Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
swarm of Soldiers buzzing throughout the Fort McCoy mobilization
training center areas is not an unusual occurrence for the
A group of 81st Brigade Combat
Team (BCT) Soldiers walks around the nose of the aircraft that
just landed at Volk Field to unload duffle bags onto a truck to
be taken to Fort McCoy. Their flight was one of many bringing
the entire BCT to Fort McCoy to prepare for deployment to
support Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
all of those Soldiers being part of one large unit mobilizing at the
same time will be a first for Fort McCoy, and that is commanding the
scrutiny of mobilization personnel.
81st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the Washington Army National Guard
will prepare to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Bas Oskam, deputy for mobilization at Fort McCoy, said, "This is
significant because of the size of just this unit rather than there
being a lot of smaller, multiple units. This is a brigade combat team
with all of its Soldiers arriving at Fort McCoy in a one-week time
span. This is the first time a full BCT has mobilized here."
81st BCT, known as the "Washington Rifles," includes
Soldiers from the California Army National Guard and a few Soldiers
from Texas and Montana.
hosted the 1st, 34th BCT in the summer of 2007 for a 12-day
demobilization period, but not with the same intensity and training
tasks that are part of mobilization, Oskam said.
a BCT mobilizing here is a first," Oskam reiterated, "and
has really been three years in the works. Three years ago we didn’t
have the newest training ranges for the live firing of weapons. We
didn’t have the renovated barracks, administration buildings and
Army invested $18.1 million during the last three to four years in the
McCoy infrastructure to upgrade its facilities and training areas, he
deputy for mobilization noted Fort McCoy’s mobilization efforts
several years ago focused on smaller combat-service-support units.
the term "mobilization" wasn’t particularly used in past
decades, Oskam said Fort McCoy was designed and built in 1942 to
prepare troops for duty in World War II. The installation was
established in 1909, but many of the existing buildings were built in
that time, the Army has repositioned Fort McCoy to be a fully capable
mobilization training center, Oskam said. "That is important to
Soldiers coming to Fort McCoy. They will get the same quality,
quantity of warrior training as at an active-Army base."
have better ranges than Fort Hood and Fort Bragg — that’s
according to what Soldiers have told us," Oskam said. "These
are Soldiers who have mobilized several times through different Army
a Soldier’s point of view," Oskam said, "he gets on the
lanes quicker and participates in realistic scenarios that he will
experience in combat. The 181st Infantry Brigade trainers are the best
in the business."
will be different with the 81st will be that the installation issues
more equipment at one time, will have more dining facilities open at
one time and will service more equipment at one time, according to
will be a culmination of three years of planning and construction at
Fort McCoy," Oskam said.
of the Soldier Readiness Processing is being conducted at the 81st’s
annual training, which was held at Yakima Training Center, Wash.,
immediately prior to the unit coming to Fort McCoy.
will help reduce a few of the stations at the Soldier Readiness Center
for Soldiers to go through at Fort McCoy.
nation is sending the 81st Brigade Combat Team to Iraq to perform a
stressful mission," Oskam said. Fort McCoy has a leading role in
training, developing, equipping and validating the 81st so Soldiers
will be able to conduct their combat mission in Iraq. "This is a
key milestone in Fort McCoy’s history."
McCoy Range Officer Terry Hoff said three machine-gun, live-fire
ranges have been improved and two convoy route lanes are being
improved, all with the arrival of the 81st BCT in mind.
ranges will be utilized for gun truck gunnery," Hoff said.
Improvements have been made to the target systems to include fully
automated and computerized targets, including moving and stationary
targets for both vehicle and infantry firing. Improvements also have
been made to increase the height of the berms at the firing positions
and at vehicle parking areas.
has all been done with gun truck gunnery in mind," Hoff said,
"to support the 81st’s gun truck gunnery qualification needs.
Gun trucks will fire both while stationary and also while moving. They
have a lot of Soldiers who need to become qualified in gun truck
said improvements were started in May and completed in August.
Sergeant Major for Mobilization, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Uhlig said,
"From a health and welfare standpoint for Soldiers, the Fort
McCoy facilities are better than a lot of other mobilization stations,
including living conditions, amenities, and updated facilities."
stood up a new Soldier Computer Center with about 60 personal
computers at a former assembly hall renovated so Soldiers may conduct
personal activities online," Uhlig said. The computer center will
also be available for units to conduct computer-based training.
young Soldiers do the majority of their communications through
e-mail," Uhlig said. "With this new computer facility,
Soldiers will be able to stay in touch with family and friends. This
facility was designed for the mobilization process and the timing is
right for the 81st BCT."
also said another addition to the McCoy mobilization effort "has
been the addition of about 12 ‘green suiters’ in the last 30 to 60
days to support the entire McCoy mob mission. The help of the new
Soldiers will be crucial in the success of the 81st. Each of these new
Soldiers previously has been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, so they
do bring a lot of expertise to McCoy."
mission, our mission, is to ensure the 81st BCT can meet all of their
training needs with little if any distraction," Uhlig said.
"We like to make sure everyone who trains and deploys at Fort
McCoy leaves with the understanding and belief that Fort McCoy is a
‘Total Force Training Center.’
is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc.,
contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)