|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
The departure of the 236th and 1022nd Engineer Companies from Fort McCoy
in late September will bring to a close a significant chapter in Fort
The pair of Army National Guard companies — one from Texas, the other
from Louisiana — will be the last to deploy from Fort McCoy.
Soldiers patrol the pedestrian
lane at the entry-control point at Fort McCoy’s Contingency
Operating Location Freedom during a base-defense situational
training exercise. The Soldiers are with the 236th Engineer
Company, preparing to deploy in support of Operation Enduring
According to Brad Stewart, director, Directorate Plans, Training,
Mobilization and Security at Fort McCoy, Fort McCoy will conclude
its mobilization mission as the Army begins to drawdown its unit
requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As a result, First Army conducted a rebalancing plan to draw its
Mobilization Training Centers from 10 down to four. Even though
First Army did not select Fort McCoy, the crown jewel of the Army
Reserve, to continue the mobilization mission, its military value
increases daily as a premier training installation with its
state-of-the-art range complex for transient units as part of their
Army Force Generation cycle.”
The demobilization effort at Fort McCoy also is completed; the final
units and Soldiers out processed in August.
Statistics through Fiscal Year 2011 show that 67,200 Soldiers mobilized,
trained and deployed through Fort McCoy, and 94,300 were demobilized at
the installation. The mobilization figure also includes 10,500 Air Force
and Navy personnel.
Col. Scott McFarlane, Fort McCoy Deputy Commander for Mobilization, said
for the past 10 years, “The mission went very well, smooth and
successful. We took good care of the Soldiers.”
McFarlane said the mobilization and demobilization mission evolved from
being supported by a small cell of Soldiers in the 6015th Garrison
Support Unit soon after Sept. 11, 2001, to the full operation of the
Mobilization Support Brigade with about 50 Soldiers, and about 160
contract civilians and mobilizing training support from about 600
Soldiers with the 181st Infantry Brigade for classroom and field
“The importance of the mission was to ensure that Soldiers who mobilized
at Fort McCoy were ready to go fight a war,” McFarlane said.
“Fort McCoy provided those basic and necessary skills and standards,
along with the personnel, administrative, financial and medical
preparations, to ensure Soldiers would be the most-effective Soldiers
they could be. Fort McCoy provided the billeting, food services and
infrastructure as part of the life-support side of the training
Soldiers’ stay at McCoy.”
Noticeable on the McCoy landscape was the construction of the two
contingency operating locations (COLs), Freedom, out of a patch of
grass,” according to McFarlane, on the south side of Highway 21, and
Liberty, from the former enemy-prisoner-of-war camp just outside the
cantonment area to the northeast.
“They were created and constructed to replicate the environment most
Soldiers would live and work in overseas.” he added.
The COLs had billeting tents and classrooms, metal sheds for storage and
mobile home shells for staff and trainer offices, classrooms, and unit
tactical operations centers.
A large dining structure eventually was constructed at each COL.
Concertina wire-lined berms were built to surround the COLs, with
multi-gated entry-control points and guard towers.
“The COLs were a major focal point for operations and exercises, to be
the starting point and return point for convoy operations, along with
base-security and perimeter operations, just like in theater,” McFarlane
Within the cantonment area, the major renovation of dozens of barracks,
dining and administration buildings plus the construction of vehicle
maintenance garages, a major dining facility, and barracks-area
laundromats and weapons-storage facilities, “improved the quality of
life for the Soldiers,” McFarlane said.
A major part of Fort McCoy’s mobilization and demobilization operations
occurred at the Soldier Readiness Center, where Soldiers had records
checks, attended briefings, accomplished personnel, legal and finance
actions, obtained identification cards and got information about their
Other significant areas of operations for the mobilization and
demobilization mission were the information technology center and Alpha
Company for administration of Soldiers with medical needs to include
going to a Warrior Transition Unit, returning to civilian life, and
attending military schools upon completion of a tour of duty.
The Mobilized Unit Inprocessing Center served as the operations,
command-and-control center for the Soldiers’ stay at McCoy. “That’s
where the scheduling, coordination and planning for the whole program
were performed,” McFarlane said.
Volk Field, the Wisconsin Air National Guard facility southeast of Fort
McCoy was a major partner in the success of the mission.
Almost all Fort McCoy mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers arrived and
departed from Volk Field.
The efforts of installation and contractor personnel involved with the
mob-demob mission now shift to executing drawdown plans.
Military and contract personnel will be released according to a
pre-determined schedule. Buildings and equipment issued to the mob-demob
program will be turned in, McFarlane said.
An archive to document and preserve best procedures and practices is
“There are variables to account for, but the mobilization-demobilization
mission at Fort McCoy will have the drawdown, phase-out process complete
by Dec. 31,” McFarlane said.
“I’m very happy with the way the entire mob-demob effort went for the
Soldiers, units, and the Army at Fort McCoy,” McFarlane said. “We had a
fantastic group of leaders, Soldiers, civilians, and contractors
conducting the mob-demob mission. The installation’s Command Group and
directorates were outstanding in supporting the effort. It was all about
caring for our Soldiers. The training Soldiers, units and the Army all
saw that the people at McCoy cared for the Soldiers.”