Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
Not just Soldiers go through training at Fort McCoy to
prepare to deploy in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring
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.
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
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
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.