[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 27, 2008

IRC work benefits installation, Soldiers

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

      Engineer personnel spent a busy three-week extended combat training tour at Fort McCoy completing Installation Related Construction (IRC) projects that will benefit military personnel training at Fort McCoy for years to come.

      Michael Perzel III, the Troop Projects coordinator for Fort McCoy, said the three-week Castle IRC included engineer construction projects throughout the post. Perzel works for VT Griffin, which is contracted to provide Directorate of Public Works services.

Photo: Engineer Soldiers work on the foundation for a classroom/administrative facility at Young Air Assault Strip. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Engineer Soldiers work on the foundation for a classroom/administrative facility at Young Air Assault Strip. (Photo by Rob Schuette)  

      This IRC kicks off the busiest Troop Projects season in the past six years, Perzel said. Engineer personnel also will do Troop Projects construction during the Patriot Warrior Exercise.

      "The Castle IRC focuses on Soldiers working on their technical engineering skills, and they will focus on doing construction," Perzel said. Castle was chosen as the name of the exercise because a turreted castle is the distinctive symbol of the Army Corps of Engineers.

"During Patriot Warrior, Soldiers will focus a lot more on tactical skills while still using their technical skills," Perzel said.

      Projects under way at the Young Air Assault Strip, a semi-improved facility that can handle the C-17A aircraft, are a new observation tower, a classroom/administrative facility and road improvement for the facility.

      Sgt. Scott LaRock, a member of the 113th Facilities Engineer Detachment of Milwaukee, helped oversee the construction of the concrete base for the classroom/administrative facility. Among the units involved were the 364th and 309th Concrete Detachments of New York.

      "This is good training for them," LaRock said. "This is what they would be doing when they go overseas or are deployed."

Photo: Engineer personnel build an Automatic Building Machine structure on Range 26 at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Engineer personnel build an Automatic Building Machine structure on Range 26 at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Perzel said the improvements will make Young Air Assault Strip a better training facility for military personnel coming to Fort McCoy and hopefully attract more training to the installation.

      Not far from Young Air Assault Strip, members of the 340th Engineer Company of New Kensington, Pa., were constructing a traffic circle and widening a road.

      This will allow troops training at Fort McCoy to practice more training tasks such as conducting Improvised Explosive Devices training. Perzel said it also will provide valuable convoy training because there are an increasing number of traffic circles to navigate during convoy travel in-theater overseas.

      2nd Lt. Ryan Kessler, the 1st Platoon leader for the 340th, said his unit had just transitioned from combat engineers to horizontal construction.

      Much of the equipment being used for these projects was new to unit members.

      "It's a good incentive to be able to do a project like this that helps prepare units to go to theater," Kessler said. "We know what that's like since we were deployed from December 2003 to March 2005."

      Keith Twing, a senior technical support specialist from M.I.C. Industries of Reston, Va., came to Fort McCoy to provide troops with instruction in construction of an Automatic Building Machine (ABM) structure.

      "The structures are very similar to the buildings constructed in the civilian world, although this isn't the most advanced technology we have," Twing said. "These structures have been used for barracks at Fort Dix, N.J., Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., and Twentynine Palms, a Marine base in California."

      The newest technology, the Ultimate Building Machine, has been used worldwide by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The ABM buildings have proved to be very structurally sound, have an extended life span and are very inexpensive to build, with a cost of about $5-$6 a square foot, Twing said.

      Sgt. 1st Class Michael White, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the 604th Engineers of Greenwood, Miss., said the group was building an ABM storage facility on Range 26. Several Pennsylvania engineer units were doing the work.

      "It's going up quickly, and it's good training to develop camaraderie and to help support the installation's training," White said. "It's great because our unit is being transitioned from combat engineers to horizontal construction."

      The troops appreciated seeing the finished project. White and Twing noted the pace seemed to pick up as the project neared its end.

      The facility not only will provide good storage for such items as targeting, but it will provide an inclement weather alternative to conduct warrior task training for troops that use the range, White said.

      Another ABM is scheduled to be constructed on Range 41 during the Patriot Warrior exercise next month.

      The other projects being worked on include a berm and Southwest Asia-type hut to support training on Contingency Operating Location Freedom (formerly known as Forward Operating Base Freedom), placing gravel and widening several roads to support training, and constructing portable storage sheds.

      The units participating in the three-week exercise are the 391st Engineer Battalion, Greenville, S.C.; 604th Engineer Company, Greenwood, Miss.; 364th Concrete Detachment, Penn Yan, N.Y.; 309th Concrete Detachment, Penn Yan, N.Y.; the 352nd Engineer Company (Dump Truck), Yoakum, Texas; the 358th Engineer Company (Vertical), Schukillhaven, Pa.; the 718th Engineer Company (Heavy), Fort Benning, Ga.; the 340th Engineer Company (Heavy), New Kensington, Pa.; the 357th Engineer Company (Support), Asheville, N.C.; the 458th Engineer Battalion, Johnstown, Pa.: and the 113th Facilities Engineer Detachment, Milwaukee.


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