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