|By 1LT Zola Ajanaku, 1st, 338th Training Support
Since the early days of the decade, the 1st, 338th
Training Support Battalion (TSBN) at Fort McCoy has provided training
and support for units deploying to Operations Iraqi (OIF) and Enduring
Sgt. 1st Class Thad E. Pouk, 1st,
338th TSBN, and Sgt. 1st Class Benedicto C. Carandang, 1st,
340th TSBN, both observer-controller-trainers with the 181st
Infantry Brigade, train and mentor deploying Soldiers from the
101st Construction Battalion at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by Master Sgt. Jerome M.
Although the topics trained have changed, the hard work and
professionalism of the training teams remains constant. Currently, these
teams provide training in Modern Army Combatives, Blue Force Tracker
(BFT) and conduct a Situation Training Exercise (STX) for deploying
Additionally the unit’s team of liaison officers (LNOs) tracks and
assists units in documenting training for validation by the brigade
headquarters — the 181st Infantry Brigade on behalf of First Army.
The Combatives Team maintains a consistently high and varied Operations
Tempo. In addition to training the Army Warrior Fight Tasks for
deploying units, the team’s trainers conduct more advanced Level 1 and 2
Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) certifications.
It has done so for deploying units, installation tenants, other units
training at Fort McCoy and even ROTC cadets at area colleges. MACP is a
mixed martial arts-based program for hand-to-hand combat developed by
the Army in the late 1990s.
Last but not least, the team supports other 1st, 338th TSBN events. Unit
trainers provide Personal Security Detachment (PSD) training. The
combatives trainers certify PSD Soldiers at Level 1 and later test their
skills by donning padded “Blouwer” suits in order to act as opposing
forces (OPFOR) for PSD injects. This year alone 1st, 338th TSBN trainers
have certified more than 60 Soldiers at MACP Level 1, 10 at MACP Level 2
and have supported the training for several battalion- and brigade-level
Soldiers of the BFT Team perform a similarly varied mission. This team’s
trainers provide highly technical instruction on the operation and
maintenance of BFT equipment as part of the Force XXI Battle Command
Brigade and Below system.
BFT is a satellite-based, digital system for communication and battle
tracking developed in the late 1990s and used extensively by deploying
The team offers a variety of training opportunities for deploying units
to include a 40-hour certification, a 20-hour familiarization course and
a nine-hour basic course. Additionally, the team provides technical
support for other brigade training that use BFT.
Lastly, team members train units on the DARWARS virtual rehearsal tool.
DARWARS is an on-line, game based, system developed in 2003, which
allows gun truck crews to simulate and rehearse missions similar to what
they will later encounter during live training events or in-theater.
Observer-controller-trainer (OCT) teams from the 1st, 338th TSBN also
conduct the STX for deploying units.
This is a modular, seven-day exercise focusing on mounted combat patrols
and convoys, improvised explosive device (IED)-defeat, urban operations
and base defense.
OCT teams train Soldiers on individual tasks in these four areas in a
Units then integrate and execute these skills on a series of collective
lanes and events. The modularity and flexibility of STX allows it to be
tailored to the needs of the unit.
Mission scenarios or even the duration of the exercise are specific to
the applicable theater, strength and mission of the unit.
These use OPFOR, contracted cultural role players, foreign language
speakers, simulated IEDs and specially designed routes and sites to give
the unit the most realistic and demanding training event possible.
Units may be required to react to an IED on the road, meet with an Iraqi
mayor in a village and evacuate a casualty to a Contingency Operating
Location — all during the same patrol. The OCT teams are paired with,
train and evaluate the same unit during the entire exercise ensuring
continuity of trainers and support.
The teams constantly update the exercise and incorporate the latest
tactics, techniques and procedures and equipment such as Mine Resistant
Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, biometrics collection and explosives
In addition to the training teams, the LNO section works with units at
all phases of mobilization to set them up for success.
Units mobilizing at Fort McCoy or any other First Army Mobilization
Station are required to train on a series of more than 500 U.S. Army
Forces Command-mandated tasks prior to deployment.
While unit training is always ongoing, the core of it is conducted the
year before mobilization at home station and during its stay at the
All training must be tracked and documented. LNOs ensure this is done
properly so the unit can be validated for deployment by First Army.
The duties of an LNO are demanding.
The Soldiers can be flying to a unit’s home station to work with them
during pre-mobilization, working with a unit at Fort McCoy to ensure a
member gets critical training or tracking a Soldier who is following his
unit into theater while he/she receives critical training.
In these ways, the Soldiers of the 1st, 338th TSBN at Fort McCoy
continue to train and support units as they prepare to support OIF and