[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                               September 26, 2008

174th supports 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team mobilization training

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

Nearly 200 trainers from the 174th Infantry Brigade of Fort Drum, N.Y., are at Fort McCoy to assist with mobilization training of the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT).

Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Scott Chesser (right) of the 174th Infantry Brigade gives last minute instructions to Soldiers from the 81st HBCT before a convoy exercise. (Photo by Tom Michele)
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Chesser (right) of the 174th Infantry Brigade gives last minute instructions to Soldiers from the 81st HBCT before a convoy exercise. (Photo by Tom Michele)

The 174th is augmenting the trainers of the 181st Infantry Brigade in preparing the Washington Army National Guard troops, known as the "Ravens," for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 174th’s trainers primarily are conducting the eight-day Mission Rehearsal Exercises for the 161st Infantry and 185th Armor of the 81st HBCT. The exercise, a major component in mobilization training at McCoy, tests the mobilizing unit’s skills and mission readiness.

During the exercise, the 161st and 185th will serve as the security force for the Army in the Contingency Operating Location (COL) Liberty area at Fort McCoy. The Ravens will protect logistics convoys, perform route security, escort and site security missions and perform other missions as directed by higher headquarters. They will deal with opposing forces, civilians on the battlefield, vehicle malfunctions, disorientation along the convoy route, etc.

Maj. John Palo, 174th operations officer, said, "We will train those Soldiers on those missions."

"The 161st and 185th will be issued orders to direct them to situations similar to what they can expect to perform in-theater," Palo said. "We will be watching their battle staffs perform, including their leaders making decisions. With this training, we want them to leave a better unit than when they arrived at McCoy. We want to build up unit cohesion. We want to increase their confidence and ability to perform their mission."

"Our job is to mentor and assess and provide feedback and to tell them, ‘do you think you could better do it this way, or another way?’ We will monitor and control this training. We will do ‘injects,’" Palo said. Injects will include placing improvised explosive devices on a road, creating simulated injuries to Soldiers where they must treat each other for wounds, recover damaged vehicles and do it simultaneously while under fire. "That’s combat," Palo said.

Palo emphasized, "We will train them so they follow their standing operating procedures."

"Training of our Soldiers is important because it is important to the people of Iraq. It is their country and we are there to assist them. They need our help. We can provide a secure environment allowing them to rebuild their country," Palo said.

"It’s important for 174th Soldiers to help train mobilizing Soldiers because we want every mobilizing Soldier to return to their homes safely. That’s important to their families and to their communities," Palo said.

"Our job as Soldiers and as trainers is important because America has asked us to do this," Palo said. "We have been tasked to train our fellow Soldiers and prepare them to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and/or Enduring Freedom."

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)


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