photos By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
houses in Asian-style villages, a new road carved through a dense and
hilly woodland and the extension of a high, dirt security berm have
changed the scenery at Fort McCoy.
With the wood wall frame laid
out, Soldiers nail wall boards to the frame for a South West
Asia hut on a Fort McCoy training lane. The Soldiers are from
the 168th Engineer Company, Alabama Army National Guard.
changes are being constructed by Soldiers using their military
occupational specialties (MOS) as they train in preparation for their
deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom.
the case of Fort McCoy, these construction projects are being
performed by combat engineers, as McCoy is a primary mobilization site
for engineers on the way to Southcentral Asia. Soldiers get MOS
training at the same time they are getting the mobilization training
that is specific to Iraq and Afghanistan.
844th Engineer Battalion out of Knoxville, Tenn., erected the first
about 60-foot stretch of HESCO barriers to expand a security berm at
Contingency Operating Location (COL) Freedom, and built six South West
Asia (SWA) huts on a training lane by the Badger Drop Zone.
HESCO barriers are collapsible and lined wireframes that are opened up
and filled with dirt. A second set has been set on top of the first
line. The SWA Huts are 16-foot-by-32-foot one-room wood structures. At
McCoy the SWA huts are used by cultural role players and opposing
forces Soldiers to stage incidents for mounted convoy patrols.
877th Engineer Battalion out of Hamilton, Ala., continued another
60-foot stretch of HESCO barriers, built a SWA Hut on a major road on
South Post, and worked on clearing and grubbing a new five-mile long
road through the trees on another major South Post road. The 877th
Soldiers encountered significant enemy fire — blank ammunition from
assault rifles, along with artillery and grenade simulators and smoke
grenades — as the Soldiers moved in convoys to training and
construction sites. Reacting to those threats is a major part of
779th Engineer Battalion out of Tallahassee, Fla., has COL Freedom
HESCO barrier expansion on its task list, plus the continued work on
the road the 844th and 877th worked on. The 779th also is scheduled to
erect four SWA huts, build three portable range maintenance sheds and
improve roads on the training lanes.
101st Engineer Battalion, out of Reading, Mass., will have a
near-identical task list.
task list is planned jointly between the 340th Training Support
Battalion (TSB) and the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works (DPW).
Spc. Tyson Coppedge operates a
bulldozer to push dirt closer to a berm as part of a troop
project to improve Contingency Operating Location Freedom at
Fort McCoy. Coppedge is with the 920th Engineer Company, New
Mexico Army National Guard.
340th is one of four TSBs of the 181st Infantry Brigade that conducts
the mobilization training at McCoy.
Perzel III is the DPW’s Troop Projects coordinator and has been
working in this arena since January 2003. Perzel works for McCoy
Public Works–Joint Venture, which is contracted to provide DPW
services for Fort McCoy.
match engineer units’ capabilities, usually referred to by them as
their Mission Essential Task List (METL), with the installation’s
Engineer Troop Training Plan," Perzel said. "This
coordination is performed because it is the training value engineer
Soldiers receive and the improvement to the Fort McCoy infrastructure
that is also a cost savings to the taxpayer. The additional benefit
for our mobilizing Soldiers is they are ‘validated’ by the 340th
as a unit to mobilize."
projects are all real missions that are initiated as ‘work orders’
sent to DPW," Perzel said. "I use appropriate projects to
develop and update a five-year Engineer Troop Training Plan in
accordance with Fort McCoy marketing objectives, training guidance
issued by components of the Department of Defense and projects
identified in Fort McCoy’s unconstrained work list."
plan incorporates current and valid projects that meet the METL of
engineer military units, unit manpower strengths, trade capability of
all unit personnel and unit equipment assets," Perzel explained.
"The Troop Training Plan maximizes the number of available
projects capable of being efficiently accomplished by troop labor
while they are training at Fort McCoy."
addition to improving the skill set of the individual Soldier, these
projects develop team building, esprit de corps and unit
cohesion," Perzel also said. "Projects deal with force
protection, such as the HESCO berm, or quality-of-life issues, such as
the SWA huts. Engineer units have been constructing troop projects at
Fort McCoy for more than 50 years, this year there is more of an
emphasis being put on it. These projects also have become part of the
units’ Mission Readiness Exercise (MRE)."
MRE is a five-to-seven-day exercise that culminates the units’ and
Soldiers’ training experience at Fort McCoy before they are
validated and deployed.
(Michele is a public
affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for
CONUS Support Base Services.)