|Story & photo by Sgt. Crystal L. Milton, 220th
Public Affairs Detachment
FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Soldiers under the 78th Training Division wrapped up
the 2011 Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) here.
Troops from all across America returned home after nearly one month of
training. During CSTX, Soldiers worked in their respective job fields
out of Contingency Operating Locations (Forward Operating Bases or FOBs),
which are made to mimic deployment environments.
Army Reserve Soldiers extinguish
a flame in a second-story controlled-burn room during the 2011
Combat Support Training Exercise held at Fort McCoy.
Firefighters are members of the 482nd Engineer Detachment
(Firefighter Headquarters), 359th and 750th Engineer Detachments
(Firefighter) based at Fort Riley, Kan., and the 324th
Engineering Detachment (Firefighter), based at Granite City,
“I’ve never been deployed, and this actually gave me a realistic look at
what to expect when or if we get deployed,” said Capt. William D.
Johnson, headquarters commander of the 926th Engineer Brigade of
Soldiers lived, worked and ate as if they were in a combat zone. Even
though any attacks they encountered were simulated, Soldiers had to be
ready for anything around-the-clock. This meant working together like a
well-oiled machine to keep their perimeter secure and mission
Engineers set up bridges, built huts and roadways. Water-treatment
specialists converted thousands of gallons of lake water into clean
drinking and shower water for Soldiers at FOBs. Dentists, dental
hygienists and medics ensured that Soldiers stayed healthy. Cooks made
certain Soldiers were fed, and the command element in the rear did its
part to keep the overall exercise functioning.
“All of the personnel are unique with their own personalities and
mentalities. We all know what the mission is and we all know what we
have to do. We make sure we get it done,” said Johnson.
More than one year of planning goes toward making sure CSTX training
exercises will benefit Soldiers in the end, said Lt. Col. Stephen
Strand, deputy commander of the 926th Engineer Brigade of Montgomery,
Ala. “We did many staff rehearsals prior to our arrival and worked on
the operations process prior to our departure from home station.”
“I feel like we are a very experienced unit,” said Strand. “We’ve been
deployed twice to Iraq and once to Desert Storm, but it’s always good to
be able to run through rehearsals while the pressure is on,” Strand said
in reference to the 2011 CSTX.
The CSTX “pressure-is-on” training is excellent for Soldiers who have
never deployed and don’t have much of an opportunity to practice
job-specific deployment strategies back home.
“This training definitely helps Soldiers whose home units lack the
equipment for them to train on during battle-assembly weekends,” said
Spc. Bruce Flowers, a dental technician with the 7243rd Medical Support
By the end of it all, Soldiers develop better relations with each other
and leave with a stronger grasp of the elements in their job field.
“It’s hard to get to know your Soldiers one weekend a month,” said
Johnson. “In an environment like this where you live with them and work
with them on a day-to-day basis you get to know them a lot better.
That’s a good thing.”