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May 25, 2012

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8 major exercises to highlight summer 2012 training at Fort McCoy

Fort McCoy has all the pieces in place to support eight major exercises that will highlight training this summer.

Capt. Jim Lavelle, a plans officer with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Office of Training Coordination, said the preplanning has been completed and the units participating in the exercises are ready to train. The units coming here to train can use some of the best ranges and training areas in the Army, he added.
PHOTO: Soldiers put on a demonstration of a palletized loading system during the 2011 Combat Support Training Exercise. File photo
Soldiers from the 208th Transportation Company of Tucson, Ariz., put on a demonstration of a palletized loading system during the 2011 Combat Support Training Exercise. The exercise presented realistic and challenging scenario-based training for Soldiers and units preparing for deployment. (File photo)

Support and cooperation throughout the installation, including work force support, is the key to conducting successful exercises, he said.

“Everyone works together to help ensure the exercises are successful,” Lavelle said.

The exercises can require quick support or response.

“Everyone here is eager to help them,” Lavelle said. “The units tell us they hear ‘no’ all the time when they make training requests or ask to do something at other installations. At Fort McCoy, the people say ‘here’s the challenge and here’s what we can do and how you can meet your training requirements.’ They can still accomplish their missions.”

Units involved in exercises are encouraged to send representatives to any conferences held at Fort McCoy regarding the exercises they will participate in, Lavelle said. Units can coordinate needs with Fort McCoy staff and become aware of the capabilities of the training facilities available at the installation.

Lavelle said successful exercises depend on support from organizations both on and off the installation.

An example is Fort McCoy’s cooperative agreement with Volk Field. During the Patriot Exercise in July, units will train at both Fort McCoy and Volk Field. The Patriot Exercise also will include cooperative training with the first Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX). The first CSTX will be coordinated by the 78th Training Division of U.S. Army Support Activity, Fort Dix, N.J.

Patriot Exercise equipment will be shipped to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Personnel participating in the CSTX at Fort McCoy will pick up the equipment and transport it from there to Fort McCoy as part of their real-world and real-time training. Lavelle said the training will include moving the equipment across state lines, moving non-standard loads and correctly completing all the procedures and paperwork. In addition to the training benefits, the Patriot Exercise avoids the commercial costs of transporting the equipment from Minneapolis to Fort McCoy.

Geographically distant units participating in training at Fort McCoy also can take advantage of pre-positioned equipment. Lavelle said in the case of the Army Reserve this encompasses receipting equipment from the Equipment Concentration Site-67 for use and turning it in in an approved condition to be used by the next unit.

The CSTX exercises and the Warrior Exercise (WAREX) to be held at Fort McCoy will include observer-controller (OC) and opposing forces support from two experienced units.

The 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy will provide OC support for the CSTX. The OCs will be trained at the 86th Training Division Academy. The 86th supports and coordinates the CSTX and WAREX.

Fort McCoy also offers units the advantage of training areas, such as forward operating bases and the home station training lanes, Lavelle said.

Support also includes the use of Fort McCoy’s training simulation facilities, such as the Engagement Skills Trainer, the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer and the Virtual Battlefield 2 Trainer. Simulations save the units time and money, Lavelle said.

Whenever possible, units training at Fort McCoy that can bring unique skills to the exercises are encouraged to coordinate their training with units involved in the exercises. A success story in 2011 was the 67th Troop Command of Iowa providing helicopter support for medical-evacuation training during WAREX.

“If it allows units to execute their training plans, we encourage cooperative training,” Lavelle said. “We’ve had several successes.”

Another area that has seen a lot of success is the Troop Project program.

Lavelle said engineer units involved in such training as the engineer exercise Essayons can conduct various projects to support the installation during their training.

The units don’t necessarily have to complete a project, but their skills can be used to further a project’s completion — giving them good hands-on training, while saving the installation money.

The training opportunities and support has encouraged the units to return for the exercises year after year, and the exercises also are reporting growth. Lavelle said this includes holding two CSTX and one WAREX exercises this year and increasing to two CSTX and two WAREX exercises in 2013. The second CSTX exercise for 2012 is being coordinated by the 86th Training Division.

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