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June 22, 2012


Operation Essayons: Focusing on engineering tasks helps unit, installation

Story & photo 2nd Lt. Ellen Poeschel, 397th Engineer Battalion

The 397th Engineer Battalion from Eau Claire, Wis., along with 13 other units from eight states, participated in various Troop Projects in support of Operation Essayons, which took place at Fort McCoy, from June 4-23.
PHOTO: Soldiers from the 327th Engineer Battalion build Army-style sea huts. Photo by Ellen Poeschel
Soldiers from the 327th Engineer Battalion work on projects to improve the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy field site, including building Army-style sea huts.

The operation incorporated the 7226th Medical Support Unit, a medical unit from Fort Jackson, S.C., the 376th (Granite City, Ill.) and 245th (Lincoln, Neb.) firefighter detachments and the 802nd (Denver), a quality-assurance and quality-control team. The operation also welcomed a German reserve exchange officer, Lt. Col. Thomas Hilber, an exercise participant who had the opportunity to observe the planning and execution of the various Troop Projects. About 500 Soldiers participated in Operation Essayons.

The main objectives for Operation Essayons were to train Soldiers in their specific military occupational specialty (MOS) trades and make improvements to Fort McCoy.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Welch, the commanding officer of the battalion and control cell for Operation Essayons. “This is a premier exercise to allow Soldiers to hone their MOS skills. These are real-life projects that will benefit the post and that will allow the Soldiers to come back and see the fruits of their labor for years to come.”

The 327th Engineer Battalion of Onalaska, Wis., worked to make improvements to the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncomissioned Officer (NCO) Academy by building Army-style sea huts — buildings that stand raised above the ground — to house an aid station, sleep quarters, a work room and a tactical operations center.

Other missions included constructing roads on training facilities, building a storage shed for Fort McCoy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program at Pine View Campground, training for a firefighter detachment and work on a forward arming and refueling point.

“This is the first time in my 38 years in the military where this exercise was purely MOS training with no tactical play,” said exercise participant, Command Sgt. Maj. John Vacho of the 397th. “It gives Soldiers time to focus on their MOS skills and apply their trade.”

Operation Essayons gave senior enlisted Soldiers and officers the opportunity to mentor newer Soldiers, and help them to become proficient in new skills.

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