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August 12, 2011


Combat Support Training Exercise wraps up month of training

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.
PHOTO: Army Reserve Soldiers extinguish a flame in a second-story controlled-burn room during the 2011 CSTX at Fort McCoy. Photo by Sgt. Crystal L. Milton
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, Ill.

“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 Montgomery, Ala.

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 accomplished.

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 Unit.

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.”

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