|By Tom Michele, Eagle Systems and Services
increasing winter and continuing mobilization mission for Fort McCoy
means the 181st Infantry Brigade, the mobilization trainers at McCoy,
won’t get to work in the sunny Southern U.S. for the winter months.
Soldiers from the 181st Infantry
Brigade unbolt the forward axle assembly frame of a Husky
vehicle-mounted mine-detection vehicle at Fort McCoy’s
Installation Materiel Maintenance Activity. The Husky was
shipped from Iraq to use at the installation.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
More than 20 individual units, mostly engineers, are scheduled to go
through mobilization training at Fort McCoy from November through April.
Maj. Robert Pilkin, the 181st’s chief of plans, said the 181st would not
be going to Camp Shelby, Miss., as it did in the winter months of
“When I came to Fort McCoy in late 2003, mobilization training was
slower in the summer months and then built up in winter. That reversed
itself in recent years. Now, this coming year, including this winter
season, we are getting more units mobilizing here in winter, and many of
them will be here simultaneously. The 181st will be at Fort McCoy to
Lt. Col. James Sprackling, brigade plans, training and operations
officer, said “mobilization training will shift from mostly mounted
combat patrols in HMMWVs (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles)
to route clearance training with the blast-protected and heavily armored
route clearance vehicles. We will really be busier in the winter months
than the summer months.”
Sprackling said there is a possibility of the 181st getting some
additional observer-controller-trainers (OCTs) from other First Army
units to augment the existing 181st staff.
Mobilization training will change, Sprackling said. “We have been mostly
getting small units (in the number of Soldiers in a unit). Now we will
be getting brigade and battalion-sized elements.”
“Our niche is evolving toward training route clearance teams to deploy
to Afghanistan,” Sprackling said. “Afghanistan is their mission, so it
is one of our missions. Wisconsin is not Afghanistan, but northern
Afghanistan does have similar weather conditions, specifically snow. So,
we will train mobilizing Soldiers to operate in snow, narrow roads and
mountainous terrain. The hills along the west side of the McCoy impact
area fit that scenario.”
Sprackling said “the 181st will continue to train mobilizing Soldiers to
the First Army’s Southwest Asia Training Guide, with the 32 individual
Soldier tasks and the 11 collective unit tasks. The changes will be that
we will use fewer HMMWVs and use more mine-detecting equipment. The
HMMWVs travel in mounted combat patrols at fast speeds. Route clearance
missions are normally much slower, to find, not avoid, improvised
Vehicle traffic flow on Fort McCoy’s training lanes will change in one
more and very noticeable way, Sprackling said. Mounted combat patrols
with HMMWVs traveled on the right-side lane. Other traffic could slowly
and safely pass them in either direction. “But route clearance missions
will use the entire road and there will be no fast way to get past them.
Drivers of other vehicles will need to be more careful.”
Sprackling said this shift in mobilization training began earlier this
Some of the newer equipment already is at Fort McCoy, having arrived in
recent months, such as the Husky that was documented in a story and
photo in The Real McCoy. July 10 issue.
Three more Husky vehicle-mounted mine- detection vehicles arrived at
McCoy recently. The new trio is really an old trio, having been used in
Iraq and then shipped to McCoy for training use.
Other new equipment for mobilization training includes virtual
simulators of the Buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle, the RG-31
medium mine-protected vehicle, the Husky vehicle-mounted mine-detection
vehicle, the joint explosive ordnance disposal rapid response vehicle,
the Talon man-transportable robotic system, an instructor operator
station and an after-action review station.
Also for “gearing up” for the winter, the 181st individual Soldiers will
be issued the extreme cold weather seven-layer clothing system,
according to Mark Boggs, a civilian planner for the 181st.
To keep Soldiers comfortable in the Fort McCoy outdoor environment,
Generation III clothing provides the broadest range of defense from
unpredictable environmental conditions, allows Soldiers to train,
operate and sustain combat operations in a broad climate range, and
extends their ability to take the fight to the enemy, Boggs said.
Included in the system are a high-loft fleece jacket, wind jacket,
soft-shell cold-weather jacket and trousers, extreme wet/cold-weather
jacket and trousers and extreme cold-weather parka and trousers. The
system addresses a climate range from minus 40 degrees to 60 degrees
Fahrenheit. It also is 25 percent lighter than previous-generation
clothing, with 30 percent less bulk.
According to Sprackling, 181st personnel will get their gear from Fort
McCoy’s Central Issue Facility. Mobilizing Soldiers will have it as part
of their standard issue equipment.