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 June 11, 2010

News

Airmen train to support mobilization mission

Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Not just Soldiers go through training at Fort McCoy to prepare to deploy in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

About 2,000 Airmen went through mobilization training at Fort McCoy in 2009 and about 1,700 each from 2006 - 2008. Another 1,200 Airmen are projected for mobilization training in 2010.

PHOTO: Airman Isaac Ruz fires an M-4 rifle during a base defense live-fire operation on Fort McCoy’s Range 17. Photo by Tom Michele
Airman Isaac Ruz fires an M-4 rifle during a base defense live-fire operation on Fort McCoy’s Range 17. Ruz, from the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Spanghlem Air Base, Germany, is in the Joint Sourcing Training Oversight class of Airmen integrating into Army support roles for deployment.

The Joint Sourcing Training Oversight (JSTO) program was established by the Army, Air Force and Navy to help provide manpower to the Army and to ensure that Airmen and Sailors have the combat skills necessary to effectively support the joint team.

“Airmen come to Fort McCoy to learn to move, shoot, communicate and treat wounded buddies on the battlefield,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Clayton, commander of Detachment 7, 602nd Training Group (Provisional) at Fort McCoy.

Airmen train under the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, and Detachment 7 performs the JSTO administrative functions. Eight Airmen are assigned to the detachment.

“The Air Force currently has engineering Airmen and units at Fort McCoy,” Clayton said.

Air Force RED HORSE units also are a JSTO element that train at McCoy. The Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers specialize in runway and ramp construction, maintenance and repair, and deploy as a unit.

Airmen fill the requirements of the combatant commander in the area of operation, Clayton explained.

“Our classes in June and July are for non-engineer Airmen. They will receive generic combat skills training that will fill the taskings in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of responsibility.”

Clayton summarized the JSTO blocks of mobilization training as situational training exercises, gunnery familiarization to include live fire and reflexive fire and marksmanship with weapons up to and including the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun, Army Warrior Tasks, combat life saving, Humvee drivers training, engagement skills training (simulated weapons) and communications.

These tasks are important to ensure Airmen have appropriate training to effectively conduct their mission outside the wire, Clayton said.

“Engineer units train to engage in construction projects in areas that can turn hostile,” Clayton said. “That’s when they shift gears to defend themselves and their teammates.”

“Construction and infrastructure projects are among the best ways to win the hearts and minds of Iraqi and Afghan people,” Clayton said. “Members of the current class are going to both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The training Airmen receive at Fort McCoy, and at other power projection platforms, is vital because it allows Airmen to operate as part of the greater joint force,” Clayton said.

“Any training that expands an Airman’s skill-set makes that Airman a more valuable asset for the Air Force and the overall joint force,” he said.

Airmen typically do a 179-day deployment, exclusive of training at McCoy or other sites. Airmen come to Fort McCoy from bases around the world to assemble into classes.

Airman Benjamin Miller of the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), S.D., said, “Our training at Fort McCoy is important so we can assist the Army and best accomplish the mission overseas. We don’t get this training at our home bases.”

Master Sgt. Edward Medina of the 49th CES, Holloman AFB, N.M., said the training at Fort McCoy is good preparation for Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly convoy duty.

“The Army has normally taken care of us,” Medina said. “Now we will take care of ourselves and the Army. The training at Fort McCoy gives us an insight into the dangers we will all face downrange. It’s important so I can help a fellow Airman or Soldier. That’s a definite plus.”

Sgt. Brian Lee, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, said, “Most of us are engineers and don’t go outside the wire. But now we will. We need to know what to do at all times. That’s important for safety, for our lives and civilian lives. The training I have received at Fort McCoy is by far the best training I have had in preparing me to go to Iraq.”

Similar detachments from the 602nd Training Group are located at Forts Dix, Lewis, Bliss and Polk and Camp Atterbury. The 602nd is headquartered at Keesler AFB, Miss.

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