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 May 14, 2010

News

Busy mobilization training season projected throughout FY 2010

Story & Photo By Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Fort McCoy is projected to train 19 percent of the nearly 60,000 servicemembers programmed by First Army for mobilization in fiscal year 2010 (FY10), said Col. Bas Oskam, Fort McCoy’s deputy commander for mobilization.

Oskam said that makes Fort McCoy the busiest of the Army’s eight mobilization training centers.
PHOTO: 2nd Lt. Ben Blass stands in the crater pit at a Fort McCoy training area. The crater was created by explosives emplaced and detonated by the 181st Infantry Brigade to create a situation as realistic as possible for the engineers for mobilization training. Photo by Tom Michele
2nd Lt. Ben Blass stands in the crater pit at a Fort McCoy training area. The crater was created by explosives emplaced and detonated by the 181st Infantry Brigade to create a situation as realistic as possible for the engineers for mobilization training. Also inspecting the scene are, from left, Spc. Timothy Spivey, Sgt. Andy Bennett, Sgt. Leonard Sims and bulldozer operator Spc. David Lamar. All are with the 328th Engineer Company, a New Jersey Army Reserve unit, training to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Fort McCoy tops the list with a projection of 10,973 personnel for mobilization, followed very closely by Camp Shelby, Miss., with 10,944, Oskam said.

The projected FY10 demobilization workload for Fort McCoy is 8,550.

“Among the many reasons Fort McCoy is high on the list is because of the many improved, renovated and new facilities at McCoy,” Oskam said.” The cost of operations for mobilizing troops at McCoy is less than at other mob stations.”

“I credit the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, Directorate of Logistics, Directorate of Public Works, mobilization support staff, contractors and government civilians for the very efficient way McCoy operates,” Oskam said. “I am very proud of our very dedicated employees. This also is what First Army and individual Soldiers are saying to us in their surveys. Many of our customers have had multiple deployments, and through different mob stations, and they say McCoy is the best and they want to come back to McCoy.”

Oskam said that efficiency is shown in costs per meal, electric usage, fuel consumption and the least amount of time Soldiers stand in line to get services.

“The 181st Infantry Brigade, the mobilization trainers at McCoy, have made significant improvements on how they train units. They have become very efficient. What used to take 75 days to train a unit now takes 48 days. We have eliminated 90 percent of the Soldier’s ‘hurry up and wait.’”

Fort McCoy has made tremendous leaps in the last three years, Oskam said, with the construction of dozens of training villages and improvements to the live-fire ranges.

“Fort McCoy’s planners are creative thinkers who made the changes that improve the ability to prepare Soldiers,” Oskam said.

That includes everyone from the administrative specialists in the Soldier Readiness Center preparing Soldier records to the cooks serving chow at 5 a.m., the medical staff at the Troop Medical Clinic, to the range control personnel who get ammunition to the ranges and ensure the ranges operate safely.

Oskam also credited the Installation Materiel Maintenance Activity (IMMA).

“The volume of weapons that come out of the Small Arms Repair Shop is amazing. Then there are the mechanics at IMMA who keep hundreds of vehicles running to support mobilization training,” he said.

“The complexity of mobilization requires a team effort to be successful, and the McCoy Team is the best,” Oskam said. “It is how we support the Soldiers.”

A highlight for 2010, according to Oskam, will be the 197th Fires Brigade.

With approximately 3,000 Soldiers, the 197th will be the second largest mob unit in the last year and the first field artillery unit to mobilize at Fort McCoy, Oskam said. But, the New Hampshire-headquartered brigade, with major Army National Guard elements coming from West Virginia, Rhode Island and Michigan, “will leave their rockets at home,” Oskam said.

The 197th normally is equipped with the HIMARS field artillery system. Oskam said the brigade’s training at Fort McCoy will prepare them for their mission of managing base camps and assisting the movement of Soldiers and equipment from Iraq into Kuwait and movement back to the United States.

“The 197th will be part of the continuing transition from the warfighting to stabilization efforts. They will work as base camp managers, and provide force protection and convoy security.”

The 197th’s work will be part of the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn, which begins in September, Oskam said.

Oskam said McCoy mobilization representatives visited the 197th a year ago, and several of their key personnel already have visited McCoy multiple times, all in preparation for their mobilization.

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