoy to prepare Airmen for combat.”
Three Airmen from the final JSTO class provided some of their views.
Lt. Col. A.J. Bischoff, commander, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron,
Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., said one of the Air Force’s top
priorities is to join and win the fight the United States is engaged in.
“It has been very vital for Airmen to communicate, navigate, shoot and
treat,” he said. “Our primary purpose enables deploying teams and units
to enhance team-building and leadership to go downrange,” Bischoff said.
“As a commander, the training we received at Fort McCoy gives me a level
of confidence that our Airmen are prepared to handle a majority of
contingencies in combat situations. That also gives us a level of
assurance to operate civil-engineer missions including conventional
trades construction, firefighting, emergency operations and management,”
“The training at Fort McCoy gives us the assurance to deploy in harm’s
way while also performing civil engineer tasks,” Bischoff said. He said
he even helped support U.S. Marine operations on a previous tour.
“The personnel and instruction at Fort McCoy were extremely
professional,” Bischoff said.
“We had good facilities, equipment and current and relevant combat
instruction. The trainers and support staffs had positive attitudes and
were highly motivated. They were always smiling. Maintenance issues were
rapidly fixed. We were able to use the fitness center for our unit
physical fitness training.”
“We want to express our thanks to Fort McCoy for the way they prepared
our Airmen for combat deployment,” Bischoff said. “We hope other Army
mobilization stations provide the same great training for Airmen as the
quality cadre, staff, facilities and support that we received at Fort
Chief Master Sgt. Chad Brandau, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron,
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., said it was nearly 80 degrees when
he arrived at Fort McCoy, but then the temperature got down to the low
“We had rain, sleet and snow during some of our weapons live-fire
qualification,” he said. “So, we have had a full spectrum of weather.
But Mother Nature was really a great training tool.”
“That made us adapt as we needed to take along the proper clothing
equipment to daily classes and exercises,” Brandau said.
“That helped our Airmen learn to load properly for combat. The training
meant we will continue our joint expeditionary training to be able to
dust-off perishable wartime and warrior skills and become both competent
warriors and construction craftsmen,” Brandau said.
“It was vital for us to come to Fort McCoy to hone those warrior skills
so we will support the war effort downrange,” Brandau said. “That all
made Fort McCoy special to us. Most of the Air Force doesn’t have the
weapons firing ranges, fleets of combat vehicles, opposing forces
personnel, situational training ranges and combat-experienced
observer-controller-trainers that Fort McCoy offers.”
Lt. Col. Jose Rivera, 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron, United Kingdom,
said, “The training we received at Fort McCoy exceeded our expectations.
Our Airmen will now be much better able to execute their missions. They
learned about the proper posture to perform under fire and under extreme
conditions outside of their comfort zone.”
“It was great training for our younger Airmen and it was the first time
our junior officers could lead their fellow Airmen in combat-like
conditions,” Rivera said.
“Both Lieutenant Colonel Bischoff and I have had four combat tours,” he
“The Fort McCoy training was an eye-opening experience in the joint
operating environment, structure, organization, culture and vocabulary
that we will be supporting the Army in in-theater.”
“Airmen normally just are responsible for operations on their own base,”
“Now we will be going outside of the wire and working on projects in the
battle space. This Army training is like a life-insurance policy for
your Family, as Airmen and Soldiers learn the skills and mindset of the
warrior — shoot, treat, communicate, navigate — that’s what it’s all