|Story & photo by Pfc. Anthony T. Zane, 362nd Mobile
Public Affairs Detachment
It was a muggy and hot afternoon in
August at Fort McCoy. Soldiers arriving at the work site experienced
beads of sweat covering their skin within minutes. The immediate
surroundings are similar to the images of overseas military
installations seen in magazines. The Army Reserve Soldiers have been
hard at work since early morning at Fort McCoy as part of their
training. Troops are hurrying around like worker bees in a giant hive.
Soldiers from the 77th
Sustainment Brigade erect a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter,
which would be part of a Tactical Operation Center, during
Combat Support Training Exercise 2010.
The heat of the day imposes an almost surreal feel to the scene.
Soldiers from the 77th Sustainment Brigade participated in a
team-building exercise focused on how to construct a Tactical Operation
Center out of a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) during Combat
Support Training Exercise 2010.
At first glance, the DRASH looks like nothing more than a very large
camping tent, but during construction it is clear that there is much
The sweat on the brows and faces of the Soldiers showed the hard work it
takes for these troops to raise a DRASH.
As Master Sgt. Colin McKiel of Allentown, Pa., stands inside under the
domed ceiling his Soldiers just constructed, he spoke of them with
This gives the Soldiers an opportunity to see new systems and to work
with them, said McKiel. Many of the Soldiers in the crew are privates
first class and specialists. They learn how to set up the system and
tear it down, so if they do experience a situation like this down range
they have subject matter experts, he added.
Along with the experience of learning the mission-specific skills to
build a DRASH, the Soldiers of the 77th Sustainment Brigade were
building their teamwork skills at the same time, McKiel said.
“This is a great experience because it teaches you teamwork, how to work
together and how to problem-solve, and those are skills you’re going to
need when you go overseas because the people around you are going to be
the only people you’re going to have with you,” said Spc. Christopher
Jackson of Richmond, Va. “If you don’t know how to work as a team, how
protected are you really going to be?”
It takes teamwork to maneuver enormous pieces of beige tent,
exemplifying the intricate process and effort it takes to erect a DRASH.
At times, the job takes up to 10 Soldiers to grip a single piece of the
DRASH and pull it hard in different directions at the same time to fully
“We’ve all done field training exercises, and, a lot of times, we just
come to the place and the tents are already built,” said Pvt. Bianca
Lewis of Philadelphia. “You never see the process and how much work it
really takes to put these things up. So this is really about when we get
out there so that, that way we can take down our own tents and move them
accordingly,” continued Lewis.
It was like a giant puzzle, and thanks to everybody working together, it
came together and all the pieces fit, said Lewis.
Each section of tent is folded into compact pieces that then are bagged
and wrapped for easy transport.
After all the pieces arrive, Soldiers unpack, expand and connect the
pieces. The complexity of each piece is not apparent to the eye until
the piece opens, exposing the insides to plain view.
The internal structure is a honeycomb-style of hundreds of black
titanium-alloy rods that, together, provide the structure with its
strength and stability.
Teamwork paid off as the main structure of the DRASH stood in less than
a day’s time, which is a statement to the efficiency and hard work these
Soldiers contributed to the mission, McKiel said.
McKiel was pleased with his Soldiers and the outcome of this particular
“This was a great team effort, and I am really proud of every Soldier
out here,” added McKiel.
The pride of a successful mission was evident on each Soldier’s
exhausted face, and DRASH pieces coming together even can be felt in the
At the end of the day, the heat had lessened, the DRASH stood tall and
the chow hall provided a comforting welcome to the Soldiers. This has
been another successful Army day, McKiel said.