|By Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services
Sailors exchanged their desert tan camouflage uniforms for Army Combat
Uniforms when they came to Fort McCoy for mobilization training.
They now wear the Kevlar helmet and armor-plated outer tactical vest as
they exchanged a floating platform for ground work at Fort McCoy.
But they still keep their very personal U.S. Navy service name tape on
the left breast pocket of their service uniform and are very proud
Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Daniel
Link applies a bandage to the head of Navy Operational Spec. 1st
Class John Ramsundar in a combat lifesaver class at Fort McCoy.
The Sailors went through mobilization training prior to
deployment. (Photo by Navy
Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eliezer Gabriel)
They received a one-year assignment as “augmentees” to the U.S. Army
as part of the Joint Sourcing Training Oversight (JSTO) program employed
by the Department of Defense to supplement personnel needs of the Army.
Most of the JSTO warriors training at Fort McCoy are Airmen preparing to
deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. About
40 members of the U.S. Coast Guard also have gone through JSTO
mobilization training at McCoy.
Shane Ross and Eliezer Gabriel both are mass communications specialists
in the Navy Reserve, comparable to the Army’s public affairs
journalists. Both Sailors carry a camera, pen and notebook to document
what’s happening in Navy, now Army, life.
Ross is assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element (NPASE) West in
Norfolk Naval Station, Va., serving at McDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Gabriel is assigned at NPASE West in San Diego, serving at Alameda Naval
Air Station, Calif.
Both have had weapons training, but just with the 9 mm pistol. “Sailors
rarely touch individual small arms,” Gabriel said, “that’s almost always
handled by Marines.”
At Fort McCoy they received training on the M16 assault rifle, M249
squad automatic weapon, M240 light machine gun and M2 heavy machine gun.
Training included combat lifesaver, cultural awareness, language skills,
Army Warrior Skills, Harris radio operations and situational training
exercises involving base defense, improvised explosive device-defeat,
and convoy operations.
“The training at Fort McCoy is very interesting,” Ross said. “We never
had anything like it before.” Gabriel said he noticed the use of
acronyms at Fort McCoy. “There are a lot more than in the Navy. The Army
has a whole different language.”
The Sailor-Soldiers, or Soldier-Sailors, will be assigned their normal
military specialties in theater. For Ross and Gabriel, that will be
public affairs duties in Afghanistan.
Two of their shipmates are operations specialists, two are personnel
specialists and one is a chaplain. Six are going to Afghanistan one to
“We won’t be confined to an office,” Ross said, “but will be out
photographing and documenting history.”
Gabriel added, “doing different things every day, just like at our
regular Navy assignments. A big thing for me is that I will be helping
to write history.”
Gabriel also said, “I’m looking forward to the experience of being in
Afghanistan, and then coming home and sharing those experiences with
other Sailors and my Family. All of that is important so that I get to
know my job very well and earn points toward promotion in rank.”
Ross also said he is looking forward to his upcoming tour. He already
had one tour during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 while aboard the
aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in the Persian Gulf.