|Story & photo by Geneve N. Mankel, Public Affairs Staff
Maneuver training areas cover the majority of Fort McCoy’s 46,000-plus
acres of training land.
The Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program, which is part of
the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS)
Range Branch, works to ensure the long-term viability of Fort McCoy
maneuver areas, said Brent Friedl, Fort McCoy ITAM coordinator.
Personnel with the Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance section
of the Integrated Training Area Management program remove woody
debris from the new Unmanned Aerial Site at Fort McCoy’s North
It does this through monitoring land conditions and conducting land
rehabilitation and maintenance projects.
Conservation-management and environmental-stewardship principles are
always considered when managing and sustaining McCoy maneuver training
areas, Friedl said.
ITAM is a core component of the Army’s Sustainable Range Program (SRP),
Sustaining training lands is important because factors such as
encroaching communities, changes in training requirements, and natural
processes can affect the condition of the land, Friedl said. If the land
is in poor condition, the quality of the training can be affected.
Damage to training lands can result in a loss of available training-land
acreage, a decrease in realistic training, creation of safety hazards,
increased maintenance costs, loss of vegetation, and the spread of
“It’s important to offer safe, realistic and diverse training areas that
will test units’ abilities to plan, recon, and conduct operations,” he
The Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance section of the
Integrated Training Area Management program completed Fort
McCoy’s first low-water crossing obstacle earlier this year.
Friedl said ITAM uses a comprehensive planning process to create
realistic maneuver areas, such as planting farm fields to simulate
in-theatre agricultural crop lands, creating varied avenues of approach
that cause troops to negotiate lands with a tactical mindset, ensuring
just enough natural cover and concealment is available throughout the
training areas and near high-use sites such as firing points, and much
“The overall goal is to support the installation’s training mission,”
Friedl said. “But we also have to meet land-stewardship requirements.”
Environmental and cultural resources rules and guidelines always are
taken into account when training-land projects are considered, Friedl
Training-land projects are coordinated between the ITAM and other
installation organizations, such as the Training Division and the
Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch, to ensure McCoy
meets training mission capabilities and continues to support diverse
vegetation, wildlife and protection of cultural resources, Friedl said.
“We act as a bridge between the Environmental and the Training Divisions
to make sure a balance is worked out between environmental and training
requirements,” he said.
Specifically, the ITAM’s Training Requirement Integration section is
responsible for coordinating with other land-management organizations at
the installation, such as the Natural Resources Branch, about training
requirements and gives input on how all parties involved can come to
resolutions about how training lands are best managed.
The condition of McCoy training lands is measured by the Range and
Training Land Assessment (RTLA) crew, a component of the ITAM program.
RTLA monitors, assesses and documents land conditions and disturbances,
Friedl said. Its findings help the installation determine how training
lands are impacted and how they can be enhanced.
Disturbances to land can be manmade or caused by factors such as land
erosion, plant community succession, storms, tree diseases, etc., he
When maintenance, reconfiguration or repair projects for training areas
are identified by RTLA, the Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance (LRAM)
crew, another ITAM component, executes the field work.
LRAM projects can include routine clearing and thinning of areas to
allow access, smoothing out excessive ruts, repairing washed-out trails,
and re-vegetating heavily disturbed sites, Friedl said.
This winter, for example, LRAM plans on shredding 300-450 acres of
encroaching shrubs/trees and woody debris to maintain maneuver areas and
Other projects recently completed or currently in production include
clearing woody debris at the new Unmanned Aerial Site, adding topsoil
and leveling simulated farm fields in training villages, completing the
installation’s first low-water crossing obstacle, and managing areas
affected by oak wilt.
ITAM also educates personnel training in the field through its
Sustainable Range Awareness (SRA) component, Friedl said. The SRA
develops and distributes educational materials to users of training
lands to avoid unnecessary damages to the land.
“Units are educated on things like how to avoid fuel spills and how to
dispose of hazardous waste,” Friedl said. “The materials are produced
with input from the Environmental Division and other applicable offices
The SRP Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program is a support
element of the Army SRP program, Friedl said. The ITAM uses data
gathered by the installation GIS program to manage training areas and
ranges and to create products such as maps and environmental overlays.
The ITAM program recently was restructured and went from being
exclusively a contractor supported operation to being a mix of
Department of the Army civilians and contractors from CALIBRE of
Alexandria, Va. and REK Associates LLC of South Riding, Va.
For more information, call 608-388-6257.